The cleansing of the 10 lepers, a miracle story unique to Luke (17:11-19) is significant for 2 reasons: First, in this section (Chs 16-19) chiefly of teachings on God’s Kingdom, this healing event is inserted. Second, Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem to suffer ‘rejection’ sets the stage for these lepers plight. But, rather than the healing itself, Luke’s stress is on the response of praiseful thanks from one ‘Samaritan’ leper. He was one of a kind! His worshipful act reveals what lies at the heart of the gospel and demonstrates an essential aspect of the kind of faithfulness that ought to characterize the “saved”- thankfulness!
Much can be said about these lepers’ condition, cry and cure. However, our focus, like Luke’s, will be on this one leper’s expression of gratitude that serves as evidence of genuine faith and is a picture of God’s salvation (shalom), that Jesus affirms only to him (v.19). By his efforts this Samaritan recognises God was at work through Jesus and personally appropriates that amazing grace. Though socio-culturally and religiously rejected by the Jews as an ‘outsider’, he turns around (repentance) breaks away from the rest to return to Jesus (faith). He throws himself at Jesus’ feet and testifies boldly. He understood the spiritual isolation sin brings and is thankful for the wonderful fellowship; wholeness, not just physical healing, that Christ brings us into.
Jesus’ 3 questions (v.17-18) teach us the importance of thanksgiving as a grace, divine and human, that must never be taken for granted. It’s saving power extends beyond human boundaries and is offered to all. Often, sad but true, those whom society think deserve God’s judgment the most, are found most thankful for his mercy and grace in time of need.
There is much we can learn from this Samaritan leper. Our Lord expects thanks from recipients of God’s loving forgiveness and healing power. Why is it that we Christians tend to forget, ‘we are what we are’ by the grace of God, turn grace into disgrace and are often ashamed to share the gospel? Let us continually be challenged toward thanks-living. I invite you to join me in a short prayer that has changed my life with an attitude of gratitude. It simply says: “Lord, You have given me so many things, give me one more thing, give me a Thankful Heart !” Amen.