All 10 of them had leprosy, the dreaded “living death” disease. And because it was highly contagious, it also meant they were cut off from society.
But these 10 men had heard about Jesus. They’d heard how he had healed others with leprosy. And it was their hope that he might heal them too.
Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus met them when he arrived at a village on the border of Samaria and Galilee, on his way to Jerusalem. And when they saw him, they cried out to him from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (17:13 NLT).
What’s interesting to me is how Jesus responded. There were no special effects. There wasn’t any music swelling in the background. And there wasn’t even a dramatic touch. Jesus simply gave them a command: “Go show yourselves to the priests” (verse 14 NLT).
Now, why did Jesus even say such a thing? It’s because the Old Testament book of Leviticus stipulated that if someone with leprosy was cured somehow, they must be examined by a priest as part of an eight-day purification ceremony. Then they could be reunited with their families.
That was all well and fine, but these men weren’t healed yet. So, why show themselves to a priest? Because Jesus told them to.
In the same way, we may read things in the Bible that, frankly, we may not get. And we say, “Now, wait a second. I don’t know about this.”
However, when we come to a verse in the Bible that we don’t agree with, we need to change our opinion, because the Bible is absolute truth. It is not for us to pick and choose what we like or don’t like.
We need to do what God tells us to do. For example, people say they want a relationship with God and want to know what they need to do to have that relationship. So, God says, “Here’s what you need to do: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge there is nothing you can do in your own strength.”
That insults some people. They would rather go through various rituals and efforts on their own part. They want to earn their salvation.
But God says, “No, that is not how you get it. You get it by believing in me and turning from your sins, because only I can give you that salvation.” Yet some choke on that.
However, we must do what God says if we want what he has to give.
Jesus gave the men a command to go and show themselves to the priests, and to their credit, they did.
Then Luke tells us, “And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan” (verses 14–16 NLT).
The one who returned to thank Jesus was a Samaritan. Why is that important? It’s because Jews hated Samaritans, and the feeling was mutual. Yet this man was healed, and he wanted to give glory to God.
In fact, the word translated “shouting” in this passage originates from two Greek words that form our English word “megaphone.” This Samaritan man not only was loud in his request, but he also was loud in his thanksgiving.
Jesus was amazed, and he commended the man for it: “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (verses 17–18 NLT).
Think of all the times when we call on God for help. “Oh God,” we say, “if you get me out of this one, I promise I will serve you. I will follow you. I will do anything you ask. Oh Lord, help me.”
And then God comes through, and we essentially say, “Thanks, God. See you next crisis.”
We’re like the man who was on the roof of a two-story house, nailing down a loose shingle. He lost his footing and began to slip, and he knew that if he went over the side, he was a dead man. So, he started calling out to God.
“Oh God,” he cried. “If you are there, help me. Oh God, save me. Don’t let me die. God, do something!”
Then, just as he was going over the side, his belt loop caught on a nail, stopping him. So, he called out, “It’s OK, God! I got caught on a nail!”
That is how we can be sometimes. We pray desperately for God to get us out of our mess. And when he does, we say, “It’s OK, God. My uncle called with the money I needed.” Or, “It’s OK, God. The doctor gave me some medicine.”
But do we ever stop and think that God could have answered our prayer through that uncle or through that doctor or through some other means? Just because it isn’t a flashy miracle doesn’t mean that God didn’t do it.
What would you think of a person who was always asking for resources, favors and help but never thanked you? The Samaritan man wasn’t that way. He returned to give thanks. And we need to return and give thanks as well.
Many times God works quietly. But it is still God who is doing the work, and we should look at our lives and say, “Lord, thank you for all that you’ve done for me.”
Often we are in these messes because of our failure to honor biblical principles. We haven’t done what God has told us to do.
Here’s what we need to remember. As we approach God to ask for new blessings, we should never forget to thank him for the blessings that he already has given. We should be just as definite in giving him thanks as we are in requesting his help.
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