Psalm 50:23 “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”
Gratitude is a an attribute that shows character. In these days of increasing darkness, godly character has been in short supply.
The tragedies of lost loved ones, the struggle for food in many countries, and the fear associated with a viral threat that doesn’t want to end has driven many to consider only themselves. People can develop an attitude of self-preservation when enough tragedy occurs and so the callousness of considering only our own well-being leads to a heart of bitterness and resentment.
Jesus had an occurrence where He came upon a group of lepers and the events that unfolded is like a microcosm of what we see today.
Luke 17:11-13 “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
It was not uncommon for leprosy sufferers to leave their homes and families and live together with other sufferers on the outskirts of the town. They would have to scavenge for food. They were forbidden to have any contact with people who did not have the disease and they had to ring a bell and shout “unclean” if anyone approached them.
I can’t imagine how terrifying a prospect it was to find you’ve contracted leprosy, I could only liken it to finding out you have stage 4 cancer with little hope for survival.
For lepers, being removed from people you love, treated as unclean, and looked down upon by all of society, the isolation would have been a living death sentence. The effects of being cast out of society only amplified the shame of the disease itself.
When the lepers cried out to Jesus, notice His response…
Luke 17:14 “So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.”
The command was simple, Jesus didn’t perform any stunning healing moments that kept the crowd riveted, there was no mud, no waters being stirred, no shocking statements….just, a command to go.
Undoubtedly, the command to go show themselves to the priests was in reference to Leviticus 14.
God gave instructions to Moses for those who had contracted leprosy. Sin corrupts someone spiritually the way leprosy corrupts someone physically. Leviticus 14 describes what a man must do to be ceremonially, or religiously, clean after being healed of leprosy.
The ceremonial cleansing was coupled with a spiritual cleansing.
Today, leprosy is still prevalent around the world. For those who contract the disease the signs are obvious.
- Skin patches which are a different colour from the rest of your skin (in brown/black skin the patches are lighter; in light-skinned people the patches are reddish in colour) and with no feeling (meaning that it is numb and has no sensation)
- Loss of feeling or numbness of the hands and feet.
- Muscle weakness or paralysis – struggling to hold things in your hands, unable to lift your foot up so that your toes are pointing upwards; unable to close your eyes
Since medical science was limited in practice, it was imperative in ancient civilizations to isolate the infected so that the disease wouldn’t spread throughout the people.
Only One returned
As the 10 lepers departed Jesus and went to present themselves before the priests, we are told the lepers were healed along the way.
What would they have thought as they found themselves being cleansed and healed only as they walked?
What would you have thought?
There was no ceremony yet to have been performed, no sacrifice given, no running water, no sprinkling of blood, their bodies hadn’t been washed, nor was their heads shaved….nothing of the ceremony could be attributed to their healing—it must have been Jesus.
Luke 17:15,16 “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.”
The one who returned recognized Jesus as being from God, his praise toward God revealed his understanding. He wanted everyone to know what Jesus had done so he shouted out his praise. The bowing down was a sign of humility and worship, the man’s heart had been changed as a result of his body being healed. The fact that he was a Samaritan is likewise significant, there was a distinct separation of Jews from Samaritans and so they tended to shun one another. Jews believed that God chose Mount Zion in Jerusalem as His habitation while Samaritans believed He chose Mount Gerizim near Shechem.
Jesus found a way to bridge this spiritual divide on more than one occasion.
When Jesus witnessed the Samaritan’s response, He saw more than just someone who was thankful.
Luke 17:17-19 “So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
This contrite man received far more than bodily healing that day, his Creator recognized his faith and pronounced him spiritually clean as well. Just like in Moses’ day, the hope of cleansing is more than the body but is directed toward mankind’s relationship to God.
The parallel of being cleansed of leprosy and how we overcome the effects of sin has spiritual overtones today.
Cleansed and Purified
The scourge of sin eats away at our souls. It might sit idle for a while, slowly corrupting, biding its time until the core of a person is fully infected. Once the evidence of sin becomes superficial, the damage is fully under way. Hidden sin erodes the moral fabric of a person who tries to look good on the outside.
The lessons learned from the 10 lepers are ones we can hold ourselves against.
Like the one leper who returned and praised God, bodily cleansing does very little to save the soul. How often do people question God as to why He withholds healing, when it is our hearts that truly need to be changed.
- The heart that truly is thankful, expresses a heart of praise.
- The focus should be toward our spiritual state, with less emphasis on our looks.
- The Lord can heal us without even a touch, it was the faith of the lepers that healed them as they went.
- When God touches someone, He looks for their response.
Has God touched you?
Will you be counted among the nine or will you be the one who returns?
Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word.”
We can show our gratitude toward God in how we live our lives each day, continuing in the purity that Christ has done. The path of love reciprocated is a heart of obedience. It’s not easy navigating this world but the journey will be worth the trip if you live it by faith in Christ.