Luke 17:11-19 reads:
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
For many people, today marks the official start of the “Holiday Season.”I sense the good providence of God that for so many, the Holiday Season begins with an opportunity to focus on gratitude—a much needed opportunity.
The account of the ten lepers as recorded by Luke in Luke 17:11-19 reminds us how ingratitude can easily be the order of the day and has been around a long time. A careful student of the Scriptures will see lack of gratitude way back in the garden, very closely associated with the fall of man into sin (Gen. 3:1-2).
This account in Luke is chilling because we can so easily see ourselves in the ungrateful nine lepers who could not muster up a simple “thank you.” Perhaps they felt entitled to the healing. Maybe they felt they suffered long enough and it was now their time, their day for blessing. Who knows what could have been the heart condition of these nine ungrateful lepers, but whatever it was, we probably would recognize it.
The context of Jesus’ encounter with the lepers is even more telling. He was on his way to Jerusalem in order to offer up himself, so that sinners who are far off like these lepers might be drawn near (Luke 17:14; Ephesians 2:13). So Luke, the inspired writer sets before us this lone Samaritan whose heart was filled thankfulness. If this leper was filled with so much gratitude for being cleansed of a physical infirmity, what then should be the response of those who have been spiritually healed for all of eternity? We have so much to be thankful for!
The four-fold response of the grateful Samaritan leper is quite instructive for those of us who sometimes let ingratitude lead the way. Luke records it for us in verses 15-16.
1. The grateful Samaritan leper praised God. He immediately gave credit for his healing to God. Here is one of those times especially in the Gospels where what is rightfully offered to God appears to be offered to Jesus with no correction.
2. The grateful Samaritan leper did so in a “loud voice.” He was unashamed. He did not care who heard him. Apparently, he wanted people to hear him!
3. The grateful Samaritan leper fell on his face at Jesus’ feet. He was unashamed because his heart had been humbled. Therefore he humbly submits himself to Jesus. It’s interesting that initially Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests in keeping with the Levitical system (Luke 17:14). However, this is no longer necessary for this humble Samaritan was on his face before the High Priest Jesus (Luke 17:19).
4. The grateful Samaritan leper gave Jesus thanks. The healed foreigner who once lived as an outcast is now at the feet of Jesus giving Him thanks. He who was once stricken with a debilitating disease is cured. He gives Jesus thanks.
I wonder what would happen today if believers in Jesus would break out in praise to God, unashamedly bow before Jesus in humble gratitude with something like this:
“Your blood has washed away my sin, Jesus Thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied, Jesus Thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table, Jesus Thank You!”
We have so much to be thankful for!