Summary: In Hebrew the word for gratitude and confession is the same. We are to confess our dependence on God by showing him gratitude.
Today we are going to study an episode that happened in the life of Jesus and discover some truths about gratitude.
Let’s begin with Luke 17: 11 “As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria.”
Jesus had set his sights on Jerusalem. There He knew the cross was waiting for him. His teaching had ramped up the last few weeks. There seemed to be a sense of urgency to educate his followers on spiritual matters. While He was still healing, it was clear that teaching had become a priority. He would enter into Samaria for the last time on his way to Jerusalem. His trip was suddenly interrupted.
Luke 17: 12 - 13 “As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’”
Jesus entered into a village and was immediately confronted with a deadly disease, leprosy. Leprosy itself was not always fatal. Most of the time we picture people with their limbs rotting off. But leprosy was actually any kind of skin rash. We know that psoriasis is not contagious but in the Biblical times those suffering from this type of skin rash would be labeled a leper.
A leper was considered ceremonially unclean. And contact with a leper would make another person ceremonially unclean. Therefore, even if not fatal, it was deadly in the sense that those considered lepers lost all ability to live with loved ones, to feel the touch of another person, and worst of all, the ability to go to the temple for worship and sacrifice. Those who died with leprosy did so with their sins unforgiven and Hades as their destination. So they cry out for help.
Another thing we will discover about these ten men. One is a bitter enemy of the other 9. One is a despised Samaritan, a foreigner. The others are Jews, the chosen ones of God. The Samaritans were people who lived in what had been the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They were a racially mixed society with Jewish and pagan ancestry. Although they worshiped Yahweh as did the Jews, their religion was not mainstream Judaism. They accepted only the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible as being from God, dismissing the historical books and the books of the prophets. They were much more inclined to follow the law of Moses. Their temple was on Mount Gerazim instead of on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
Although these differences drove the Samaritans and the Jews apart, for the ten the common disease of leprosy had united them. So Jesus approached a cure that He knew that both groups would accept.
Luke 17:14 “He looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.”
Since both groups were familiar with the Mosaic law they would have known that the final step to being declared healed of leprosy was for a priest to inspect their body and declare them healed. Jesus sent them to be inspected. But as they were leaving they were still suffering from leprosy. It was only when they acted in faith to the command of Jesus and began to walk in that faith that the healing came.
Just imagine that you were one of the ten. You are walking toward the temple. If you arrive there with leprosy you could be stoned to death. But you notice that your companion’s condition is starting to clear up. You notice that they are receiving their healing. But what about you? Then you notice the look of amazement on everyone else’s face and realize that they are wondering the same thing. So you dare to ask. And they confirm it. You are healed.
Suddenly everyone is rushing toward the temple. Everyone is one confirmation away from rejoining their family. One confirmation away to hugging their wives and holding their children. One confirmation away to living a normal life once again. They are all running but for one.
Luke 17:15-16 “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.”
This man was a Samaritan. He wasn’t one of God’s chosen people. He wasn’t even considered a child of God. In fact he was considered to be a dog. But this Samaritan realized one thing that the others did not. His whole life lay before him now, completely restored. And it was Jesus who made it possible. He felt obligated to show his gratitude toward the one who made it so. The priest could wait. The praise could not. So Jesus wanted the crowd to take note of what took place.