Summary: A grateful heart is necessary to a healthy walk with God.
“Gratitude, or Ingratitude?”
The story is told of a man who had traveled to a distant city on business. While walking through the city he happened upon a man whom he known some years before. The man, who had fallen upon hard times, was now a homeless beggar. The businessman, after talking with his friend for some time, and feeling greatly sorry for him, pressed a $50.00 bill into his hands before walking away.
Several years had passed when the businessman, once again visiting the city, ran into his former friend. Again, after visiting the man for a while, the businessman turned to leave. But before doing so, he pressed a $10.00 bill into his friend’s hand. The homeless man, looking at the ten dollars, said: “Hey, what’s this? The last time you saw me you gave me $50.00. Now, this time, only ten?”
The business man replied, “Well, friend, since the last time we saw one another, I have gotten married, bought a house, and had a child. My expenses are far greater than what they were then.”
“Oh, I see,” said the homeless man, “you are trying to raise a family on my money.”
Is there any thing that strikes a raw nerve with any one of us more than someone having an attitude of ingratitude? We go out of our way, sometimes at personal expense and great sacrifice, only to have someone be ungrateful for what we have done.
This particular story, like so many others concerning the Lord Jesus, is one that has a number of different lessons to be learned. One: it is a story of love and great compassion as Jesus reaches out to those who have been completely rejected by others. It exemplifies that which was intended to be an insult spoken by the Pharisees: “Jesus was, indeed, a friend of sinners.”
Two: it is a story of healing; not just the physical body, but also the healing of the sin-sick soul unto salvation and eternal life. And three: it is a story of gratitude –vs- ingratitude for all that God, in Christ, has done for sinful men.
Verse 11 tells us that Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem, and on His journey passes through Samaria and Galilee. Samaria, as you well know, was a place filled with people whom Jews hated and saw as a people who were the very scourge of the earth. Galilee, on the other hand, was home to the Jews who were arrogant and self-righteous because they understood themselves to be God’s chosen people. Jesus, passing through both regions, comes to a certain village where some Jews and Samaritans lived in co-existence; not because they had come to love one another, but because they had a common need. According to verse 15, at least one man was a Samaritan; possibly the others were Jews.
As the story unfolds, the first thing that we see here is a PITIFUL PLIGHT. “There were ten men who were lepers.” Leprosy was the most dreaded disease known to man at that time. It was a disease that not only was hideous as it caused the body to outwardly decay, but it was a disease that caused one to suffer emotionally because of the social stigma it carried. A leper was considered to be unclean. He was sent away and isolated from society. And, not only was he cut off from his family and friends, but he was in essence cut off from God because he was not allowed to enter the temple in Jerusalem which was the “House of Habitation” for God because of his uncleanness.
The leper also was restricted. Though he was allowed to travel from one town or village to another, he had to keep his distance from others: and, every other man’s rights superceded his own. If a leper walked down the road, and saw another man approaching, he had to leave the roadway and yell out to the stranger that he was a leper by covering his mouth and crying out, “Unclean, unclean!” One historian wrote that a leper could not come any closer than 50 yards to a person who had not the disease. If a leper, in an attitude of rebelliousness, dared to approach and possibly infect others, he could be stoned to death.
Throughout the Old Testament writings, leprosy was a picture of the sin and disobedience of man against God. Just as leprosy eats away at the outward man, sin eats away at the inside: at the heart of man making him unclean and unacceptable to God. In Isaiah 1:4-6 we find that God, speaking through His prophet, describes the sinful condition of the nation Israel in terms that they, because of the affliction of leprosy, could understand. He said: