Summary: First Person Narrative of Leper who went back to say thank you for healing.

How do you thank a King?

Luke 17:11-19

It's been three weeks since my wife touched me again.

It had been three long years. I didn't know if I would ever feel her touch again. I didn't know if I would ever feel the touch of another human being ever again during those three years. But then three weeks ago . . .

I'm really ahead of the story and I think you need to hear it all.

Three years ago I was working in the field. Plowing the ground. Getting it ready. Plowing is back breaking work but I was glad to be doing it. My wife and I had recently had a child. A baby girl and it wasn't just work in the field anymore it was building something for my family. As I was working, I could feel my fingers getting numb and at first I thought I must be gripping the scythe too tightly. I didn't say anything to my wife over the next few days as the numbness never went away but she must have suspected something. I carried my hand next to my body like, well, like a wounded bird.

One evening as I plunged my hands into the wash basin the water reddened. My finger was bleeding and bleeding freely. I hadn't realized I had cut myself. I didn't remember using a knife or anything sharp.

"It's on your clothing as well," My wife told me softly.

I looked at my robe. There was crimson spots in different places.

I stood there for the longest time not wanting to look at my wife. I knew as I stood there my life would never be the same again.

"Shall I go with you?" my wife asked.

Where, I asked her.

"To see the priest."

"No, I'll go alone."

The priest wouldn't touch me. He looked at my hands. He looked at my face that was covered with worry and sorrow. I couldn't fault him. He was only doing his job. He was doing what he was taught to do in those circumstances. He covered his mouth and extended his hand, palm outward. "You are unclean." With those words I lost my family, my farm, my future, my friends, my life.

My wife met me at the city gates with a bundle of clothing and bread and coins. She didn't speak. Some of our friends gathered. In their eyes I would see what I would see for the next three years — fear and pity and maybe thanksgiving that it wasn't them. Their fear and horror of my disease was greater than their concern for my heart. They stepped back. I turned away.

Over the last three years my hands gnarled from the disease. The tips of my fingers literally fell off as well as parts of my ears and the tip of my nose. I carried a bell and if other approached I was required to yell out. "Unclean! Unclean!" Father's would grab their children. Mother's would cover their face.

My clothes became rags and covered the ever increasing sores.

I kept asking myself, "What had I done to deserve this?" Some say it was because of my sins. Others told me it was because of the sins of my parents. What could I or my parents have ever done to require me to carry a damnable bell and beg. Beg for food, beg of forgiveness, beg for my life back.

I shared a cave in the pits with a Samaritan. Never in my life would I have ever even considered breaking bread or sharing space with those that were beneath me. It is amazing what the disease did. At the bottom of the pit we were all equal in a strange sort of way. Each of us missed our families. Each of us missed what our life had been. Each of us prayed and at the same time cursed God. Each of us lost hope and buried our dead. Each of us saw the future and welcomed hell.

Then three weeks ago, several of us, were near the pits in a village between Samaria and Galilee. We were ringing our bells, begging for coins and food when one of us, I don't know who started yelling, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

I didn't know who he was yelling to until I saw him. I had heard of this man Jesus but this was the first time I had seen him. I looked, well he looked so ordinary except for his eyes. There was something about the way he looked at us. I saw no pity. No fear. There was something in his eyes that I had never seen in the eyes of another man either before or since.

In a voice so low it was hard to hear he told us to go show ourselves to the priest. He didn't touch us. He didn't give us anything. He just told us to go show ourselves. I hadn't been made clean but I felt something. I felt that I had to go and do as he told us and on the way — on the way something happened. Not only did my hands clear but they changed. My finger tips were restored. I touch my nose. It was whole. I was whole. I wore the rags of a leper but I knew that I was clean.

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