Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one returned to give thanks.
Returning to Thank the Healer
By: Becky Keife
Luke 17:11-19 – The 10 Lepers
“While traveling to Jerusalem, He passed between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, men with serious skin diseases met Him. They stood at a distance and raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When He saw them, He told them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And while they were going, they were healed. But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus said, ‘Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He told him, ‘Get up and go on your way. Your faith has made you well.’”
I stand at the kitchen sink performing my nightly ritual. The water is scalding, but I barely flinch each time I rinse another dish under the steamy stream. Maybe because my hands are used to the burn. Or maybe because I’m focused on a different kind of pain.
I draw in a deep breath, slow and long, willing my lungs to fill with enough air to usher in relief. I find none. My heart pounds faster than it should. My chest tightens. It feels like coffee jitters in the life-pumping part of me—only I haven’t had caffeine since the morning. The beat of my own heart feels like life draining out of me. My mind races with a traffic jam of thoughts—speeding yet stuck. The irony is not funny.
I’m writhing, wilting, screaming inside. I’m pounding on the jail of body and mind. I’m trapped. Yet on the outside, I look fine. I load another blue plastic kid bowl into the dishwasher, scrub harder at crusted bits in the corner of a glass pan.
Breathe deep. Fight the ache. Push forward. Crave normal. No relief.
After months of enduring this can’t-catch-my-breath agony, I finally admitted that I had a serious issue with anxiety.
I looked fine. I wanted to be fine. But I wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
Several years have since passed. Sometimes the muscle memory of those fruitless deep breaths sneaks up on me. Unless I intentionally recall those tight-chest, racing-mind days, I almost forget that I was once stuck in the anxiety pit. I forget how I cried to God who lifted me out of it.
When “healed” becomes your new normal, it’s easy to forget the Healer.
My hunch is that this is what happened to the men with serious skin diseases who called out to Jesus for mercy. As they went to show themselves to the priests, the lesions of their leprosy vanished. Painful blisters were replaced with smooth skin. Deformed hands and feet were repaired to full function. The disease that had ravaged their bodies and ostracized them from society—for who knows how many years—was miraculously gone! What mercy! Praise God!
But only one did.
“But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him” (Lk 17:15-16).
Where were the other nine, Jesus wanted to know? Could they have forgotten the answer to their plea so quickly? Taken the miracle for granted already?
As readers, it’s easy to sit in judgment over these nine, seemingly ungrateful, men. The Messiah altered the course of their entire lives, yet they didn’t have the decency to come back and acknowledge the wonder or utter a thank you!
What if, for a moment, we step down from the judge’s seat and into the healed men’s shoes? Consider their joy. Consider their total awe. How utterly astounded they must have been. Surely they must have wondered if their eyes deceived them. The man who healed them said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” so without hesitation, they went!
Can you picture it? After being disabled and only able to hobble for years, they could now walk without pain—or better yet, run! Oh, how those men must have dashed and danced into the presence of the priests appointed to bear witness to their miraculous healing. Or perhaps they first collapsed on the dusty road, weeping with relief.
The exact responses of the nine are unknown. What we do know is that one man came back. What provoked his change of course? First, Scripture says he saw that he was healed. He recognized God’s work in his life. Next, he returned. The man didn’t continue on his way—even to the very task Jesus told him to do; he came back to give God glory and profess his thanks.
What a beautiful sight that must have been: the healed worshiping the Healer. Then to hear Jesus offer another lifeline of encouragement and freedom: “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19).
I wonder if the nine men who didn’t return ever regretted it. Weeks, months, or years later, as they labored at a job they never thought they’d perform, as they caressed the cheek of a wife they never thought they’d marry or see again, as they entered the synagogue to worship instead of being banished to the outskirts of town, did they ever pause to remember the agony from which they were delivered? Did they ever long to go back and thank their Deliverer?
I pull my hands from tonight’s hot suds, take a deep breath, and exhale my deepest thanks.
Thank You, Jesus, for hearing my cry. Thank You for answering my plea for freedom from anxiety. You are powerful and good! All glory is Yours! Forgive me for forgetting or taking Your mercy for granted. You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.
Unlike the ten lepers, God did not choose to exercise instantaneous healing in my life. Instead, He led me to pursue help through counseling to explore the roots and triggers of my anxiety. It was a long road of hard work. But Jesus went with me. Shadows of anxiety still creep in, but I am grateful to have crossed that darkest valley.
Healing looks different for each individual. God is not limited by a particular means or timetable. The source of our cries for mercy can be equally varied. Maybe you’ve asked God for physical or mental healing. Or maybe you’ve begged Him for a miracle of relational restoration, financial repair, or spiritual renewal.
Wherever you are on the journey, pause today to recognize how God has worked already. Identify the prayers He’s answered. Then turn from your regular to-dos and return to Him. Pour out your praise and thanks. And if needed, ask for a greater measure of faith to believe that wellness is possible
The Grateful Samaritan
“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.” (Luke 17:15-16 NLT)
Ten lepers had been healed, yet only one returned to give glory to God. God makes it very clear to us that this person who had returned was a despised foreigner. We often miss God’s blessing because it comes through someone with whom we disagree.
I once was asked to work on a steering committee of a crusade held by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Grady Wilson, an associate evangelist, did the preaching.
I had been saved and nurtured In Christ in the charismatic renewal that occurred in the Church in the latter part of the last century. One of the central tenants of our faith was a belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One of my friends who attended my church got wind of my involvement in this crusade. He said to me, “I would not be involved with them, they don’t even believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit.”
I was a young Christian at the time and it shook me. I started to have reservations about my involvement with the crusade. Even though I had doubts, what my friend said just did not sit well with me, and I continued to serve on the committee. The result, a rich learning experience. In relation to reaching the lost, it was honey straight out of the rock. The people on the Billy Graham team had forgotten more than I would ever know about evangelism. I learned that I need people who did not believe exactly as I did. A difference in theology almost made me miss this life-changing experience.
It’s amazing, God uses people who don’t believe just like we do. One of the themes of the Scripture above is that God uses people who don’t dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s theologically. Of course, our theology is important, but is it significant enough to divide us unless it involves the basics of our salvation or a clear departure from biblical truth? You probably heard about the pastor who was having a discussion with God about working with another church. He told the Lord, “I don’t know if I agree with everything they do.” God replied, “I don’t always agree with everything that you do, yet I still work with you.”
The Apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 12:4-5:
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”
When we separate ourselves from God’s family we are fracturing Christ’s Body and missing part of the character of God.
Saint Augustine once said,
“In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, in all things charity,”
The grateful Samaritan reveals to us that loving God is evidenced by gratefulness in our hearts more than theological correctness in our minds.
Lord, reveal to us our need for others in the Body of Christ. Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see that if we don’t accept all our brothers and sisters we don’t see all of you. Like the despised Samaritan, give us grateful hearts.
“In the last days … men will be lovers of self … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men.” – 2 Timothy 3:1-2, 5 NASB
When Marco Polo arrived in China in 1275 AD, he discovered a multicultural empire filled with people with many religions. Yet their leader, Kublai Khan, had a strong interest in Christianity. His wife, in fact, was a Christian. He once told Polo that the Christian faith was “truer and better” and took precedent over other religions.
But when asked why he did not declare himself a Christian, Khan explained that he had seen that other religions had supernatural power. Christianity did not seem to have this kind of power. Based on his observations, he did not believe that faith in Christ would preserve him from attacks. He sensed that believers did not have real power.
Khan only was familiar with a Christianity filled with doctrines but without power. While respecting the teachings of Jesus, he could not wholeheartedly endorse the religion. What he wanted was something real and powerful. The kind of life described in the Bible. A life of power! Not weakness but strength, miracles, and the supernatural.
The world still looks for proof and validation. It looks for people with a vital faith who don’t just talk about belief, but put their faith into practice and whose lives are charged with the supernatural.
Today, don’t limit God, but let Him use you. Be ready to step out in faith. Remember, He is the Creator of the universe. Believe that He can equip you with real power.
Streams in the Desert – July 21
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece (Judges 6:39).
There are degrees to faith. At one stage of Christian experience we cannot believe unless we have some sign or some great manifestation of feeling. We feel our fleece, like Gideon, and if it is wet we are willing to trust God. This may be true faith, but it is imperfect. It always looks for feeling or some token besides the Word of God. It marks quite an advance in faith when we trust God without feelings. It is blessed to believe without having any emotion.
There is a third stage of faith which even transcends that of Gideon and his fleece. The first phase of faith believes when there are favorable emotions, the second believes when there is the absence of feeling, but this third form of faith believes God and His Word when circumstances, emotions, appearances, people, and human reason all urge to the contrary. Paul exercised this faith in Acts 27:20, 25, “And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.” Notwithstanding all this Paul said, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”
May God give us faith to fully trust His Word though everything else witness the other way.
–C. H. P.