"Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”" - Luke 17:17-19 (MEV)
There are two things in this story that I find curious in the sense of it being odd and unusual.
The first oddity is faith without gratitude.
Ten lepers were healed but only one of them returned to thank Jesus for healing him. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and worship Him. Nothing was heard from the other nine. I am not sure whether Jesus was surprised or disappointed when he asked, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” Perhaps a little of both.
These lepers were not merely healed of a mild fever or light injury. Leprosy is a dreaded skin disease. Besides the flesh rotting and dropping off, a leper has no sensation of touch and pain. In ancient times, lepers were shunned because the disease was infectious and it was also considered as spiritual uncleanness. Therefore, they were banished from the community and they had to live separately as outcasts by themselves.
At the word of Jesus, the ten lepers were miraculously healed. They could go back to their families, reintegrate into their communities and lead a normal life again. Essentially, they got a new lease of life, a second chance. Why the nine lepers did not return to thank Jesus is inexplicable!
They had faith. When they cried out to Jesus to heal them, the Lord asked them to go and show themselves to the priests. They did as Jesus told them. A leper would do that only after he had been healed to get certification from the priests for a clean bill of health. Thus, their action demonstrated their faith in Jesus. That is remarkable!
Equally remarkable is the fact that after receiving divine grace and healing, they forgot all about Jesus. It is fair to say that they went back to their family. They went back to their community. However, they did not go back to thank Jesus. They ignored their Healer completely. How is that possible? There can only be one explanation. They lacked gratitude.
I cannot help but notice the ratio. Only one out of ten is grateful! I wonder if the statistic is just incidental to this event or God is telling us something through this story.
The Scripture teaches the importance of gratitude. That is the reason we praise and worship God through singing during our weekly services. The preaching of the Word of God is of paramount importance but praise and worship establish our relationship with God on its proper terms. If not for the grace of God, we are damned for all eternity. Praise expresses our gratitude and worship demonstrates our continual reliance on His grace.
I make it a habit to thank God for His grace whenever I pray. I suggest that you do the same. Cultivating the habit of thanksgiving helps me to remind myself that every blessing I experience in my life is the result of His gracious providence. When the blessings of life are seen in this light, our heads and our hearts will be kept in the right place. Gratitude is good for the soul.
The second oddity is faith may not always translate into faithfulness.
Jesus said to the grateful leper, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Evidently, Jesus was not referring to his physical healing since the other nine were also healed of leprosy. The reference is to spiritual healing. All the ten lepers were healed of their leprosy but only one was made well spiritually. Only one experienced saving faith that brought him into a living relationship with Christ.
All the ten lepers had faith in Jesus but only one followed through with faithful thanksgiving and worship. Many people claim to profess faith in Jesus but only some are willing to walk faithfully with Him. Faith without faithfulness renders it meaningless. It is like a body without the soul.
Are you counted among those who express your faith in Christ with gratitude and faithfulness?
Pastors Les & Adeline Chua