“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” Luke 17:15-16
All ten men “stood at a distance” waiting for Jesus to enter their town, shouting like prisoners with breakout on their minds: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (Luke 17:13). But only one remembered Jesus afterward. The others simply tucked their healing under their arms like a package they were entitled to receive, indifferent to the Lord they left behind.
Somehow word had circulated inside their quarantined lodgings that Jesus was coming close. They heard the radical reports that he was capable of healing their appalling disease, and the moment Jesus came near they were waiting. He was the key to unlock their wretched bars; he held their freedom in his hands.
All ten collaborated to reach Jesus before anyone else in the vicinity could distract him. All ten turned their complete attention toward Jesus and pleaded for help using their loudest cries and desperate voices.
Their strategy worked. Jesus noticed them directly and said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” All ten obeyed, all ten turned, and instantly all ten were healed.
But only one returned. After their miraculous healing only one considered it necessary to fall at the feet of Christ. He shot out of his leprous prison cell and charged toward Jesus with joyful abandonment, every part of him focused on giving the Lord the only thing he had to offer – adoration.
The indifference of the nine struck a chord in Christ, and he marveled at their ungratefulness. “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner? (Luke 17:17-18) In a hurry to move on to the next segment of their lives, it never crossed the minds of the nine to spend another moment with Jesus. Why stop to worship the Healer when there were far more important things they could do now?
Apparently Almighty God notices ungratefulness. We, too, tend to be a preoccupied people, routinely indifferent to his stream of merciful gifts, gracious blessings, and undeserved favors. It might be worthwhile to learn from this ancient leper and respond like him. May we turn toward Christ with thanksgiving overflowing the banks of our lives like a raging river at flood time!
Elizabeth A. Mitchell