Jesus goes into a village, and is met by ten lepers. They are thoughtful, standing at some distance from the Lord. They recognize Him as ‘Master’ and ask Him for mercy. Jesus calmly tells them to show themselves to the priests. They obey Him, going to the priests where they discover — quite suddenly — they are each healed. Think of the surprise, the joy!
Only one of them, however, returns to Jesus to express his gratitude and “praise God with a loud voice.” (Luke 17:15) This ‘foreigner’ as Jesus calls him is the only one of the ten to “fall on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.” (Luke 17:16)
When Jesus first sees the ten lepers, I believe He knows that only one of them — and the Samaritan no less — will be grateful enough to return to praise God. Nevertheless, Jesus heals all ten. It is not the behavior of the lepers that determines God’s goodness or willingness to heal; it is rather God’s very nature. God is good; He is all powerful; He is looking to heal.
Jesus asks, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17) It’s not as if Jesus doesn’t know where the other nine have gone. He does. He now marvels at the foreigner, the Samaritan, who chose to return to praise his Lord and Savior, Healer and Coming King. Jesus says, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)
Does this mean the other nine are suddenly un-healed, and made leperous again? Of course not; rather, they have not found Jesus. Only the Samaritan is made whole by his faith in God.
Father God, make us truly grateful for Your loving-kindnesses. In Jesus’ Name, amen.