Time to be Grateful

“…When he saw that he was healed, he came back to Jesus shouting, “praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet thanking him for what he had done.” Luke 17:15-16

I love these verses. They vividly depict a thankful heart in action. The man has just been healed of leprosy, a terminal skin disease that rendered the victim powerless, penniless and alone. In Jesus’ day, the leper was the outcast of society. He was condemned to live outside the city with other lepers as his only companions. He had to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean” as he walked along roads, to warn anyone else traveling along the road not to come near. To make matters worse, most people considered leprosy a clear sign of God’s judgment for some secret sin. And Scripture also tells us, this man is a Samaritan. He is hated by the Jews, excluded from the temple, and shut out from the promises of the coming Messiah. Oh, how destitute!

Interestingly, in this story, Jesus heals ten lepers. But only this one man, the foreigner among the ten, comes back to Jesus. His immediate response is one of praise. He shouts out glory to God. He falls at Jesus’ feet and he thanks him! His whole body and mind are involved in this expression of thanksgiving. And it’s no wonder. Just seconds before his whole body and mind were taken up in a disease that was to be his demise. He has a lot to be thankful for.

But what about the other nine? That was Jesus’ question. Where are they? Weren’t they also healed. Didn’t they also experience a complete renewal in their physical bodies? They have a lot to be thankful for too! Surely, they also should return and give glory to God. After all, they are Jews. They had asked Jesus for mercy and had received it. They should recognize him as their Healer and Savior. They were healed just like the man who returns. But their lives aren’t transformed.

We don’t know why they don’t return to praise God. Maybe they feel entitled as members of God’s chosen people. Maybe they are distracted with plans for their new, healthy life. Maybe they are too far down the road to be bothered with turning around. Maybe they have too many other good things to get to. Maybe they are just too busy to be thankful.

And maybe we’re just like them—The powerful miracle of God’s redemption in our life, should make us dance and shout praises to God every day of our life. We should be running to Jesus feet and thanking him for all he has done. But maybe we’re just distracted, busy, and too far down the road to turn around.

“Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men….” Psalm 107: 8

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