On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19 NRSV)
In yet another act of compassion and healing, Jesus miraculously heals ten lepers. Only one of them returns to praise and thank him. “And he was a Samaritan.” Why was this information even included in the story? As we remember in the parable of the good neighbor (March 17th- Which of these three… was a neighbor?), Samaritans were looked down on, not accepted by the Jewish people. This leper, this foreigner came back to thank Jesus in spite of the cultural divide.
This story of Jesus’ act of healing provides additional lessons for us. First, And he was a Samaritan shows us that all of the blessings that come from Jesus are for everyone. To Jesus, it did not matter that one of the lepers was a Samaritan. All of us are loved and blessed the same. Every person. No exceptions.
Second, perhaps the leper was the only one to come back because he was the most surprised by this act of kindness. The depth of our gratitude increases when we receive a gift that isn’t expected. Or a gift that is undeserved. Or a gift that shows us we are included as the giver’s friends. Or a gift that shows we matter to the giver more than we imagined.
Do we often consider the gifts of God as rewards we have earned, blessings we deserve, tokens of appreciation for the good we have done? Are we missing the deep, humbling, immense gratitude we should have for every gift of God? Of the gift of life itself? Every blessing we have is a gift of God, a gift that has come to us unexpectedly, undeservedly, inclusively, and lovingly. May we never forget how precious these gifts are. May we have such deep gratitude that we thank and praise God with every breath we take.
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
When is the last time you thanked God for something specific? Do you find yourself taking everyday life and gifts for granted? Is there some way you feel as if you have earned a particular blessing? Is there any discomfort to think that God blesses everyone, loves everyone, includes everyone? What would you like to thank God for today?
Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?