I’m at the airport, and I notice a few people wearing those little medical masks on their faces. I always wonder whether such people are sick, or trying to prevent getting sick. It seems like an extreme precautionary measure to take.
Now, picture this. 10 guys are really sick. They are not just wearing little surgical masks; they have to shout “UNLCEAN” everywhere they go. They have to live outside the city, and everyone is scared to associate with them.
This was the reality for 10 particular lepers in a historical account documented in Luke 17. When they see Jesus they beg for pity from a distance, afraid to get close to anyone. Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priest, which is what people with leprosy were supposed to do if they were healed from the disease in order to be reinstated into the community and be “clean” (Leviticus 13:17). They do so, and as you might expect from Jesus, all were healed.
Here’s where it gets interesting and instructive. One of the 10 comes back and thanks Jesus. I’m sure they were all grateful, but only one returned to Jesus. Why?
Got What They Came For
First of all, because the other nine already got what they wanted from Jesus. They were sick, they wanted to be healed, and He healed them. The end. “Thank you Jesus.”
These guys thought too small. Their ask was so tiny: “Make me feel better, Jesus.” They didn’t realize all that Jesus could offer them. He didn’t come to heal the sick; He came to put an end to death.
All The World Could Offer
Secondly, they were too busy looking towards what was next to look backwards and give real thanks. They wanted to be back in the very society that had rejected them. This was their chance to get into the party that they had not been invited to for so long. These guys didn’t want to go back to Jesus; they wanted to get all that the world could offer them, and all that they had been denied while they were in the wilderness.
I get it. There have been things I prayed for a long time for: a great wife, a good job, a fruitful ministry, great volunteers, healthy kids, etc. When Jesus answers those prayers, I tend to move on to the next. I don’t fall on my face before Him like the one. Most days, I am one of the nine ungrateful lepers.
More Than They Could Dream Of
The tenth leper came back loudly praising God, and Jesus said that his faith had made him well (Luke 17:15-19). I believe that the tenth leper got what the other nine did not, and what probably nine out of ten people today don’t get. It wasn’t about temporary healing (for this life only); it was about finding the One who had the power over life and death. While the other nine were enjoying (somewhat) their new (temporary) life of (limited) health, he sought out the One who offers life forever in paradise.
We think so small when it comes to Jesus. We ask Him for marriage instead of a heart that desires a healthy relationship with someone who loves Him dearly and who will cherish us. We ask Him for a job, instead of the ability to honor Him with the way we steward every dollar He entrusts to us. We ask for things instead of asking for Him, because we don’t fully know what we’re missing. We don’t understand what He has done for us and what He can do for us.
This Thanksgiving I’d encourage you to reflect on all that Jesus has done for you. Spend extended time thanking Jesus. If you don’t know why you should thank Him, let’s talk.