And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up [their] voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw [them], he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on [his] face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where [are] the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. Luke 17:11-19 (KJV)
On this Thanksgiving, there are numerous scriptures to that teach us the importance of gratitude, but to me, this one tops the list. The reason being, is that this passage, like no other, shows us what God expects after he blesses us.
Here, as Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he passed through Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a certain village, there were ten lepers who stood afar off and cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Now, that’s a real good place to start, for the word of God assures us that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rms 10:13). I am also reminded how Jesus promised, “him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Jesus simply said for the lepers to go their way and show themselves to the priest. As they did (what Jesus said), they were “cleansed.” Showing themselves to the priest was necessary step for a person to be deemed “clean” and to reenter society. As you recall, at the beginning of the passage, their position was described as “afar off.” Since they could now resume life as normal, we can certainly conclude that their condition of leprosy had been corrected, otherwise, Jesus wouldn’t have instructed them in this way.
One of the lepers, seeing that he was “healed,” “turned back” and glorified God with a loud voice. The Greek word used here for “healed,” iaomai, simply means cured or made well. All ten of the men were restored to this condition. Next the man, fell on his face at the feet of Jesus “giving him thanks.” This man was a Samaritan, and Jesus asked him, “Where there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” I can just imagine the Samaritan with his face to the ground thinking, “I don’t know; all I know is that I had to return and say ‘thanks.’”
I don’t think Jesus expected the man to answer the question, but it still needed to be asked. His next striking observation shows us what God is really expecting when he blesses us: “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” In other words, this man is not a covenant person, one of whom I have been sent to bless and who should know and fear God, yet he had enough respect and gratitude to come bow down before me and give me thanks for what I did for him! Without a doubt, Jesus response showed that he expected as much from each one of the men. Since Jesus only did and said only what his Father told him to, we know that God expects us to take time to say ‘thanks’ as well.
Because of the man’s gratitude, the his condition is about to make yet another change. Jesus told the man to go his way, for his faith has made him “whole.” Here a different Greek word, sozo, is used to describe his new condition. Both words carry the idea of being made well, cured, or whole, but from the Bible dictionary we find that only the last word adds the aspect of being delivered “from the penalties of the Messianic judgment” or being saved from the evils that obstruct from receiving “Messianic deliverance.” In other words, not only was he made well from the condition of leprosy, he was now right with God, for he truly called on the name of the Lord Jesus and was “saved.”
What can we learn from this man that Jesus called a “stranger?” Regardless of his covenant position, Jesus healed him simply because he and the other nine asked him. All that Jesus require was that, in keeping with the Law, they go and show themselves to the priest. At this point in the account of the lepers, one might conclude that once you get your blessing, you can run off, resume a normal life, and forget about giving God thanks. I do want to caution here at this point you cannot say whether or not the other nine were able to keep their healing as they ran off to resume their normal lives -with an ungrateful heart. But we can say that the man’s condition who came back glorifying God and giving Jesus worship and thanks, was changed healed to being saved, for this man met Messiah that day and fell at his feet. It is clear from the difference in the two Greek words used to describe the men’s condition, that this man’s sins were forgiven and now he was truly healed, inside and out! What made the difference in this man’s life? He returned to worship God and say “thanks!”