I have a favorite story in the gospel of Luke 17:11-19. It is a short tale of how Jesus healed ten leprous men. At the end only one returned to thank him, and most of the applications I’ve heard of this story have concentrated on that fact. Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” Of course, we shouldn’t forget to thank Jesus for what He’s done for us. We owe Him so much gratitude!
But here’s some other points of this story. We need to remember Jesus’ great compassion for these men. They were lepers and outcast from society. They were living out in the country away from civilization, far from friends and family. They were considered highly contagious and were not allowed into the city and certainly not able to worship at the temple. They were probably sustaining themselves through begging, most likely dressed in rags and hungry. Their condition was bleak and hopeless. In fact, they didn’t dare get near to Jesus but called to him from afar: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
In other instances, Jesus would ask questions of those asking for healing, such as “What do you want me to do?” or start up a conversation. On this occasion, He immediately got to the point in verse 14: “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” He took pity on them as they had asked. He probably could see (and smell) that they were in dire straits. This is the same compassionate Savior who sees you and knows what you need. He doesn’t always wait for us to ask nicely or explain the situation in great detail. God hears us!
Surprisingly, the ten lepers set off for town right away at Jesus’ instructions. This shows that they believed Him, although they were not yet healed. I know if I were one of them, I would have shot up my hand and said “Excuse me? Jesus? We can’t go into town or to the temple because, you know, we’re lepers!! We’re quarantined! You need to heal us first!” But this isn’t what they did. They had faith and obeyed. And the next line (Luke 17:14b) often moves me to tears:
And as they went, they were cleansed.
Because they believed Jesus could heal, and because of their faith, they obeyed Him. They didn’t question or clarify or doubt, they simply acted. And while they were being obedient and doing what He told them to, they were healed.
Imagine how excited they were as they were headed into town and suddenly realized they were fine! How happily they must have anticipated going back to their homes and families, the joyous reunions that awaited them. And only one remembered to come back and thank Jesus.
Jesus commended him for his faith and sent him off with a blessing:
Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 11:19.
This is my story: that as I obeyed Christ and repented of my sin of bitterness, He healed me. As I was going through the hard process of repenting, forgiving others, praying, loving and begging God to transform my mind, I was made well. In the past, if you had told me I should forgive and love others, I would have said “But I can’t because I have all this stuff…pain…baggage in my past that prevents me! I’m not like those others who are healthy and whole! I need to be healed first!” But after I reached a point of desperation and realized that I just needed to obey Christ no matter what, He healed me….while I was going.
And may I never ever forget to be grateful to Him! All glory to my kind and compassionate Savior Jesus!