Have you ever watched a child run with enthusiasm? I love watching my children run. Their little legs get going, and they are completely “in the zone.” Nothing you can say or do can detract them from their “mission.”
But when they fall and scrape a knee, where do they run? Mom and Dad, of course – the ones they trust to help “fix” it.
I’ve thought a lot about running lately: What we run from, what we run to, who runs to (or from) us, and why. As Christians, we do a lot of running, too.
Like a child with a skinned knee, sometimes we run to God out of our brokenness – knowing the mess we’ve become (or created) can only be fixed by his healing love. Occasionally, our run is motivated by gratitude.
This was the case of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19).
While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (verses 11-13)
Societal outcasts by law, the lepers couldn’t come close to Jesus, but did everything in their power to gain his attention: they yelled! What fascinates me is, although they must have heard about Jesus’ reputation as a healer, they did not ask for healing – they simply asked for mercy.
When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. (verses 14-16)
I can’t help but think that the man who turned back to give thanks, RAN all the way with unbridled enthusiasm and excitement. He was on a “mission” and could not be detracted. How could he not run when, when his decaying flesh had been made whole?
It may have been the single biggest moment in his entire life — certainly, it changed everything.
Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine–where are they? “Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (verse 18)
Jesus didn’t ask any of the lepers to come back and give glory to God. But he did expect it. How it must have disappointed his heart when nine did not return after such a life-altering transformation! No longer were they covered from head to toe with disfiguring sores. No longer did they smell like death. No longer would they be cast out of the city limits, begging for food, unable to work, unapproachable by others, and estranged from their families.
Only the Samaritan returned, and fell at the feet of his Master, Jesus Christ, in humble submission and thanksgiving.
This weekend, we observed Easter. And while we celebrated Christ’s victory over death, it strikes me that like these men, we are spiritual lepers. In our sin we are impure and wreak of death, but we also can approach the great physician, asking for mercy – and find forgiveness and healing.
It troubles me, however that while this passage clearly implies God expects our gratitude…only a fraction (perhaps one in ten?) of us return with thanksgiving.
Conversely, the Samaritan worshiped at his Master’s feet. His face smeared with dirt and tears of thanks, he clearly understood the gift’s significance – and it’s source. His attitude of humble submission brought further blessing. Not only had he been healed on the outside, but internally as well.
And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” (verse 19, emphasis added)
When my children seek a remedy for an injury, (at least) nine times out of ten, they don’t say “thanks” after I’ve bandaged them up. The favor is simply forgotten in the busyness of the day as they run back out to play. We must be quick to return our praise and thanksgiving lest we become like the nine who were too self-involved to say “thanks.”
Oh, Sovereign Lord! When I think of how much you’ve given me – and how little I’ve returned - I realize I’m often like the ungrateful nine in this story. I want to be more like the Samaritan – the one who couldn’t move forward with life without first returning to the one who made him whole. Like this man, I want to be loud in my thanksgiving and gratitude and let others know what you’ve done for me! Forgive me for my spirit of ingratitude. Amen.
Taking it deeper:
What tender mercies of God have you experienced in your own life? How can you give God thanks and glory today? Would you share your story with someone else (perhaps in the comments below)? Your story may be exactly what they need to year today?
We are wise to practice a lifestyle of gratitude. How can you show someone else your gratitude and gratefulness for something special they’ve done for you?
I’ve linked this post up with Beholding Glory.