Luke 17:15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18“Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”
This story, familiar for its look into the expectations of our God spoke to me this morning. From a variety of angles, I could identify with the people in Jesus’s story. We want to look at the thanks aspect, but want to address first the societal predicament these men find themselves in the midst of.
First, those who were sickly were housed outside of the cities in camps. They were not touched or seen, as those who were well sought not to contaminate themselves by interacting with them. They were not only outside of the city, but were away from resources, shunned by man and void of human interaction. Their entire world was dwelling among others who were just as sick as they were. They were away from families. Unable to show love or receive love from their wives and children. As men, they were unable to protect and provide for their homes, leaving their families uncovered and without their provision and talents. They were unable to worship with others, restricted from the temples, and had been pronounced unfit for fellowship. Being cleansed would not just stop the pain of being sick, but would restore their communion with the community and with the creator.
They, like all of us, found ourselves in need of God’s mercy. They cried out to Him, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us.” V. 13 We all experienced God in our sick cities. As we rotted away with the others infected with the same or similar conditions and realized that we wanted and needed change. And here was their opportunity. Thank God, Jesus showed mercy. I paused to give God thanks. It is amazing that He wouldn’t take the long way around like others to avoid coming in to contact with me. Though He knew my condition, He took the route to ensure our paths would cross. And for that, my life has never been the same.
But here they face a decision! They all showed faith by leaving to show themselves to the priest. This showing would declare them clean and would allow them to return to their homes and families. They would be released to become productive members of the community. They would be no longer be outcast or shunned by their community, and would get to enjoy the warmth of a hug, the respect of a handshake, the honor of worshiping in the temple with others. Showing themselves to the priest would be the beginning of life restoration on earth.
The ten of them rushed to be restored, but the one realized that the restoration most important was the one that had happened by asking for and receiving the mercy from the Lord. And while showing others that He had been cleaned would bare witness of God’s goodness, and give testimony about His power and mercy, he turned back and had a one on one with the divine. The others made the choice for community, while the one made a choice for communion!
He returned, “glorifying God with a loud voice” v.15 while others went to worship in the temple, the other gave glory right were he was found. He went back to the sick community he had been delivered from and bore witness with a “loud voice” giving glory to God the Father. He was unashamed and unbridled! He screamed forth praise for the God that had restored Him not publicly in the temple, but on the very streets that He meet Him on! We need to give thanks in similar fashion.
He didn’t just speak aloud so that others could hear, he “he fell on his face at His feet” V.16 I wondered to myself how many of us will worship without conveniences? As a believer, worship had been designated to the temple, but this man found himself in the presence of the Devine! No temple needed! Just his heart and time with the Lord! He fell with his face towards the ground, submitted to the Lord and worshipped Him. In this, I realize the power of the Gospel. God’s Word has the ability to change the life of anyone who applies its wisdom and principles, but does not foster a personal relationship with the Lord with all. While the 9 ran to restore their lives and to return to normal, the 1 found himself desiring to form a personal relationship.
We should ask ourselves what we desire. Is it the declaration from the Temple Priest, or the declaration from the High Priest? The reality of the passage is that most want the earthly declaration and will miss the heavenly decree!
This one man, decided to return and give thanks. After all God has done and all God is doing, I find it both true and shameful that many of us are on the road to the Temple Priest. We are eager to show ourselves cleansed, and forget to show gratitude to the one who cleansed us. Our thanks and appreciation is expected and is what is just and due. We should go out of our way to express gratitude not just to our Father, but to anyone who aides us on our journey. This day, take the time to tell those who have helped you thanks! And don’t forget to thank the one who instructed them to help you.