Anyone who’s been a Christian for three years running has heard the story at least once. Preachers love to tell it this time of year. It’s from that classic Thanksgiving Scripture passage, Luke 17:11-17.
Jesus heals ten lepers. As he often does, he performs this feat in a rather clandestine way. They ask him to have pity on them. His response is to send them to someone else.
The someone else, of course, happen to be the priests. There are theological reasons for his choice, but we’ll let the preachers worry about that one today. What strikes me about this rather terse and abrupt tale are the results.
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum (or temple, or wherever the priests were hanging out that day). They all were healed—cleansed of leprosy. The big twist is that only one of them went back to thank Jesus.
Were the rest ingrates?
The standard line of thinking is the rest were ingrates. Plus, as a little sideline, the one who came back was a foreigner. I’m not sure why that matters, but we make a big deal out of that little fact. The Bible doesn’t give us all the dirty little details. So for all we know, they were ALL foreigners (maybe even undocumented citizens). But I digress.
These ten usually get divided up into two groups—nine ingrates and one elated, enthusiastic, and rip roaring new believer. He, of course, was thankful in a huge way. He came back yelling thanks and praise while tossing himself at Jesus feet.
So the classic juxtaposition (don’t you just love that word?) is between the one who gave thanks and the nine who didn’t. Yet it occurs to me there is probably a third group.
Did ninety percent of them actually see their healed state and say, “This is cool. No time to go back to say thanks. Let’s go party!” No. I suspect at least a couple of them had no clue what happened.
Some of them probably never put two and two together. They walked away never realizing it was Jesus who did it. After all, he simply sent them away. He didn’t touch them. Nor did he say, “Be healed.” He just sent them to the priests.
Was it a coincidence?
Some of them may have considered it a coincidence. Some could have even attributed the cleansing to the priests. One or two may have given credit to diet and exercise. Who knows?
How many ungrateful people are walking around today sporting the many blessings of life? How many of them don’t realize where those blessings originate? They think they either worked hard for them or just lucked out.
Somebody should tell them. That somebody is the church. We’re the ones who know the truth, aren’t we?