I realize that this post is a few days late…A gratitude post would have really been more appropriate on Thanksgiving…but…better late than never, right?
In preparing for a lesson, I read the account of Christ’s healing of the ten lepers. Many people know this story, but I’ll include it here as a refresher.
“11 ¶ 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
Today, I was thinking about this passage, and asking myself a few questions:
1. What’s the deal with lepers?
I know, lepers were considered unclean. However, I’m sure that there were more diseases that afflicted people other than being blind, “dumb”, or leprous. It seems like those were the common ailments of the day. Is that true? Did people suffer from other diseases? I’m sure that they did, but there just seems to be an abundance of mention of leprosy.
And I guess the thing is – they were considered completely untouchable. They had no way to become a part of common society unless completely healed. They experienced being ostracized and rejected because of their highly contagious disease.
I suppose that this was an object lesson – the unclean things that we experience – those that will give us spiritual leprosy are also highly contagious. If we don’t want to be infected with such ailments, then we need to avoid these influences at all costs.
Not only that, but in some ways, we are all suffering with spiritual leprosy in one way or another. All of us, like the 10 lepers, need the healing power of Christ in order to be welcomed again into the presence of our Heavenly Father.
2. The Priests Perform the Healing.
Of course, it is Christ’s power that heals the lepers, but he doesn’t heal them directly. Instead, he instructs them to go to their priest in order to be cleansed of the disease. This helps to reinforce the order of the church, it also gives the priests an opportunity to serve.
Likewise, we experience miracles in this way. Often, Jesus Christ doesn’t directly perform miracles in our lives, but He uses his servants to exercise His power – therefore, nurturing the faith of both the healer and the healed.
3. Only One Notices that it was Christ who Healed him.
I’ve always thought of this story as being about one guy who said thanks and nine guys who didn’t really notice the miraculous blessing. But maybe I’m off a little bit. The lepers, as mentioned above, went to the Priests to be healed.
Imagine the scene – being struck with leprosy: ostracized, abandoned, feared, and judged by those who don’t have the disease. Imagine the loneliness of the affliction. Not only that, there is something extremely hallowing in the experience of physical pain, and I’m sure that these lepers suffered greatly in a physical way. So, imagine, suffering in pain, and also being ostracized because of a disease which you probably couldn’t control contracting.
Now, imagine, being told by Christ to go to the priests to be healed. You go to the priests, and you are healed. What do you do then? I think that, upon being healed, I’d thank the priests profusely. Right? Don’t you think that the first response of the lepers was to thank the priests the ones who performed the healing.
Of course, I’m reading between the lines here, but in some ways, I’d like to think that they weren’t completely devoid of gratitude. Perhaps they just didn’t understand the true source of the healing.
It is only the one leper – the Samaritan – the stranger (to God and the gospel) that recognized it wasn’t the priests that healed him – it was Christ.
How often do I do this – credit someone who has blessed me, and forgotten that it was God’s power that enabled the person who blessed me to perform such a blessing?
4. “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”
Sometimes, I had a problem with this last statement. Not that I questioned the relationship between faith and healing, but that Christ mentions this only to the one leper. I mean, all of the lepers had been healed.
However, because this one leper is the only one who recognized the Savior – as the originator of the miracle – he is made whole through the eternities. He understands that Christ is the Master Healer. He understands that Christ is the Savior. So, he is made whole – not only of physical leprosy, but also – the spiritual ailment that distances us from our Heavenly Father.
This last remark made to the leper by Christ makes a lot of sense to me – especially if I suppose that the other lepers thanked the priest – rather than the Savior. They didn’t recognize the source of their healing. They didn’t recognize the need for and availability of eternal healing.
So – for this Holiday season, I’m going to try to be more grateful to my Savior – the originator of my blessings: the Master Healer.