One of my favorite stories is this one from Luke 17. But it was my favorite for the wrong reasons. I always wondered at how these men could have been healed and not returned to thank Jesus immediately-
And as He entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off.
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
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.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks, and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go your way, your faith has made you whole.
There is such significance in this passage that you may miss if you just read and move on.
1. A leper would have lost everything. Job. Family. Friends. Worship. Community. Left all to save those he loved from the same fate and forced into exile.
2. It may have been years since these men had been touched, loved, hugged or even spoken to.
3. A leper had to yell "Un clean" to warn people to stay far from them.
4. Somehow word had spread to these men at their leper camp and they came near to find this Jesus.
5. As they walked away to find a priest, to confirm their healing, they were healed. And only one returned to thank Jesus. Where did the other's go? Most likely, to find family...
6. This Samaritan, who was mentioned as a Samaritan because of the history between Jews and these people (not good) because he was not afraid to approach Jesus, this Jew, because He knew he could save him. He came back to glorify God, BEFORE he went to the Priest. BEFORE he found his family. BEFORE he saw his friends again.
Did he want to see these people any less than the other 9? Probably not, but he weighed the cost. The life that had just been restored. The gift that had just been given. The "debt" that had just been paid. And the wholeness that Jesus mentions at the end was more than about a skin disorder. It was a wholeness of spirit and this man's faith had saved AND healed him.
I loved this man and scorned the other 9. But then one day, as I drove along in my car and judged the heart of someone in my life, I compared this person to the other 9. And as I shook my spiritual fist at the Father, he said quite clearly to me. "Yes, they did not return to give me Glory, and I healed them knowing full well they would not. Who are you to judge?"
So who am I? I am the other 9. Instead of thanking God for what he was already doing in this person's life. I was judging her reactions to me. Her gratefulness to me. Her "importance" to me. I was walking away with the other 9.
My job is to reach out to this world. To let God use me. To share the love of Christ. And the reaction I witness is between God and the heart of man.
Who am I?