There were ten of them in all. They were friends who were bound together by a shared tragedy: they all had leprosy—a horrible, disfiguring disease.
There’s really no way to explain the horror of watching your body slowly rot away. But that was only half of the heartache.
Because it was thought that leprosy was contagious, those who suffered from it had to not only endure the ravages of disease, but also to face scorn, disgrace and loss of all dignity. They were made to live apart from the rest of society, apart from their family and friends with only fellow lepers to lean on for support and encouragement.
Lepers in Jesus’ day were not only forced to live in colonies, they also had to yell out “Unclean!” whenever they approached anyone. Sometimes they were made to wear bells on their clothing to warn others of their approach.
At the leper colony, they heard stories of this man named Jesus who not only spoke of God’s love for everyone, but He healed all those who came to Him. I can imagine the stories of miraculous healings came in one after the other: Jesus opened the eyes of a man blind since birth; He told a lame man to rise up and walk; He even stopped a funeral procession and gave a woman her child back. I can imagine them hearing the story of the centurion’s servant who was healed. They must have thought if Jesus healed a Roman centurion’s servant, certainly He would heal us, after all, we are children of Abraham!
At some point the ten came up with a plan. They would travel in a group to find Jesus. Together they would ask Him to heal them.
Finally, the moment came when they stood before Jesus. They asked Him to make them whole. “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” Jesus told them.
As they turned to go, they realized for the first time that their dream had just come true. They stared at their hands in disbelief. Where a moment ago there was decay and stubs, there now were fingers and hands free from leprosy. They walked their first couple of steps, then they began leaping in the air, shouting praises to God! They ran off quickly to establish their healing with the priests so they could return to their homes and families.
But one of the ten stopped in his tracks and realized he’d forgotten something very important. While his nine friends ran down the road, he turned and ran back to Jesus, falling on his face in front of the Lord. Sobbing and laughing at the same time, he kept saying it again and again…Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
“Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” Jesus asked. The man didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t answer for them. He just knew the immense sense of gratitude that was swelling up inside him. This man has just given him his life back.
Then Jesus told him, “Go your way, your faith has made you whole.”
Far too often, you and I are like the nine who ran down the road leaping and praising. We receive God’s grace and mercy, we experience His healing touch on our lives. He restores what the devil has caused to decay. And off we run, leaping, shouting and praising, but forgetting to simply say “Thank you.”
I want to be like the one who turned and ran back to Jesus, falling on his face and saying thanks. Lord, give me the attitude of gratitude!
by Alan Riley