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Gospel according to Luke 17: 11-19 (NIV)
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Why did Luke the evangelist include this short account of Jesus’ miraculous healing of ten men who suffered from a debilitating skin disease (or diseases)? We could surmise the answer to be one or more of these reasons:
- to reveal who Jesus was through his healing powers;
- to demonstrate that Jesus has the power to make whole – including to forgive sin;
- to show the nearness of the kingdom of God;
- to indicate that Jesus would heal not only Jews but “foreigners” too;
- to demonstrate that acting on Jesus’ commands is sufficient evidence of faith in him;
- to show the value Jesus places on our thankfulness.
The narrative indicates that one of the ten who were healed, the one who returned “praising God in a loud voice”, was a Samaritan. As for the other nine, they could have been Samaritans too – or Jews or a mix of Jews and Samaritans. They could even have included Gentiles!
The one who returned “threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him”. Jesus interpreted this as “(giving) praise to God” – identifying himself (the one whom the Samaritan regarded as the healer) and the Father (the Samaritan was “praising God”) as one. Jesus was not deflecting the praise from himself to God; he was teaching those with him to whom their offering of gratitude should be directed.
The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were reminded again and again in the psalms of the goodness of God in rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, in guiding them and caring for them as they traversed the wilderness for forty years and in giving them the land he promised to their ancestors. Mary recognised this in her hymn of praise (known now to many as “The Magnificat” – Luke 1: 46-55).
How grateful are we for all that God has done for us? What songs can you sing, aloud or to yourself, to give glory to God and to thank him for all the wonderful acts in the past that brought you close to him and that keep you safely within his kingdom? What songs or poems do you know that recognise and express your genuine gratitude for Jesus’ saving work on the cross? Do you use them daily?