I was reading this morning in Luke 11 about when Jesus healed the ten lepers. Out of the ten that were healed, only one came back to Jesus to thank him and give praise to God for the healing that took place. This man was a Samaritan. I've heard this story probably a hundred times, but this morning I was struck by something that I had never noticed before.
These men come to Jesus to be healed of their leprosy. Instead of healing them on the spot, Jesus tells them to go present themselves to the priest. In their day, lepers were outcasts. They were "unclean." Because leprosy was so contagious, lepers were forced to divorce themselves from society and form their own groups so as to avoid spreading their leprosy to other people. If by some miracle, someone's leprosy were go into remission, the leper could not just instantly enter back into society. There were safeguards in place. The leper must present himself to the priest and the priest would examine him and declare him either clean or unclean.
So Jesus tells these men to go present themselves to the priest for examination. He hadn't even healed them yet. But "as they were going" they began being healed of their leprosy. It was the faith in responding to Jesus command that activated the healing.
Now, I've noticed all of that before. None of that was new to me. What I didn't notice was the timing of the one who came back to Jesus. Many English translations miss it. About the one who returned the NIV says that "when he saw he was healed, came back." Rather than "came back," the literal rendering is "turned back." Do you get it yet? This wasn't some time later after he had been to the priest. He didn't have to track Jesus down to thank him. As he was going (to the priest) he was healed, and then he turned back (before he ever reached the priest) to tell Jesus how grateful he was and to give praise to God. The others were primarily concerned with getting their lives back. They had one thought: to get to the priest, to be declared clean, and enter back into a normal life. But for this one man, all that stuff became secondary. He knew he had to get back to Jesus. The thankfulness in his heart was exploding and he had to release upon the one who had brought him healing.
You see this man was a Samaritan. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. He had no reason to believe that Jesus would even speak to him, much less heal him. Much like the American church today, the many of the Jews were plauged with a sense of entitlement. Sure, these other nine men were grateful, but the probably figured that if Jesus was capable of healing them, then they had it coming to them. They were God's chose people and if it was available, they were entitled to their healing. But this Samaritan had no such sense of entitlement. Out of the ten, he and he alone recognized the grace that was being bestowed upon him. He had a true sense of how great his need was.
I'm going to write more on this in the coming days and maybe weeks, but for now I'll give you a sneak preview of where my head is at. Here (I think) is the formula:
The greater the grace
The greater the gratitude