“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” cried out the ten lepers with one unanimous and importunate voice. They were standing about ten feet away from Christ who was headed for Jerusalem and was now at the border between Galilee and Samaria.
These lepers had heard about Christ, how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. If there was one disease that could be described as ‘the oppression’, plunging the bearer into ostracism and complete worthlessness in the society, it was leprosy. So, on seeing Jesus and the crowd around him, they trailed Him until he entered a certain village, hoping on Him, as saviour and deliver, to take this yoke of disease from them.
On hearing their voice, Jesus stopped and turned to face them. Weary as He was, he did not put them off, nor adjourn their cause. His disciples and the crowd too that were tagging along stopped. Jesus nudged them aside to get a clear view of these men. The lepers moved a little closer to Christ but maintained a distance, knowing that by the law, their disease obliged them to keep their distance.
Christ beckoned on them with His hands and spoke on top of His voice saying, “Go show yourselves unto the priest!” What! The lepers must have thought. It wasn’t what they were expecting. One of them murmured saying, “Let him either cure us or say that he will not, and not send us to the priests on a fool’s errand.” The others hushed him, reminding him that it was Christ’s command, whose words never fell to the ground. It was a tough thing to do; for one only goes to the priest after cure, for confirmation, to be pronounced whole. In unison, they turned, to go to the priest. It was a test of their obedience, and they passed it.
As they walked and talked about other matters on their way, suddenly they discovered they were healed. They shouted for joy, touching each other, feeling their skin; they even hugged one another for a while, then continued their journey, now in a haste, to see the priest. They couldn’t wait to be looked upon by the priest and have a certificate from him that they were clean, to be discharged from his confinement.
Then one of the lepers, the only Samaritan among them, stopped abruptly on the way. The others turned to look at him, and with their eyes, demanded what the problem was. He spoke up saying he had to get back to Jesus before going to the priest. The others asked, “For what?” “To thank Him.” He replied. “Please that can wait.” someone said. But he ignored them, turning around to get to Jesus, the Author of his cure. For he desired Christ to have the glory of it, before he derived the benefit of it.
He ran back, jumping at some point and walking at other, the joy in his soul bubbling out. In no time he got to Jesus. On hearing this man shouting, Jesus stopped and turned again in His journey. This time, the cleansed Samaritan got to just a hand’s breath from Christ. With a loud voice, with singing and dancing, with a hearty and affectionate countenance, he glorified God and praised Him, who had healed him. He fell down on the ground in front of Jesus, face down in the dust, thanking Him for what He had done.
Then Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the nine? Only this Samaritan came to give God the glory?” For this Samaritan had distinguished himself; for the Samaritans were separatists from the Jews, not knowing the true worship of God.
Jesus, holding his hand, lifted him up saying, “Stand up and go. Your faith has made you whole.” For the other nine had their cure by the wholesale spoken word of Christ, and were headed to have it confirmed by an earthly priest, but he had his cure, and by the singular act of thanksgiving, had it confirmed and perfected by the High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.
Food for thought: (1) We have to be speedy in our returns of praise, less time wears out the weight of the mercy received. (2) Thanksgiving, done heartily and affectionately, perfects and makes permanent what God has done.
Scriptural reference (s): Luke 17:11-19