Most people know the story found in Luke 17:11-19 about Jesus healing ten lepers. Preachers and Bible teachers give much attention to the one leper who went back to thank Jesus for his healing while the remaining nine lepers did not. That’s a very good focus; however, preachers and teachers often stop there without going into a much deeper meaning that should be brought out when preaching or teaching this story.
A careful reading of this passage shows that ten lepers went to Jesus, and he sent them on their way saying, “Go show yourselves to the priest.” This was in keeping with the law that nine of the lepers knew. They were healed as they went along their way. When one noticed he was healed, he returned to Jesus to give Him thanks. The life application here is that our healing should provoke us to return to the Healer like the one leper did.
The essence of this message is embedded in Verses 15 and 16 that say, “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.” Perhaps the nine were so focused on keeping the law that they didn’t notice what Jesus had done. It is important that Luke tells us the one leper who returned was a Samaritan. The Samaritan didn’t know the Jewish law so he never went to see the priest.
All the lepers were healed; one, however, saw and noticed what happened. Because he saw what happened, the leper recognizes the power of Jesus which to him, a Samaritan, took precedent over the law. Because the leper saw what happened, he had something for which to be thankful for so he couldn’t keep silent. He praised God with a loud voice. Because he saw what happened, the leper changed direction, veering from his course toward a priest to first return to Jesus. Our life application should be that once we are healed, our entire direction should change.
The good news of this story does not stop with the leper returning to Jesus. The good news lies in the fact that because he returned to thank Jesus for his healing, Jesus went a step further with him unlike with the nine. Jesus gave him an additional blessing to go along with his healing. The first was the healing, and when the leper noticed and returned Jesus gave him something more.
Jesus blessed him.
Often we go along our merry way without noticing what Jesus has done. (See the picture above with the lepers going along their way skipping and leaping for joy). If we would return with a grateful heart, Jesus will give us more. In giving thanks for a gift we received, we are blessed again. In other words, gratitude puts us in a position to have more to be grateful for. In order to put the cycle in motion, notice and give thanks.