Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19).
We are celebrating Thanksgiving this week and I, for one, love Thanksgiving food. The turkey. The gravy. The stuffing. The sweet potato casserole with marshmallow and brown sugar on top. The pecan pie. I love it all. I enjoy every bite. And I probably take more bites than I need. Don’t you? But as much as you should be thankful for the food you’ll eat, shouldn’t you also be praising the chef who prepared it? Wouldn’t forgetting to compliment the chef be rude?
That reminds me of the leper’s thanksgiving in Luke 17:11-19.
Jesus healed ten lepers. Presumably, nine were Jewish, and one was a Samaritan (whom Jesus bluntly called “this foreigner”). Jesus commanded them to see the priests who would verify their healing and re-introduce them into society. The lepers weren’t healed right away. Instead, they were healed as they walked to the Temple. They were cleansed on the way.
Can you imagine the relief and amazement they must have felt?
Remember, when you’re a leper, you’re cut off from society. If you were married, you wouldn’t see your wife again, or see your kids grow up, or your best friend get married. You wouldn’t be able to bury your grandmother or grandfather. Your work, synagogue, and favorite inn would be closed to you. If you were a leper, wouldn’t you be dreaming all day long about going back home? And imagine how you would feel if God suddenly removed that insurmountable trial in your life! What would you do? Of course, you would rejoice! And you should!
But you can enjoy your blessing so much—whether you are wearing it, feeling it, driving it, living in it, spending it, resting in it—that you forget to glorify God. You can be so focused on the blessing that you lose sight of the Savior Who gave it to you.
It seems that nine of the ten lepers did exactly that. Only the Samaritan came back to thank Him and fell at Jesus’ feet. Where were the others?
Now, before you judge those other nine too harshly, remember that Jesus told them to “go.” If they kept going without turning back, they were just following orders. Yet, so far as we know, the nine lepers never came back to glorify Jesus! And that’s the problem. I’m sure that after seeing the priests, they ran back home to their families to tell them the good news and to celebrate their restoration. But at some point, wouldn’t you want to find Jesus? At some point, wouldn’t you want to thank Him and praise Him and fall down at His feet?
Here’s the danger: you can be so taken with enjoying the good news about you, that you forget to celebrate the good news about Him. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your blessing. But don’t forget to take even more enjoyment in the Blesser!