Where are the nine?
I love the month of November. Not just because it’s the month within which Thanksgiving Day falls but also it’s the month in which my birthday falls. Also I really happen to like the number 11.
The bible teaches us that we should give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
As the year draws close to an end, it's easy to fall into thinking about all the things we should have achieved by now that we haven’t yet been able to achieve. Things that we hoped for and prayed about, which we are yet to receive an answer from God. It's easy for us to think about all the things that are generally still in our pending tray and then get discouraged. So much so that it can affect our ability to see the blessings that are right before our very eyes. Things that the Lord blesses us with daily that we may take for granted. Unsurprisingly, we all know what these things are. Air, water, sunshine, a bed to sleep on, family, access to the internet… things we casually consider 'usual stuff.'
Where are the nine?
In this story from Luke 17:11-19, when ten men with leprosy call out to Jesus to heal them, He sends them off on a short trip - “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” Verse 14 reads, “And as they went, they were cleansed.”
Now we know it was a short distance because one man came back! “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan." (Luke 17: 15-16 KJV).
Not only did this one leper, a foreigner, give thanks for his healing, but it was with a loud voice plus he fell down on his face and feet! So he wasn’t just quick thankful he was super thankful - he was grateful.
“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18 NIV).
We see here that there were only two requirements on the men’s part –
1. to return,
2. to give thanks.
Based on the severity of leprosy, which probably included stigma and isolation from society (They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” – Verse 12) it's easy to assume that all ten men would have been very happy and grateful for this healing. So what happened to the nine? Did they get busy straight afterwards? Did they run off to share the news with their families all the while forgetting the healer?
How often in our own lives do we forget to return? When Jesus meets us in our area of need or solves a complex challenge. When we are so quick to go tell others and forget to say – thank you Jesus.
I believe the most important part of this story is what Jesus said to the one man that came back to say thank you – “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19 KJV)
Now we know that this man had already been healed, but because he returned and said thank you – Jesus says, His faith made him whole! So now he was healed and whole!
The opposite of gratitude is complaining. We find the dangers of complaining in the book of Exodus when the Israelites grumbled and ended up spending 40 years in the wilderness in what should have been an 11-day journey to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1). God still looked after them, providing them with manna and quail for food and fighting off their enemies. However many of them did not get to cross over into the promised land. They received their healing from slavery but did not get to enjoy the whole experience of entering into the Promised Land.
May we be encouraged to make it a daily habit to say thank you to God. For things big and small. May we be passionate about it just as this one Samaritan man was. Regardless of our circumstances may we say thank you Jesus for a new day. May we be made whole. AMEN.
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.