‘Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? ‘ Luke 17:17
As Jesus was passing through a Samaritan village, ten men yelled out for him at a distance. They were forbidden by Levitical law to come close, for they were inflicted with leprosy. For them, leprosy was a cruel disease, but moreover, it was a slow death sentence without a cure. The villagers forced out any leprous people, where they could only congregate with each other, outside of the city walls. Their entire outlook changes, when, at a distance, Jesus passes by. Screaming for his attention, the ten lepers ask for a miracle; that Jesus would make them well.
Why were they healed? Was it the mercy of Jesus that they asked for when they screamed “Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 11:13) On the other hand Jesus told one of them “Your faith has made you well,” and that it wasn’t until “they were going” that “they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14, 19). The answer is that both mercy and faith were needed.
The truth is, we all have a slow and painful death sentence upon us, from an evil spiritual disease named sin. We are pushed out, secluded, and forced to live on death row, knowing death will come for us sooner rather than later. Our only hope is that Jesus will pass us by. To be saved from sin, we must have the mercy of Jesus, who died on the cross for us. We must also have faith enough to plead with Jesus to save us, and a faith that takes action believing that he will save us. Our salvation is a beautiful mix of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ‘ Ephesians 2:8
Indeed, that day, ten men were healed from leprosy, however the passage focuses in on just one of them. Once he was healed, one man “turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Jesus.” Having been saved from such a desperate situation, this man was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Notice the verbs: he “turned back”, “glorified God”, “fell on his face at His feet,” and “gave thanks.” Do we have an attitude of gratitude with God for how He has treated us? And are we willing to glorify Him always, giving thanks, and worshipping at His feet?
Jesus immediately understood that this man was grateful, but in a very penetrating question, Jesus asks “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine- where are they?” The issue with the church today, is that God has saved many from sin and death itself, but their hearts are stubborn and never grateful. They have forgotten from where God rescued them – that they were condemned to die. To be true to our savior, we must have the passion to return to our Savior and give Him praise and thanks continually.