Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?
I have said it before and I will say it again: I love the Gospel of Luke. If we did not have the Gospel of Luke in the Bible, then we would not have this wonderful story of Jesus being approached by ten lepers, of whom one was a Samaritan. Jesus draws near to a village and this band of ten lepers see Him … keep their distance … and call out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. They could look healed of their disease, but priests were the ones alone, who declared them clean and who permitted them to return to their families and be restored to community.
The lepers do what Jesus commanded them to do. On their way to the priests, they are healed. They all may have sensed this happening as they ran or they may have noticed the lesions healing, but only one leper stops, turns back and praises God with a loud voice. He fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.
Surprise #1 It is only then that we learn this one was not one of them! He was not a Galilean or a Judean. He was a Samaritan … a foreigner … a half breed … an outsider.
Surprise #2 From what we know of this terrible disease that afflicted many, a word of thanks is the very least we would expect from those who had been healed. The affliction took its toll not solely physically but emotionally, as they were forced to live in colonies, forced to live away from family and friends, and commanded to call out “Unclean” when unsuspecting persons approached them.
Surprise #3 This Samaritan is the one that would most likely not have been expected to return and give praise to God.
Surprise #4 This Samaritan, not the other nine, is commended for his faith and is sent away in peace.
I love this story because it stresses the importance of expressing gratitude, here primarily to Jesus and God. I think it also presents us with a good reminder to make the efforts to express our appreciation, gratitude and thanks to other for the good things that are done for us.
Good Lord, we thank You for this wonderful story found only in the Gospel of Luke. It teaches how important it is to express our appreciation, gratitude and thanks to You, first and foremost, and second, to those who shower us with gifts or who serve us in any number of different ways. Help us to speak and show that we do not take people or their gifts for granted. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.