It is amazing what we take for granted. People can take their spouse for granted until they are taken from them. Parents can take their children for granted until their child is sick or dead. People who take the Lord’s name in vain by swearing and cursing take for granted that God exists and will hold them accountable for every foolish word spoken. We take for granted technology, especially my generation who was raised surrounded by new technology. In Luke 17.11-19, I believe we find an account of men who took something for granted.
Ten Sick Men
Jesus is in the borderland, that territory betwixt and between Samaria and Galilee. It is probably a place of great tension as Jew mingles with Samaritan, the hated half-breeds. It is incredible that I hear so many televangelists talk about Christianity being “anti-semetic” (which simply is not true for God wants all men to be saved) yet they seem to forget that it was the Jews of the first century who were dogmatically prejudiced and racist. The Jew of the first century hated the Samaritans!
But there is a common ground upon which ten men united that day Jesus was travelling through: sickness. On this day, these men were no longer Jew or Samaritan; they were lepers. Ten men stood at a distance and shouted in loud voices, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (v. 13, ESV). These men are crying aloud to God incarnate for mercy. We, too, at one time, we crying aloud to the Master. Ours was not physical leprousy but spiritual leprosy, yes, sin. We needed mercy, grace, pardon.
In response to their cry, Christ gives them a command: “Go and show yourselves to the priests” (v.14). Now what would ten lepers have to show the priests? They were unclean, unable to even come close to the place of worship. Unable to even intermingle with people. These men are to go on the basis of faith; faith that by the time they arrive to see the priests, their leprosy will be healed. Indeed, that is what happened – on the way, their leprosy was cleansed.
One Saved Man
One of the men who was sent by Jesus noticed that he was healed. I don’t know how this took place, if he saw from the others that their leprosy was cleared up or if he saw himself first, but he did know that he was healed of this leprosy. Did he make it to the priests? The text does not say. But he turned back and was worshipping God all the way back to Jesus. Luke tells us it was with a “loud voice” that he was praising God. Picture it: here is man, searching for Jesus, shouting aloud praise to God everywhere he goes. What a picture for us! We too have been healed from our spiritual leprosy. Why not go about praising God and thanking Christ?
This man finds Jesus and falls at his feet, another sign of worship. Here he is reconizing the deity of Jesus. Jesus does not stop him, for Jesus is God in the flesh. And then Luke gives us the final detail of this picture which colors the whole scene: “He was a Samaritan.” This is no small detail. For the Jew, it would have smeared the whole scene. For the Gentile (Theophilus?), what brilliance this adds. No one, not even the hated half breeds, were outside of the mercy and love of God. But Jesus has some questions for this Samaritan man…
The way Jesus remembers it, there were ten men he had to heal; where are the rest? Weren’t they all healed from their leprosy (rhetorical, for Jesus knows)? Where is everyone else, worshipping and thanking God? Ah, and there we have it. You see these nine who did not return took for granted the healing of Jesus. He had healed lepers before (see 5.12-14; also possibly 4.40). And He had used much the same formula: a person with leprosy comes, he says go show yourself to the priest, the leper is healed. They must have known He was able to help and that is why they came to Him. And they went away, taking for granted the healing power of Christ; all except for one, a Samaritan.
I suppose at the heart of this is ingratitude. Unless we are in constant praise to God for everything he gives us (including life, breath, and being), we will take God and His power for granted. It is a “ho-hum” attitude of the majestic power of God. I think those nine who did not return had a ho-hum attitude of the healing power of Christ; they just knew He could heal and it was business as usual for Him to heal. How often do we resemble the nine instead of the one? It is just business as usual as we breath, as we live. We expect that from God (as though we deserved it). It is this ho-hum attitude toward the awesome power of God that will lead us toward a less grateful attitude of the blessings, great or small, of God.