“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”
We wouldn’t say that there was a room full of “cancers” as we entered the chemo section of a hospital. We would see the patients as people in the battle against the powerful enemy cancer.
Not so with leprosy in the first century. You didn’t have leprosy. You were a leper. It wasn’t something you battled. It defined you. You lost your name, your family, and your identity. You were a leper.
Jesus encountered ten of them.
They stood at a distance, but they weren’t about to let that stand in their way. They shouted one thing. They asked for His mercy. When He saw them, He gave them a simple command. They were to go to the priests in the Temple so they could be pronounced clean from this disease that had taken over their lives.
Those few words were a game changer. They began their day as lepers but they would end their day as men, husbands, fathers, sons, friends. They would have their lives back. Those few words made all the difference in their worlds.
As they went they were cleansed.
But as incredible as it sounds only one of them came back. Only one. His life had been changed, and he was not about to forget. He fell on his face out of gratitude.
But where were the others? Weren’t there ten?
We can look at this account and wonder at that kind of callous response to His gift. But when was the last time we fell on our faces for the gift of worship music or the gift of our homes or the gift of food or the gift of families or the gift of our church or the gift of eternal life?
Weren’t there ten?