This event is remarkable in several ways. First, Jesus demonstrates that he has the power to heal. Along with other occasions when he heals, Jesus proves that he is God by the demonstration of his power and authority over the physical world. Second, Jesus shows us the compassion and concern he has for others. As Kim wrote earlier this week, lepers were avoided and rejected by society as dangerous and hopeless. Jesus treated them with dignity and compassion. The third thing here is the sad reality of our human nature. It is easy to criticize the nine who didn’t come back, but if we are honest, I imagine most of us fall into that mentality. We will pursue God when we need help, but once it comes we get busy enjoying the blessing and forget the one who blessed us. It is very interesting that the one leper who did come back to thank Jesus was a Samaritan. From a spiritual background the Samaritans were not only outsiders, but seen as heretics by the Jews. Samaritans had some unbiblical beliefs that led to serious animosity between the two groups. Yet, the one who was most open to Jesus was the one who came from the least likely background. I see this a lot. People who have grown up with little or no healthy spiritual training experience God’s help in overcoming an addiction, habit, health scare or family problem, and they are humbled and deeply grateful. Yet, others who know God and have been part of a good church have a similar experience and their response is more like the nine who went on their way without stopping to express gratitude.
To protect ourselves from being one of the nine, we need to practice the art of regular gratitude. Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” (NASV) Recognizing and expressing gratitude to God for his work in and through us is the only way to stay close to him. The Samaritan set a great example for all of us to follow.