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Jesus had left Galilee for the last time. He was resolute to travel to Jerusalem. While most in this northern region would go out of their way to avoid travelling through Samaria, our Lord chose just the opposite.
When He entered a Samaritan village, the local population did not welcome Him. That is astonishing. He disciples were miffed and asked Him if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy them. Jesus rebuked them and changed his travel to follow the border to the Jordan River.
On this detour ten lepers met Jesus and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” While Jesus had performed healing on lepers before with a touch, a word of healing or forgiveness, He responded differently this time. Instead, He told the lepers to go and show themselves to a priest.
This is odd for such an action would only be done to verify a healing not to obtain one. Yet, the ten without debate, reluctance or argument obeyed. This simple response of obedience is key.
As a result of their following the Lord’s instructions they were healed on their way to the priest. One of the ten who was healed immediately turned around and went back to Jesus to thank Him and praise God for this miracle. We don’t know much about the other nine and what they did.
The single healed leper who returned to thank Jesus was a Samaritan. He was from a people of mixed blood, ostracized by the Jews and rebellious against the laws of the Old Testament. This man had two historical community strikes against him: no hope as a leper and no hope as a half-breed.
But, Jesus was pleased with his return. While the Lord was clearly disappointed that the others did not return to say thanks, this one did. He was the most unlikely to “get it” yet, he was the only one of the ten who did.
Some may be tempted to assess this Samaritan as the only one who had real faith. But, that may be too harsh from what the Scripture allows. Certainly, this grateful man’s faith was highlighted, commendation from Jesus is clear.
However, perhaps the best lesson that we can take away from this passage is what the expression of thankfulness means to a born again believer. Christians who are the recipients of God’s grace can deepen their fellowship with God through thanksgiving. They capture the heart of God with their gifts of praise.