Thankfulness and Healing: The Ten Lepers

By Pr Ay Nee Ng

Let us read Luke 17:11-19 (NIV) titled “Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy”.

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.’

Jacques and Emily recently had a baby, and we sent them some gifts for the new baby boy, Josiah, via Jacques before the birth of Josiah. Immediately, we received a “thank you” text. We were also warmed and touched with an invitation to their baby welcome party. The text said that they were so thankful for the gift, it was just what they needed for their new baby, and they were so blessed. It really made me feel good that they took the time to say: “thank you” even though she was on the way to the hospital to give birth to Josiah.

But don’t you just hate when someone does something nice for you, and then you got to be reminded by saying, “Now, what do you say? You knew what to say, didn’t you?” We all know what to say, but unfortunately, we sometimes forget to say it or are tardy in expressing our thankfulness. This is what happened in our Bible story today about the ten lepers that were healed by Jesus.

Do you know what a leper is? It is not an animal with spots on it. That’s a leopard! However, a leper does have spots or sores, dreadful sores on the skin. A leper is a person who has a terrible skin disease called leprosy in which the skin has sores all over, slowly eating away the hands and limbs. It is infectious disease, but it has been contained now.  Leprosy was very common in Jesus’ day, and people who had this disease were thought to be unclean. There were strict rules that a leper had to observe. The person had to live outside the camp away from other people so the disease would not spread. If the sores went away, the leper had to go to the priest to be examined. If the priest said that the man was no longer contagious, he could go back and live with his family.

Even before Jesus’ times, sometimes people who disobeyed God suffered from leprosy. Miriam, the sister of Moses, got leprosy because she and Aaron, her brother, said that God should be speaking through them as He did through their brother Moses. Miriam was jealous, envious, and unrepentant.

Also, King Uzziah of Judah got leprosy because he rebelled against God. At the beginning of his reign, he was a good king, but later he began to disobey. One day he decided to go into the temple to burn incense to God. Only the priests were allowed to do this, and he was not a priest. God struck him with leprosy, and he had to live in a separate house for the rest of his life.

Back to the story of ten lepers, we read that Jesus was walking through a small village when he saw a group of ten lepers. They stood far away from Jesus and called to him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us”. Obviously, they knew who Jesus was and that He had the power to heal them. When Jesus heard them, He called back to the lepers and said, “Go, show yourself to the priest”. As they were going, a wonderful thing happened. Their skin became clean and free from leprosy! Just imagine the joy they must have felt.

Jesus had healed them. They were so happy that they ran up and down the streets singing and dancing because now they could be reunited back into their families and the community and not be shunned by the public. Nine of the men continued on to go to the priest, but one man turned back and came to Jesus. He was praising God with a loud voice, and he fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. This man was a Samaritan (from the region of Samaria), and the Samaritans were hated by the Jews and considered outcasts.

Why did Jesus mention this? You may ask: “What is this to me?” Well, Church, you have a disease that has made you an outcast. No one wants to come near you or be seen by you. On top of it, your race, skin colour, or other characteristic makes you an outcast too. Have you ever felt like this? Somehow you have been alienated from work, your family, your social life, and church. In that situation, good thoughts may turn into negative, inferior thoughts of neglect, self-pity, and maybe depression. You are going through a roller coaster of emotions because of your illness.

Take your financial or work situation. Somehow you may not speak the lingo of your co-workers, have no job experience here, or feel in disadvantage. No one may be treating you fair, and most of all, you may even be disliked or hated by someone. What about church? Each church has its own church culture. If you come from a different church and still hang on to its culture, you may feel alienated and have difficulty fitting in. The Samaritan leper was considered an outcast both for his illness and his race. Yet, Jesus saw beyond the predicament of the ten lepers, including the Samaritan, went past their health condition and race, and spoke with them because they called out to Jesus for mercy and help.

At the end of the story, Jesus asked where the other nine men were. Ten were healed, but only one came back to give thanks, and he was a foreigner. The most hated race by the Jews knew what it was to receive God’s forgiveness, compassion, and mercy after being shunned from society, family, and friends and being an outcast for ages. The Samaritan leper had nothing, not even a life, but now, he had received a miracle and realized that Jesus had more to offer. He had come back for he had tasted goodness beyond measure! Then Jesus told the man: “Rise and go. Your faith has made you well”.

This story is about thankfulness and faith in the Lord who changes our perspective in life! Only one of the men that Jesus healed came back to thank Him. When we have received much, let us give thanks and praise. When we give thanks and praise, we tend to reassess our situation and to learn to let go of the past and to adopt a new value system. Church, are we generally thankful and grateful? Do we appreciate what our families, friends, and Church have done for us? Our parents work very hard to provide and to give us the things that we need and see to our education. Do we thank them? Do we show our appreciation by cooperating with them? It starts by appreciating and being thankful for the little things that we have. Is our thankfulness and gratitude deemed by actions that please us or in our favour, or worst, only short-lived?

God does so much for us! Every day He provides everything we need: food, clothing, and a place to live and He wants to heal us. Do we ever forget to say, “Thank You?” Let’s stop right now and say “Thank You” and ask God to help us remember to thank Him every day. Let us pray:

Dear Lord,
You have given us everything we need, but we often forget to say “Thank You.” We thank you now and ask you to help us to remind us to give thanks every day for all that you do for us, to help us to count our blessings, and to name them one by one. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God is here to heal as He healed the lepers through Jesus. First, we will look at some scriptures on healing, and then, we will move on to the necessary steps for healing.

Is Healing Prescribed in the Bible?
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps. 103:1-5).

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men” (Ps. 107:19-21).

“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body” (Prov. 4:20-22).

“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you…” (Ex. 23:25).

“Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jer. 17:14).

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).

Healing was prophesied in our Saviour and Messiah Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53:4-5. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

We can also see healing in Jesus ministry in Luke 4:17-21. “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’”.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).

Church, ten lepers with situations beyond their control cried out to Jesus for mercy and grace, and He look at them with favour and healed them. Can we not cry out to God through Jesus to heal us and to help us in whatever situation we are in and give thanks? By giving thanks, God seals our healing so we can have victory over our sins.

Five Steps Needed for Healing

1. Look for Jesus. The lepers went out to meet him (Luke 17:12). They heard and knew Jesus had the power to heal.
2. Call out to Jesus. The lepers called out to Jesus loudly to make themselves known (Luke 17:13).
3. Appeal to His nature, His mercy and goodness (Luke 17:13).
4. Act on faith. The lepers went looking for the priest (Luke 17:14) and their faith made them well. Likewise, our faith in the Lord will make us well. Do we have faith in Jesus?
5. Give thanks. You have eternal life through salvation. Only one leper came back and gave thanks; he knew Jesus offers more than just healing (Luke 17:16, 19).

Jesus has the living water that overflows and is the way and the truth and the life. Jesus offers salvation. When we have salvation in Jesus, not only we are saved us from our sins but we also have victory over our sins and strength to go on. “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (Ps. 118:14).

“You pushed me violently so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly…” (Ps. 118:13-15).

“The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (Ex. 15:2)

“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1)

“I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation” (Ps. 118:21).

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Ps. 136:1).

Now let’s turn to our Lord Jesus Christ for healing by prayer with thanksgiving.