Celebration of Gratitude: Healed, Accepted and Restored - 23 May 2019

Louise Gevers

“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.” Luke 17:15-16

In biblical times a leper was dead to society, an outcast. He suffered a disease that attacked the nervous system, deforming skin and bones and twisting and crippling limbs. Leprosy destroyed the body’s greatest natural defence - the ability to feel pain – causing hideous injuries and disfigurement. It also stole his dignity, as lepers were made to wear torn clothes, cover their top lip and shout ‘Unclean, unclean’, or wear bells, as they walked along, so that people would be warned that they were coming. Everyone kept away from them for fear of catching their disease.

So, disfigured, deformed, infected and unwanted was the state of the ten lepers who stood at a distance, calling to Jesus to have mercy on them and heal them. Jesus had compassion on them and healed them with a simple instruction. In telling them to show themselves to the priests, He was actually instructing them to follow the normal procedure after a cure, making their obedience an act of faith; and, “as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14)

What happened after this remarkable event is noteworthy. Only one of the ten came back to thank Jesus. He had been sooverjoyed by his healing that he praised God as he came and threw himself at Jesus’ feet in gratitude. The other nine seemingly took this spectacular gift for granted and didn’t look back; they missed joyfully celebrating new life. “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? … Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18)

To the grateful foreigner, a Samaritan, whose people were traditionally looked down upon by the Jews, Jesus said: “Rise and go; your faith has made you well”. (Luke 17:19) Not only did Jesus accept him and restore his health and dignity, He restored his soul.

Jesus is not daunted by our illnesses, or the sin-sickness which deforms us and makes us not immune to the things that harm and disfigure us. We are all outcasts until He has healed us. When we call to Him, like the lepers, He will be compassionate and meet our needs.

When we embrace what Jesus makes available to us all, and are numbered with the one who returns to throw himself at His feet to thank Him, we will truly celebrate.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, please open our eyes to the deformities of sin in our own lives. Show us your compassion and heal us. Let gratitude soften our hardened hearts so that we can overflow with joy and celebrate all that you have done for us through accepting us and restoring our souls. Amen.

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