Jesus loved to teach in parables. But there were also times in which Jesus allowed the situation itself to become the parable. Such is the case in Luke, chapter 17.
Jesus was making his way toward Jerusalem and was somewhere along an area between Galilee and Samaria. As He traveled along, there were 10 men with leprosy who cried out to Him from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” Leprosy was a debilitating disease that left the person with terrible skin sores, white spots and often damage to hands and feet. Lepers were required to live separate from others so as to not spread the disease, and that is why they called out from a distance.
Jesus’ response to these lepers was to send them off to see the priest. The only reason that lepers would be sent off to show themselves to the priest would be to determine if they were fit to return to society. In short, they would have to be healed of the disease. As these men began to make their way to see the priest, they looked and realized that they were healed. This is where the story takes an interesting turn.
You would think that every one of the men would be so grateful for their healing that they would return to Jesus immediately and offer a word of thanks. Yet only one of the men, a Samaritan, rushed back to Jesus and offered an outpouring of thanks and praise. This one who returned to give thanks received an additional, unexpected blessing from the Lord, and the man is rewarded for his act of faith.
This story is rich with both social and spiritual meaning. But for now, let us focus on the other nine. They received the best gift that a leper could possibly ever hope for, their healing. They were now free to engage in life, to live among the rest of their family, to engage in business with others, to buy food and other goods and to go wherever their station in life allowed them.
How long do you suppose before they began to gripe and grumble about the problems of life? How long before they were complaining about the days being too hot or the nights too cold? How long before this awesome blessing meant so little? And so now, ask yourself, are you more like the one or the nine?