In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus healed ten lepers–people suffering from an unexplainable and very serious skin disease. A leper was marginalized and ostracized from society. Once diagnosed with this terrible disease, he or she was forced to leave their entire life behind, including families, and place in a “leper colony” often located outside of the city. Like this colony, a leper’s life would remain filled with sickness, disease and shame. To be healed from leprosy was a second chance at life. All that he or she lost due to the disease would finally be regained. The only thing standing in the way of restoration was a ceremony and a priest-issued certificate proclaiming a clean bill of health.
It seems as though nine of the lepers Jesus healed were more interested in getting their clean bill of health than giving thanks for the new life they were graciously given. I cannot say that I blame them. Its what Jesus told them to do. Plus, new life was only one piece of paper away. Perhaps I am being a bit too critical, but could it be that these nine lepers were more interested in what they were to gain from this benevolent Teacher and gift-Giver? Who knows.
Then there is the other guy. A foreigner. He came back genuinely thankful. He seems to have been the only one willing to put off the beautiful benefit of this miraculous healing long enough to give thanks to Jesus. As a result he was the only one to experience the greatest gift of all: deep inner-transformation and wholeness. All ten were healed. Only one was forever changed.
One out of ten? These are not good odds or stats. This is not a good “success” ratio. Considering these statistics one might think that Jesus would be a little more cautious about who He would help from here. Yet He continued to help, heal and serve, despite those the ones taking advantage of His gracious and benevolent love.
I don’t know about you, but when I have given to others in need I have often been overly concerned about those who were “the nine.” I would ask questions like, “What if they just squander it?” “Do they really deserve it?” “Are they abusing the system?” “Shouldn’t there be a mandatory drug test first?” All the while I have forgotten that I too have been the nine. I’ve squandered many gifts Jesus has given. I have never deserved it. I have abused His love and grace. In the past, I would have failed a drug test. Yet, Jesus gave me a second chance at life. He still does.
As I give to others may I do so with grace offered as tangible acts of compassion, and may God give me the conviction and Kingdom-of-God-informed mind and love to follow Jesus’ lead.
Have you ever been “the nine?” If so, would you be willing to share?
If you are to give like Jesus and become a giver of grace and love through tangible acts of compassion, what must change inside of you?