There were these ten lepers who cried out to Jesus for mercy. It hurts to imagine people being eaten away by such a horrible disease. We can see them hollering for the kind of mercy a renowned healer could give. Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” which if you think about it could have been a brush off. “Don’t get near me with that infectious stuff. Let the priests deal with you.”
Since we know his heart, that clearly wasn’t his intention. He meant go take the step you would take if your illness were healed. He didn’t heal, and then send them to the priests, just said go do it even though your affliction looks no different. They had to take that step and go, and as they went, they were healed.
So here we are with fears and trials, illness, anger, sorrow, unforgiveness—whatever it is that may be eating us alive. We cry to Jesus for mercy. And he is such a boundless source of mercy he says, “Take that step. Do what you would do if I have answered your prayer.”
Now I admit, I have a little problem here. Because not every illness is healed by a step of faith. Not every crisis is solved. Not every wounded heart restored, nor every circumstance resolved. There are so many calling for mercy and walking in faith. Walking and walking and walking …
We don’t know what the story would have told us if some of the lepers weren’t healed. All we know is that Jesus showed them all his mercy. Jesus shows us all his mercy. And we walk in the belief that his love is sufficient for all our needs—no matter how it looks.
But that’s not the end of the story. One former leper went back to praise and thank Jesus. The Lord’s like, “Where’s the rest of those dudes? Didn’t they receive mercy too?”
Our Lord is not vain or of low self-esteem. He didn’t need them to shower him with gratitude. But he knew they needed to give it. Even though they received this amazing gift, they were too self-focused to go find that marginal preacher. They needed him when they were outcasts, but once the priests restored them to the community, going back got risky. And besides, it was time to party.
How often do we accept blessings as our due? Our gifts and talents start to feel really comfortable, like they belong right where they are. How dare anything strip them away!
It’s essential for me to remember every day that anything I have is through the grace of God and to be grateful, deeply, deeply grateful. Jesus told the one who thanked him, “Your faith has saved you.” This was something the others missed out on. I believe this one saw Jesus as Lord, maybe followed him and became a disciple. This one knew a joy beyond the physical healing they all received. Through gratitude, this one stepped outside himself and knew, well, Jesus.