Read: Luke 17:11-19
Traveling on the border between Samaria (the forbidden) and Galilee (the promised), Jesus encounters a group of men with leprosy. Somehow they heard about His ability to heal this dreaded disease, so they broke the rules and sought Him out, though they were respectful enough to stand at a distance and called out in a loud voice:
Jesus, Master, have pity on us! Luke 17:13
Without missing a beat, Jesus heals them and sends them to return to the priests to be officially accepted back into the community from which they were no doubt ostracized for their uncleanliness.
You would think they would all be overwhelmed with gratitude, praise, and worship beyond words. Not so quick. One of the ten sought out Jesus to show his appreciation. One knew he was clean and fell at the feet of Jesus. One.
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.” Luke 17:17-19
The wording of Jesus’ response is interesting. The way I read this, Jesus is not looking for any glory at all. Instead, He points to God. I know this is a bit beyond human comprehension, the whole notion of the triune Father-Son-Spirit relationship is challenging, but for those listening, He provides another great example of His desire to follow the will of God.
So should we.
Even if we are foreigners.
It strikes me that we talk about Samaritans here as if we appreciate the implication. For our culture, we might substitute something a bit more relatable like whore, drug dealer, child-molester, Islamic State, Mormon, Wiccan, witch, etc., something to drive home the point that Samaritans were looked down upon as if they were scum of the earth. Obviously, I’m not advocating for anyone in the sample list provided, but let’s get real. We were called to seek those who are lost. I don’t relate to anyone in the list, but I must somehow get my mind wrapped around the idea that God wants all to come into His glory–even those I don’t like to think about!
Years ago I, when I was on active duty in the military in England, I removed myself from chapel leadership because of the presence of the new Base Chaplain. You see, he was a Mormon and was implementing new policies that offended me as a Christian. For example, the Base Christmas Tree lighting ceremony was renamed the Base Holiday Tree. Seriously. Like any other religion has an evergreen tree as its centerpiece. Don’t get me started!
I ran and joined a wonderful group of Christ-following missionaries in a nearby village. I hid myself until one day we had an event in the base chapel where we (five of us) sang an old a capella song as a tribute to someone being transferred back to the States. I sang low bass. After we were done an old lady (I mean this with the best of intentions) came up to me and asked me where I’d been? You see, I was the “song leader” for the chapel prior to the Mormon’s arrival. She flat out rebuked me: “Don’t ever hide your gifts from God again,” she convicted me, “promise me you won’t ever run away again. We needed your leadership while we were going through this dark time!” Ouch!
Glory and gratitude belongs to God alone. I’ll never forget that rebuke and I suspect the disciples will never forget the story of the Samaritan leper who was cured and worshiped Jesus.