God’s Gifts are Irrevokable

It happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11–19)

Jesus made a habit of going to all the wrong places and hanging out with all the wrong people. Not only did he go to Samaria, but then he met up with its lepers. According to the law, they had to stand apart from others and call out “unclean” so that people would know to avoid them. When the ten wanted Jesus to heal them, they didn’t come near. Instead, they begged for mercy from a distance. Jesus’ response was simply to tell them to go show themselves to the priests. A leper had to go through a lot in order to gain official recognition of his cleansing. Leviticus 14 lays out all the details. There were ceremonial washings. He had to shave off of every last hair on his body. And he had to perform a series of sacrifices.

As those ten men started on the journey to present themselves to the priests their disease left them. Nine of the men continued on their way. But one of them, a Samaritan, turned back to glorify God. Jesus thought that it was strange that only one, the one who wasn’t even an Israelite, expressed thanks. Jesus told that man, and that man only, that his faith had healed him.

But notice: the other nine remained healed. Jesus did not take back his blessing from the other nine lepers who failed to thank him. God’s gifts are irrevocable. Jesus intervenes in our lives because of his mercy, not because he gets something from us. But he still appreciates getting thanked.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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