There were ten of them, and they were lepers. According to the narrative, they “stood afar off” from Jesus as they lifted up their voices and said, “‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ And when He saw them, He said unto them, yourselves unto the priests.’ And it came to pass that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger'” (Luke 17:12-18, KJV).
The Bible does not tell us what happened to the nine. However, it would be fair to conclude that after showing themselves to the priest, who in turn confirmed they were indeed cleansed, they returned to the families and friends they were isolated from as a result of the disease. Nowhere do we read that they collectively thanked and praised God for their healing. Of the ten healed, only one returned to glorify God, and that one was not even a Jew! The nine failed to recognize that having been shown grace and mercy, they had a responsibility and an obligation to thank God for His goodness towards them. The psalmist came to the same conclusion when he declared, “What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD. I will now pay my vows unto the LORD in the presence of all His people” (Psalm 116:12-14). Or, as The Message Bible paraphrases the verses, “What can I give back to GOD for the blessings He’s poured out on me? I’ll lift high the cup of salvation–a toast to GOD! I’ll pray in the name of GOD; I’ll complete what I promised GOD I’d do, and I’ll do it together with His people.” When we receive God’s favour, we “owe” Him something!
Charles Edward Jefferson was right when he said, “Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count past mercies.” Bible scholar John Gill observes, “They are many, that are cleansed by the blood of Christ; His blood was shed for many, for the remission of sins; and by His righteousness, He justifies many; at least there are many who profess themselves to be cleansed by Him, and yet there are but few that glorify Him, by keeping close to the rule of His word, by giving up themselves to the churches of Christ, and by walking with them in the ordinances of the Gospel.” In other words, many of us are no different than the unthankful nine. God has blessed us beyond what we deserve, and we often fail to give Him the glory and thanks. We return to life as we left it; it is business as usual.
“‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger'” Are you one of the nine?