This morning we looked at how Jesus healed ten lepers, only one of whom returned to give thanks to God. (Luke 17:11-19) This miracle of healing shows us Jesus’s concern for even the outcasts in society; His willingness to heal (and touch) those in need remains one of the most enduring sights in the gospels (as The Leprosy Mission’s logo makes clear, referring to another healing in Luke 5:13).
The ten lepers, whilst mindful of the law which meant they had to stay at a distance, nonetheless cried out to the Master for mercy. They were undaunted by their problems and convinced that Jesus could make all the difference. They were rewarded for their faith. Jesus told them to show themselves to the priest and they obeyed – and as they went, they were cleansed. They remind us that obedience is necessary in order to see miracles; believing precedes seeing. We believe in order to see the miraculous.
But next to this miraculous intervention of Jesus, we see the more mundane miracle of gratitude in the one man (a Samaritan, a foreigner) who returned to give thanks. Thankfulness and gratefulness are essential responses to God’s works in our lives. Paul tells the Thessalonians to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:18) Gratefulness is a choice we make and helps us to see even trials as joys. (James 1:2-3) Because we are confident of God’s ultimate ability to bring good for evil (Gen 50:20, Rom 8:28), we can be thankful even in difficult times. Cultivating thankfulness takes practice, commitment and a conscious choice, but the result is a second miracle and a changed life.