Ten Lepers: Blessing the Ungrateful

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:12-13)

Ten lepers came to Jesus for healing from a disease that made their lives truly miserable both physically and socially. All ten were cleansed. Only one – a Samaritan – returned to give thanks. “Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner,” Jesus asked.

Jesus took pity on many who would ultimately prove ungrateful. He still does. In his extravagant mercy, he pours out his love on the just and the unjust.

Of the ten, the thankful Samaritan is the one who truly fulfilled God’s intent and in so doing was doubly blessed. His body was cleansed and his heart was filled with gratitude. Those who unite themselves to Christ in thanksgiving are blessed far beyond the particular gifts he bestows on them.  

Certainly, the grateful Samaritan modeled the proper response to Jesus; he serves as an example to all of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus, however, did not limit his gifts to those who would eventually give their lives to him.

To some, this may simply look like a sound recruiting strategy. You only get a fractional response to your advertising. If you are in the miracle business, you have to work a lot of miracles before you get a convert. Some seed falls on rocky ground and some seed falls on good ground, as Jesus said. Jesus’ boundless compassion, however, is not merely a recruiting strategy.

Jesus pours out his blessings on the ungrateful because God loves them too. Like parents looking on their estranged and suffering children, he still seeks the best for them.

When you see ten people in need, bless them all regardless of how you think they will respond. Be like your Father in heaven who loves all those whom he has made. And, who knows, maybe one of them will return to give thanks to the source of all blessings. Maybe it will even be the one you least expect.

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