Jesus restores ten lepers to life and community. From their forced separation because of their disease, he gives them access again to their families. Only one, a Samaritan, a foreigner to whom Jesus is forbidden to speak, returns to thank him. The Samaritan falls at Jesus’ feet and offers gratitude to God. Why is he the only one to offer thanks? asks Jesus. Ten are offered new life, but only one gives witness to that transforming moment.
What about the nine? They are cleansed and can embrace their families again. They can enter worship and no longer hear their neighbors whisper that their disease is the direct result of a sin they have committed. With a little effort, the nine might even forget that they had been sick. But are they made well? The text suggests that something is missing for them.
When the Samaritan acknowledges the source of his transformation, he finds wholeness, a condition that includes and transcends physical health. Like the nine, he can return from the exile his illness had mandated; but unlike them, he pauses to consider his healing and what it means to him. Knowing that he can do nothing else, he returns to Jesus to give thanks.
Some of us will never know physical or emotional healing from diseases that afflict us. Like exiles who spend their entire lives in Babylon, we may live with an illness or a broken relationship. We may feel deep grief at the death of one we loved. The pain may subside, but it will never completely leave us in this life. Still we are promised the presence of One who dwells with us during our exile. If we seek even the smallest signs of God’s sustaining presence and give thanks for them, we will find renewed life and healing even in our brokenness.
O One who wills my wholeness, I acknowledge your presence bringing healing and restoration. Amen.
Through Jeremiah, God sends a message to the people in exile: They are to seek good for the city of Babylon, their new home. God will bless the city and in doing so will bless God’s people. The psalmist encourages the people to praise God with songs recounting past challenges through which God’s powerful deeds have brought them. This can be encouragement for those currently experiencing difficulties. In Second Timothy, Paul encourages his protégé to endure suffering if necessary. In fact, Timothy should expect to experience resistance. Although the apostle is in chains, the word of God is powerful and can never be chained. The story in Luke reminds us of a basic truth: We should remember to show gratitude to God for answered prayers.
Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you experienced physical or metaphorical exile? How has God helped you to thrive in your Babylon?
Read Psalm 66:1-12. Recall a time of division in your family or community of faith. How did God bring you individually and collectively to a spacious place?
Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you remember Christ in your actions toward others?
Read Luke 17:11-19. What boundaries keep you from full wellness that can be found in Jesus Christ?
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