Scripture: Luke 17:11-19
Key verses: (11-19) On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
Reflection: This is one of my favorite stories to tell to children at this time of year. It’s such a clear and understandable example of what it means to give thanks. There are lots of uses of the words “thanks” and “thanksgiving” in the Bible, but not many happen in a story with people and action. The book of Psalms and letters of Paul encourage us to give thanks. This story shows us how.
In the time of Jesus, leprosy was more than just an uncomfortable skin disease. It meant isolation and poverty. When Jesus healed the ten men, he offered more than renewed health. A whole way of life and community was also restored. Nine of the men did exactly what Jesus said to do. They headed to show the priests that they were well, so they could be officially certified to return to the community. No doubt they were thankful. They just didn’t stop and thank the one who healed them. But one man was so overcome with gratitude that he turned back to Jesus. His thanksgiving poured out of him in a loud voice. It flowed out in action, in the way he threw himself on the ground at the feet of Jesus. It caused him to cross the divide that existed between Jew and Samaritan, just as Jesus crossed it over and over again.
As we give thanks this week, may we do more than think thankful thoughts. May our thanks pour out of us in words, in actions, and in crossing whatever barriers separate us from others.
Prayer: Lord, I give thanks to you with my whole heart. Help me live in thankfulness every day. Help my words, my actions, and my life overflow in thanksgiving for you and for others. In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].