OceanSide church of Christ
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WHERE ARE THE NINE?
Victor M. Eskew
The story is familiar to all. It happened during the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“And it came to pass as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves to 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. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:11-19).
This encounter has been entitled: “Jesus Heals the Ten Lepers.” It is a story of gratitude. It is also a narrative about gross ingratitude. Let’s examine this miracle of Jesus in the remainder of this article.
In Luke 17:11-12, Jesus makes CONTACT with ten men. His “destination” was Jerusalem. His “direction” of travel was southward through Galilee and Samaria. As He went through a certain village on His journey, He came in contact with ten men. These men were “diseased.” They were afflicted with a fatal malady called leprosy. The journeys of Jesus often found Him in unique meetings. On this occasion, He came face to face with ten men who were extremely contagious.
When these ten men saw the Lord, they CRIED out unto Him (Luke 17:13). “And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” These men recognized the Christ. They acknowledged Him as Master. They may have seen Jesus and heard Him teach on previous occasions. They may have heard of the healing that He had done in other places. Apparently, they found hope in His presence. Their cry was simple: “…have mercy on us.” Mercy involves relief to the afflicted. The bodies, the minds, and the hopes of these men had been destroyed by this disease. They longed for relief and cried to Jesus for it.
These men had come to the right person. Jesus was truly the Great Physician. In Luke 17:14, we are informed of their CLEANSING. “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” This was not only a miracle, but also a wonderful blessing bestowed upon these men. Their flesh was made whole. Their pain was gone. Death was replaced with life. They could now be reunited with family and friends. These men had received the ultimate physical gift. It would be hard to imagine the joy that must have overtaken them as they made their way to the priests.
In the next two verses, we find one of the men returning to the Master. What we see is a display of CELEBRATION. “And one of them, when he saw the 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” (Luke 17:15-16). The Samaritans were not the people of God. They were a mixed breed of people. Most Jews despised them and referred to them as dogs. Yet, this is the one who returned to give thanks to Jesus He realized the magnitude of his blessing. His heart was filled with joy and gratitude. He could not leave the presence of the Lord without praising Him and expressing His thanksgiving. The picture that we have of this man prostrate at the Master’s feet is most beautiful. Here is a man caught up in the worship of the Son of God because a blessing had been bestowed upon him.
This beautiful scene takes a quick turn in Luke 17:17-18. Jesus expresses a CONCERN. “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.” We can feel the grief of the Master as He utters these words. Ten were cleansed, but only one returned to give thanks. And, this man was not a Jew. Jesus called him a stranger. The nine were ingrates. They were given a gift beyond measure but failed to extol honor upon the one who gave them the gift. This scene is blatantly opposite the previous one. The other was beautiful. This one is ugly. Nine men refused to come back to Jesus and say: “Thank you.”
The account ends with a COMMENDATION. “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: they faith hath made thee whole.” The other men were physically cleansed, but this man was complete. He was pure inside and out. His body was healed and his heart was right with God.
Dear readers, we fall into one of these two groups. All of us have been bountifully blessed by God. If we are Christians, we have been spiritually cleansed of the deadly disease of sin. Had we not been purified by Jesus’ blood, we would have faced the second death in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. What is our reaction to this cleansing? Are we like the Samaritan who returned to praise God and give thanks? Or, are we like the nine who went on their way without a word of thanks to their Deliverer?
The Lord deserves our praise and thanksgiving. The Lord desires our praise. Each time an opportunity to praise Him arises, and we are not present, He questions: “…but where are the nine?” Don’t disappoint Him. Humble yourselves at His feet and give Him thanks. Don’t just do it during this holiday season. Do it all year long. Keep in mind the example of the Samaritan. Also, keep in the mind the words of the noble apostle: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:18).