In the day, you normally wouldn’t have seen them hanging out together, for Jews had no dealings with Samaritans (Jn. 4:9b). Samaritans were viewed as an impure and unclean people. But hey, when you’re unclean yourself, guess it doesn’t much matter.
And so the nine Jewish lepers, and their co-sufferer, the Samaritan, had become a bit of a brotherhood. They lived between Samaria and Galillee and at a distance from everyone else (Lk. 17:11-13). And when opportunity came knocking, they went after it as a cohort together.
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (Luke 17:13b ESV)
The Healer had come to town. His reputation preceding Him. The crowds, no doubt, following Him. And these ten, with whatever feeble faith they had, together, as Jew and Samaritan, put off their separated anonymity, and with voices lifted up cast the spotlight on themselves as they pleaded for Messiah’s mercy.
When He saw them He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” (Luke 17:14a ESV)
That was it. No big production. No “abracadabra!” Just go and let the priests declare you clean. And they went. All of them–including the Samaritan who wasn’t sure if a good Jewish priest would even receive him.
But they had all believed enough to go to Jesus. And they would all believe enough to obey Jesus. And so they went, all of them, though nothing had yet changed. And, records the Scriptures, “As they went they were cleansed” (14b).
They believed. They obeyed. They were healed. What more could you want?
Evidently, their gratitude.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:15-18 ESV)
Don’t know what the nine were thinking. At best, they were so caught up with their new, unblemished skin that they couldn’t wait to be certified clean by the priests and get on with life and so, simply forgot to say, “Thank You!” At worst, they were patting themselves on their own backs for their boldness in taking advantage of the Healer’s presence and stepping forward in faith and could only think to themselves, “We did it!!!” They were on their way to being certified clean, now they’d take it from here. Having left the Healer’s presence, Jesus was outta sight, outta mind.
But one, the Samaritan, returned to worship. He assumed the posture of worship–facedown. He found the place of worship–the feet of Jesus. And he offered the product of worship–praise to God.
Just as he had lifted his voice with his cohort pleading for mercy, now alone with a loud voice he proclaimed the glory of God. And to him Jesus said,
“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 15:19 ESV)
Faith and obedience resulting in worship was the indicator that not only had his body been healed, but that his soul had been delivered. That not only was he no longer physically leprous, but he was also no longer spiritually blind. That not only had his skin been restored, but his heart renewed.
Worship, it seems to me, is the fruit of salvation. Giving God glory is the supernatural outcome of having been touched by God’s grace. True healing manifests in heartfelt praise.
Oh, that I might ever stand with the Samaritan. Finding myself frequently at the feet of Jesus giving Him thanks. Might I be kept from a heart that receives the miracle of being made whole without the irrepressible desire to return often to praise the miracle Giver.
Because of His grace. Only for His glory.