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  • Alan Salwei

Luke 17:11-19 - Ten Percent

How often do you give thanks for what God has given you?

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Read Luke 17:11-19

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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 86

Q. We have been delivered

from our misery

by God’s grace alone

through Christ

and not because we

have earned it:

why then must we still do good?

A. To be sure, Christ has redeemed us

by his blood.

But we do good because

Christ by his Spirit is also

renewing us

to be like himself,

so that in all our living

we may show that

we are thankful to God

for all he has done for us,

and so that he may be praised through us.

And we do good

so that we may be assured of

our faith by its fruits,

and so that by our godly living

our neighbors may be won over to Christ.



During Jesus’ travels between Samaria and Galilee he came across a group of ten lepers. The lepers mentioned in Luke 17 are individuals who had contracted leprosy, a rash like skin disease. In addition to the medical concerns affiliated with leprosy, according to the ceremonial law, this made one unclean. Included amongst the consequences of being considered unclean under the ceremonial law was being unable to enter God’s sanctuary and not being allowed around other people who were ceremonially clean, including one’s own family members.

For this reason, groups of lepers were known to congregate together, forming a sense of community amongst those who had been cast out of society on account of their skin condition. The rules regarding distancing oneself from those considered ceremonially clean likely explains why the ten lepers yelled toward Jesus instead of approaching him with their request for healing. Fortunately for this group of lepers, the distance between them and Jesus was not an issue, as Jesus offers healing.

The command to “go and show yourselves to the priests” carries the implication that by the time they reach the priests, the lepers would be healed. Among the other duties of a priest, it was also their responsibility to verify that those who had an ailment considered unclean, like leprosy, had indeed been healed before they could be declared ceremonially clean.

Understanding Jesus’ instruction for what it was, each of the ten obeyed and were healed along the way. However, only one returned to Jesus to give his thanks.

Dig Deeper

Kate and I (Pastor Alan) have been married for 13 years, which hopefully makes it safe to admit that my least favorite part of the wedding was writing thank you notes afterwards. Part of my struggle was in trying to avoid having them all sound the same, that and the occasional hand cramp.

Despite our family and friends knowing that we were grateful for them, we still made sure to write out thank you notes because actions matter. This can be seen in the parable of the ten lepers.

While it is likely that all ten lepers felt thankful that Jesus had healed them, only one cared enough to return to Jesus to express his gratitude. Jesus’ rebuke of the other nine shows that he expected more than feelings of gratitude, he expected them to return and express their thankfulness as the Samaritan had done.

When it comes to the grace of Jesus and other blessings bestowed upon us by God, his expectation is likewise more than feelings of gratitude. Our gratitude is meant to lead us to action. The good works that we do in the name of Jesus are not a means of earning God’s favor. Instead, these works are a way for us to express our thankfulness to God for what has already been done on our behalf.

Which of these lepers’ example have you been following - the nine who were healed and went about their lives, or the one, who upon being healed, took action to show his gratitude to Jesus for what he had done for him?

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who takes pity on His children and heals our diseases;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to help you make gratitude the primary motivation in your life;



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 1 Corinthians 5


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