Your Daily Lenten Devotional
March 20, 2015


Where Are the Other Nine?

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:11-19 NRSV)

In today's Scripture, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, where he knew that a cross awaited him. Yet, even as he drew near to his own suffering, he was mindful of the suffering of others. Perhaps it was this awareness that kept him from being overwhelmed by his approaching fate.

As Jesus entered a village, ten lepers approached him. The lepers were both Jew and Samaritan, bound together by their common affliction. Leprosy (which included a variety of skin disorders) was the most socially isolating disease of ancient times. Fear of contracting the disease kept people away from lepers.

Lepers were the untouchables of Jesus' day. The Law of Moses required them to keep their distance from others and to declare, "Unclean!" when others approached (Leviticus 13:45). Seeing the ten lepers and knowing the isolation they experienced, Jesus showed them mercy, telling them to go to the priests, as the Law of Moses commanded, and they would be made whole. (The story is reminiscent of the story about the healing of Naaman, in 2 Kings 5.)

To visit the priests, the lepers had to make a seven- or eight-day trek to Jerusalem. Just as they set out, the lepers discovered that they were healed. This, it seems, was because they had demonstrated a measure of trust in Jesus' words. However, only one of the ten returned to him to give thanks, and this was the primary point of the story. The leper was a Samaritan, an outsider, who came back to thank the Lord.

Expressing thanks is important, and yet often we fail to do it. Worship on Sundays is about pausing to count our blessings and give thanks to God. Daily prayer is an opportunity to pause and to give thanks. Cultivate the practice of giving thanks, and you will find a greater sense of well being in life. That's what researchers Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons learned in their well-known study on gratitude. They found that people who regularly give thanks are as much as 25 percent happier than people who do not.

John gave thanks. He suffered from a blood disorder that meant having regular transfusions, as well as a host of unpleasant symptoms. Every time I saw him, however, he would tell me he was blessed and was grateful for every day of his life. John lived far longer than the doctors had expected, and I am convinced it was because he sincerely and persistently gave thanks.

Ten lepers were healed, but only one returned to give thanks. Which leper are you?

Lord, thank you for the blessings in my life. I specifically want to thank you today for.... (Name five things you are grateful for today.)


Excerpted from:

The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus - 40 Days of ReflectionThe Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus - 40 Days of Reflection
Adam Hamilton
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Here are 40 days of devotions on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, enabling us to pause, meditate, and emerge changed forever. Based on Adam Hamilton's inspiring book, The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus, the devotions include Scripture, reflection, stories from Hamilton's own ministry, and prayer.

Reprinted from The Way: 40 Days of Reflection by Adam Hamilton. Copyright 2012. Used by permission from Abingdon Press.


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