Saturday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 17:11-19

It Was the Foreigner Who Praised God

As odd as it may sound, sometimes unbelievers and pagans outdo followers of Christ in rendering praise to God.  I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us; after all, the seas roar, the rivers clap their hands, and the hills sing for joy before the Lord (Psalm 98:7-9).  God has created man in His own image, so that even those who hate Him must acknowledge Him when they pause and think on eternal matters, which such rational beings must do from time to time, even if through darkened minds. But still, it shouldn’t be this way.

Today’s passage records the healing of ten lepers.  We know the plight of these poor creatures in ancient times: segregated to live by themselves, pelted with rocks, and thought to be cursed by God; theirs was truly a miserable life.  And so these ten call out to Jesus from afar.  Unlike a previous leper who took courage to approach Jesus (5:12-14), these keep their distance.  Perhaps they did so out of humility or respect; maybe they didn’t really know how Jesus would respond to them, living with nothing but contempt all of their lives.  Or maybe their disfigurement made them ashamed and unwilling to let anyone see them.  If so, Jesus respects their dignity.  They asked that Jesus would have mercy on them.  I know of no place in the Bible where someone asks God for mercy out of a desperate and sincere heart that God did not answer.  Jesus responds, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  This was what a leper was supposed to do to show that he had been “cleansed” (Leviticus 14:1-9).  In other words, Jesus pronounced that they would be healed; in response, they were to act on faith by obeying his words to go and see the priests to prove it.  So they went away, and as they were going, they were cleansed, as Jesus said.

Then something unexpected happens.  Upon seeing that he had been healed, one of them turned back, praising God (loudly), and fell at Jesus’ feet giving thanks.  One!  It’s impossible to know what the other nine were thinking, but Jesus’ words are convicting: “Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Jesus calls him a foreigner because he was a Samaritan.  But where were the other nine?  Maybe they were so excited they wanted to get to the priest as soon as possible.  Maybe they were so overcome with joy they forgot.  Who can tell?  But it’s still shaming.  We must never let “foreigners” (in this case, unbelievers) outdo us in rendering praise to God.  This is especially the job of believers in worship and prayer every day.  Life is full of joys and sorrows, but we must never forget to render praise to God.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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