The Ten Lepers – A Lesson in Thankfulness

The Ten Lepers - A Lesson in Thankfulness

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 

Luke 17:17-18 NIV.

You can read the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus was on his final journey to Jerusalem. He passed along the border between Samaria and Galilee, and as he entered a particular village, ten lepers met him. Standing at a distance, they cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Verse 13).

Leprosy in biblical times covered numerous infectious skin diseases (Leviticus 13). Anyone with a virulent skin condition was deemed unclean by the priests and, by law, was banished from society (Numbers 5:2). These ten lepers most likely formed their own little community outside the village.

Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. While on the way, the men were cleansed of their leprosy. The priests needed to declare a leprous person clean before they could return to regular society.

One of the Ten Lepers was a Samaritan

One of the ten lepers, a Samaritan, seeing that he was healed, turned back and threw himself at Jesus’ feet, praising and thanking Him (Verses 15-16). The fact that the man was a Samaritan bear some significance.

The Jews and Samaritans have a long history. They hated each other. You can read what caused the animosity in 2 Kings 17, Ezra 4:1-10, and Ezra 10:18-44. Apart from being a mixed race, the Samaritans built a temple on Mount Gerizim, which became their primary place of worship, condemning the temple at Jerusalem. Along with that, the Samaritans only recognized the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) as authoritative and disregarded the other Hebrew texts.

For this reason, it seemed unlikely the Samaritan would return to praise and thank Jesus, a Jew. You’d think the other nine lepers, who were most likely Jewish, would be the first to run and fall at Jesus’ feet. But they didn’t. Jesus called their behaviour out for what it was – ingratitude.

Many scriptures highlight the importance of thankfulness. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Notice, that it is God’s will for believers to be thankful.

God Hates Ingratitude

God hates ingratitude. Repeatedly the Israelites displayed ingratitude to God for his blessings. They even gave credit to pagan gods for their prosperity which God likens to an adulterous wife (Hosea 2:8; 4:12). When the other nine lepers did not return to glorify God, Jesus again exposed the ingratitude levelled against God by His people.

As Christians, we must give thanks to God. Thankfulness yields blessings, like when Jesus prayed and gave thanks over the five loaves and two fish that fed 5,000 people with leftovers. (Matthew 14:19).

There are many ways to express thankfulness to God. Prayer (I Timothy 2:1), generosity (2 Corinthians 9:11-12), and worship (Ephesians 5:19-20) are just a few examples.

I think keeping a gratitude journal is another excellent way of conveying thankfulness. A gratitude journal is a way of keeping track of all your blessings so you’ll never forget what the Lord has done for you.

Reflect and Respond

What are some ways you can convey thankfulness for God’s blessings in your life? Journal your thoughts.


Lord, thank you for all your blessings. Thank you for good health and a loving family. Thank you for being my source of strength, and thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Feature Image by Image by Jackson David from Pixabay

Recommended Reading

10 Things I Learned While Waiting On God by Sharla Hallett

10 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day With Kids At Home by Amy Cobb

Never Travel Without These Ten Things by Jessica Weaver

10 Ways to Turn Things Around by Ashley Olivine

When Emotional or Mental Pain Is a 10 by Dianne Vielhuber

Used with permission from Lisa Marcelina Granger.

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