Luke’s gospel records a time when Jesus was approached by ten lepers who asked him to have mercy on them. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests. As they left to do so, their leprosy was cleansed. But Luke writes that only one of them returned to give Jesus thanks and glorify God. Hence Jesus’ question, “Were there not ten?” (Luke 17:11-19).
Why did it matter to Jesus what these men thought about what he did for them? What tangible benefit would their gratitude have provided him? It would not make him richer, stronger or smarter.
Come to think of it, what do any of us have to offer God, from which he could derive some benefit? After all, everything I have and am, he has provided or made possible. What could there be of me that he would possibly want?
In a word, acknowledgment. That’s what God seems to desire from all of us. Remember what Jesus said to the one cleansed leper who thanked him? Jesus told him, “Your faith has made you well”.
It is easy to see that his faith, and really the faith of each of the ten, was in Jesus. Their faith was expressed when they acknowledged him as the one to call on. Then they faithfully acknowledged him again by obeying him and heading for the priests when that’s what he told them to do. Only this one, however, acknowledged him with a sincere show of appreciation after he was made whole.
Sometimes I am the nine. I forget. I am carelessly thoughtless. I fail to return gratitude acknowledging my eternal indebtedness to the one who has made me whole.
But I am trying to be the one.