The story of how Jesus heals 10 lepers is about saying “thank you.”
But it’s also a story about seeing.
I love Jesus’ rhetorical questions after the Samaritan leper comes back to thank him for the miracle. “Didn’t I clean 10 of you? What happened to those other 9?” I think Jesus asks those questions so that we’ll notice what the 9 failed to do. We don’t want to be like them. We want to be like the one. We want to thank Jesus.
So, clearly, this is a story about saying “thank you.”
But behind that “thank you” is the ability to see – to really see.
Jesus decides to cleanse the lepers “when he saw them” (17:14). This is noteworthy because it’s possible to see people who are in need and not *really* see them. I sometimes felt this danger with the homeless men and women when I lived in Charlotte. If I wasn’t careful, I could see them without seeing them as children of God, see them without feeling moved to help. Jesus does not make that mistake. He sees the lepers – really sees them – and acts to clean them.
The Samaritan turns back to thank Jesus “when he saw that he was healed” (17:15). Presumably, the other 9 also saw that they were healed. The one saw himself in a different way. He saw not only his cleanness but also the source of his cleansing. He *really* saw.
If we want to be like the Samaritan we need to train ourselves to really see what God is doing each day. It’s wonderful to acknowledge the positive things in life, but if we stop there we are acting like the 9. To be like the one we need to see both the good and the Source of the good.
Thanksgiving is a great time to get in practice. At whatever meal you eat on Thursday, pause and name what you are thankful for. Whether you think of 100 things or just 1, acknowledge the Source by telling God, “Thank you.”
And when you say your thanks, may you see – really see – the good God has done for you.