How many times have we read and thought about the leper that returned to Jesus to say thank you when nine kept going? Many, many.
But today, with prayers and thoughts in my head about ministry, opportunities, and the future, I saw this one leper differently. "And he was a Samaritan." (Luke 17:16).
This one did not belong at the temple. It was not his custom. He did not follow Jewish temple etiquette. It was not his place of worship; his home; his people. The priest had little value. But Jesus...
"Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to him. And he was a Samaritan." (Luke 17:15-16)
How often am I distracted by the approval of others, by what I have been prevented from having or doing--and when the opportunity presents itself, Christ is forgotten? How often do I get caught up in the victory, forgetting the Victor? How often do I seek affirmation of cleansing without acknowledging the Cleanser? How often do I seek to go to the temple seeing only what is ahead and missing Jesus here; Jesus now?
Today this man reminded me to turn and thank Jesus before seeking the affirmation of others; to seek Jesus before heading into the crowds, before getting on with my life, before jumping into ministry, before moving forward. Others will benefit from my praise and healing, but Jesus deserves it first. Jesus should hear it most. Jesus is the only worthy recipient of the first fruits of praise and worship.
But weren't they told to go? Isn't that what Jesus commanded? "When He saw them, He said to them, 'God and show yourselves to the priests.'" (Luke 11:14) Yes. They obeyed and as they went, they were cleansed. But this one turned back.
My prayer today is that I am not so set on obedience that I miss Jesus. Not so determined to pursue opportunity and God's call on my life that I forget to express my gratitude; not to busy to set aside my "to do" list and worship.