11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
We can read this passage as a continuation on the theme of Kingdom Lifestyle. The issue raised here is not about healing. All ten lepers were healed, out of Jesus' mercy. And there is no indication that the healing was taken away.
While the passage does not highlight healing per se, the passage does highlight one's response to healing. As we read, only one out of ten lepers thanks God and Jesus for the healing. Presumably the other nine went their merry way without giving thanks. The one who gave thanks, it is noted by Luke, was a Samaritan (someone customarily hated by Jews). The one least expected to give thanks to God and Jesus is the very one who actually gives thanks.
And for giving thanks, this foreigner is commended by Jesus.
Why is giving thanks worthy of note in this passage? We can say that it's a matter of good manners. Good etiquette. When someone does us some good, we should say thank you to that person, acknowledging our gratitude and appreciation. Doing good is usually not obligatory. It's usually an optional thing. The person could have easily chosen not to do the good. But the person, in some particular case, chose to do good voluntarily. Such non-obligatory action for our benefit draws out our thankfulness, naturally so because we know that it could have been otherwise.
So it is a matter of good etiquette, giving thanks to someone for doing us good. But good etiquette sounds too superficial to many of us. In truth, however, good etiquette is an outward form or manifestation of certain values we esteem: people ought to be honored, people ought to be appreciated, I am not entitled, I recognize someone's kindness, gifts are freely given, and so forth.
Giving thanks to God is the same. It is good manners. It is good etiquette. It displays certain values we esteem. But it also reveals whether "we get it or not." Giving thanks is a kind of seeing actions well. You may call it seeing things morally well. Seeing obligation, free action, kindness, generosity, sacrifice, and the list can go on. When we see actions and people with moral clarity, the automatic response to others' generosity, graciousness, and gifts is giving thanks. It is attributing worth to someone's good and kind act.
Attributing worth to God is called Worship. Giving thanks to God is an expression of worship. When worship is denied, we have failed to see with clarity and we have failed to express our thanks.
Let's pray: Father God, help us to see with moral clarity your kind actions on our behalf. Your kindness and generosity are all around us. Friends, family, finance, shelter, salvation, Holy Spirit, prayer, music, food, health, education, children, church, Bible, vacation, vocation, and your constant grace remind us daily that we are recipients of your goodness. For such things and your generous, loving heart, we say Thank You. In Jesus' name, amen.