After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1 NKJV
Most of us struggle to realize that God Himself is our reward. We long for the things we believe He can give us. After all, we have desperate needs. But we often keep God at a distance.
Ten lepers met Jesus in a village as He journeyed between Samaria and Galilee. Luke 17:12 tells us they stood at a distance as they cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (verse 13). Jesus responded with an unusual request.
When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. (verse 14)
Place yourself in the scene, dear one. Ten lepers—outcasts because of their condition—had heard about a healer from Nazareth. Hope stirred their weary hearts. Maybe—just maybe—He could fix their problem. If He did what the stories promised He could, their lives would change forever. Healing meant they could reenter society. They’d return to their families.
They would live again.
They weren’t disappointed. Jesus answered their hope with direction. He told them to show themselves to the priests.
That might seem an odd request to you and me, but according to Old Testament Law, lepers could only return to living among their people if the priest declared them clean. By sending the lepers to present themselves to the priest, Jesus had declared their healing.
But I’d like you to notice something. He sent them away before they were healed.
When those ten men departed from Jesus, their skin still oozed from open sores.
And as they went they were cleansed. (verse 14)
Can you even imagine how they must have felt? Still bearing the marks of their defiled condition, they departed from Jesus in obedient faith. With each step toward the priests, they left behind their sickness and moved toward healing. By the time they reached them, they were completely cleansed.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (verses 15-19)
My heart stirs with the same question Jesus asked that day. Where are the other nine?
Jesus drastically changed the lives of ten men that day, yet only one of them thanked Him. Only one returned to look upon his Savior. Only one fell on his face at Jesus’ feet.
And only one will rise in glory when Christ returns. “… your faith has made you well.”
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4
Beloved, nine received an external cleansing and were satisfied. Only one believed Jesus worthy of honor for restoring his body, and he received the greater work. Jesus also healed him on the inside.
You see, his position had changed. This Samaritan started out just like all the other lepers. They all stood at a distance (verse 12), crying out to Jesus in desperate physical need. But even after Jesus healed them, the other nine remained there.
Nine had no desire for Jesus’ presence. They just wanted His blessing. They didn’t want Him. So they received their healing and went on their way as though they’d never met Him.
But one couldn’t stay away. With praise on his lips, he immediately turned toward the One who had healed his body. And he offered himself. He fell on his face before Him, close enough to touch His feet. Distance no longer defined his relationship to the Healer. And that made him more than well. It made him whole.
Have you come close to Jesus, dear one? Do you seek His presence? Or do you seek His hand?
Most of us seek God for external works. We want Him to heal our finances, our marriages, our bodies. But we don’t really want Him. We aren’t willing to fall on our faces. We just want to take from His hands and get on with living our lives.
We want what He can do, but we don’t desire Him.
Jesus is the reward, dear one. He’s the treasure. Seek Him as one, beloved, and you’ll experience what the leper did. He will make you well.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46