BIBLE TEXT: Luke 17:11-19
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Do you have an “attitude of gratitude?” We need to have thankful hearts for all things – big and small.
BIBLE LESSON: One day, Jesus was traveling through Galilee and Samaria on his way to the city of Jerusalem. Along the way, he encountered ten men outside of a village. These men were extremely glad to see Jesus because they all had a terrible problem – they all had leprosy. Leprosy was a terrible disease. It was so bad and had to be handled so carefully that the Lord had given very special instructions in the law of Moses as to how the priests were to examine people to determine if they had the disease and what to do if they did. Two whole chapters in Leviticus (13 and 14) cover all of these instructions. To read more about what this disease was like, scroll down to the “Did You Know” section of this lesson.
These ten leprous men knew that Jesus was someone who could help them. As soon as they saw him, they cried out to him, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” These men recognized Jesus as someone who had power and authority from God, someone who was actually able to help them in some way. They must have had such hope in their hearts as they called him “Master” and begged for mercy. Mercy is one of the wonderful qualities of God and it means “to show compassion or pity.” Before Jesus came into their lives, these men had to live as outcasts. They had no hope of a cure. Seeing Jesus changed everything!
Read Luke 17:14 to see what Jesus told them to do. Why would he tell them to do such a thing? In Leviticus 14:2, we read, “This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest.” The priest would then examine the person to see if his leprosy was gone. If it was, the person was required to wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water. (Leviticus 14:8) He was declared to be “clean” by the priest, and he would be allowed to live among his family and friends again. So, if these men had leprosy, but Jesus was telling them to go and show themselves to the priest, what did that mean would happen as they went on their way? They were going to be healed! The last part of Luke 17:14 tells us, “And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.”
Can you imagine how excited these men must have felt as they walked along the road to go see the priest and noticed that their skin looked normal again, their arms and legs were healthy and strong, and they felt good again? They might have felt like running the rest of the way! But in their great excitement over being healed, they forgot something very important. They forgot to say “Thank you.” Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever received a really cool present for your birthday or Christmas, and you were so excited about it that you completely forgot to thank the person who gave you such a wonderful gift? It happened to these men too. At least, it happened to nine of these men. One man out of the ten remembered Jesus. He remembered that if it hadn’t been for Jesus, he never would have been healed of his terrible disease. His heart was so full of gratitude for what Jesus had done for him, he immediately returned to Jesus. What did he do when he reached Jesus? Read Luke 17:15-16.
Verse 16 mentions an interesting fact about this one man who returned to thank Jesus. He was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were ancestors of the Jews who had intermarried with people of foreign nations and settled in the region of Samaria. Many of the Jews looked down on them and didn’t like them at all because they weren’t “real Jews” like them. Because of this prejudice by the Jews, the Samaritans did not like the Jews very much either. Jesus was a Jew, but of course, he loved everyone, no matter who they were or where they came from. He loved the Samaritan leper and healed him. This Samaritan didn’t turn up his nose at Jesus because he was a Jew, or refuse to thank him because he was a Jew. No! He fell at Jesus’ feet, thanking him over and over and glorifying God for his healing.
In Luke 17:17-18, Jesus asked the Samaritan three questions. Read the verses to find out what questions he asked. Jesus was glad to heal these ten men and did not demand thanks, but he sadly wondered why only one remembered to show gratitude for such a great gift and give glory to God for it. Ephesians 5:20 and I Thessalonians 5:18 both remind us to be thankful to God for everything. An attitude of gratitude needs to become a natural part of our daily lives.
In the last verse of our text, Jesus points out to the man the key ingredient in his healing. Read Luke 17:19. If this man and the other nine had not had faith, do you think they would have been healed? Faith is believing in God and believing that He is able to do what He says He will do. (Hebrews 11:6) These ten lepers had faith in Jesus Christ. They believed in who he was and what he could do. When they cried out to him for help, he answered them by giving them the great gift of healing from their terrible disease. Sadly, only one remembered to be thankful and to take the time to praise Jesus and give glory to God. Let’s remember to be like the one thankful leper and give praise and glory to God for every good thing he gives us and does for us each day.
- How many lepers did Jesus encounter on his way to Jerusalem?
- What did the lepers cry out to Jesus?
- What did Jesus tell the lepers to do?
- How many lepers returned to thank Jesus for healing?
- What did Jesus say had made the leper well?
- Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
- I Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NKJV)
WORD OF THE WEEK: Greek word – eucharistia (yoo-khar-is-tee’-ah) εὐχαριστία
Eucharistia means thankfulness, gratitude, giving of thanks, thanksgiving
This is the word used for our English words “give thanks” in I Thessalonians 5:18.
*Hebrew was the original language of the Old Testament. Greek was the original language of the New Testament.
DID YOU KNOW? In Bible times, leprosy was a disease of the nervous system which was dreaded for a number of reasons. First, it was highly contagious. Second, it required one to live separately from all healthy people so it was a sad, lonely life. Third, it had terrible symptoms such as a collapsed nose, curled up fingers (claw hand), twisting and disfigurement of limbs and bones, and tumor-like growths on the skin. The damage to the nervous system would eliminate the sensation of pain so many extremely harmful injuries occurred such as burning one’s hand badly. This helps us to understand why those who were healed of this disease would have been (or should have been) so very grateful.
- Thank You cards – Think of people that you can express gratitude to through a homemade thank you card. Try thinking of people in your life who help you, teach you, or do nice things for you, and yet it is easy to forget to thank them for those things. Here are some suggestions to get you started: Bible class teachers, mom and dad, grandparents, neighbors, librarian, mailman, preachers, people who work at your local grocery store, brothers and sisters.
- One Thankful Leper Crossword Puzzle – Click the link for a free printable crossword puzzle to review this lesson. (Answer key: One Thankful Leper Crossword Puzzle Answers)
- “Attitude of Gratitude” experiment – When my family returned from a mission trip in Honduras, we were very thankful for many things we hadn’t thought much about before such as clean drinking water. Try this experiment: Live for 1 week (or 1 day) as if you were living in another country like Honduras. What would your life be like? For the day (or for one week), turn off the air conditioning and all lights and electronics. Only drink water from bottles. Brush your teeth with bottled water, no tap water because it could make you sick. Take a cold shower and be careful that no tap water enters your mouth. Walk or ride a bicycle everywhere you need to go. Don’t flush any toilet paper down the toilet because the sewer systems can’t handle it. Eat tortillas with egg and refried beans for breakfast – every day. Don’t eat any salads or raw vegetables because they could make you sick. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, then split it in half and share it with another member of your family since food is scarce. Hand wash your clothes and hang them on a line to dry. Sleep in a hammock or pallets on the ground. After a day or week of living like this, write down and share your thoughts about how it affected you. Are you more aware of things to be thankful for?
- Leprosy scratch-off craft – This link takes you to free printable craft with instructions. You can print out and color a Bible character, paint leprosy spots on him, then scratch them off. Great story-telling prop and fun to do!
- Jesus heals 10 lepers coloring page – Free printable coloring page of Jesus healing the 10 lepers. (Supercoloring.com)
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