The Tenth Leper

Luke 1712 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,16 And fell down on his face at his feet, givinLuke 17
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

What does it mean to be “made whole,” and how is it different from being cleansed? Is it just the spiritual equivalent of being cleansed? It required considerable faith for the ten lepers to be healed of leprosy… does that mean that being made whole requires even greater faith? And how does this apply to my life?

If Christ came to me today, and offered to take away all of my physical trials, I’d be like one of the ten lepers – calling to Him from afar off and asking for His intervention on my behalf. If He healed me, I’m sure I’d be grateful, as the other 9 lepers most definitely were. What made the tenth leper so different? Was it just that He returned to give thanks? Is gratitude such a big part of repentance that our becoming whole is contingent on our ability to give thanks and give the glory to God? And if the true meaning of the parable is the importance of being whole – not simply cleansed – what does that mean to me?

Those are the questions going through my mind as I read this account. I think Christ was trying to illustrate the importance of striving to become whole – spiritually whole – instead of simply asking for relief from the difficulties of life… focusing on the spiritual aspects of imperfection in mortality. And I think that here He shares an interesting message – how key gratitude is in being saved. Being “whole” is often similar in root to being “perfect” – complete, unspotted, righteous in every way. The woman with an issue of blood was declared whole after she put her faith in Christ, as was the tenth leper, and the man who received his sight. All of them did something more than just have the faith to receive physical miracles in their behalf; they had the faith to receive unseen spiritual miracles that far surpassed what could be seen on the surface.

I think that’s the miracle that I should always be praying for – not to be freed from trials or tribulations, but the miracle of being able to live and keep the commandments in any situation. Being willing to date, and learning to enjoy it, even though I’m not attracted to women. Coping with attraction to guys and finding ways to ensure the positive side of interactions with them. And being willing to live life and keep moving forward no matter what happens – even if I spend the rest of life alone – and learning to be happy in those circumstances.

I used to think that happiness came as a byproduct of completing a given set of to-do’s, among which were finding an eternal companion, having a family, etc… Now I realize that happiness isn’t something that comes at the end of mortality or even after I have weathered my trials. It is available today, and tomorrow, and the next day. And I don’t have to downgrade my morals to find it. It’s available through God.

I obviously can’t really talk about what went through their minds without it being conjecture, but I think that’s what made the tenth leper different. I think that, if he hadn’t been healed, he would have continued to believe in Christ and praise God – and maybe that is what made the difference. He had already found happiness in doing what was right within his ability, and the outward miracle of healing was just that – an outward manifestation to match a greater inward change… and Christ’s miracle was an opportunity to invite me, and all those present, to exercise the same faith to be made whole.

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