“Now, what do you say?” I am quite positive that, as long as the English language has been spoken, parents have asked that question of their children. I know I do. Everyone knows the answer that all parents anticipate receiving when asking this question. And everyone knows that parents ask the question when the child has failed to give that anticipated answer in a timely enough fashion.
In our nation, this Thursday is a day of Thanksgiving. On this day we remember that our Heavenly Father loves us as His children. As His children, we also know that our Father often needs to prime us with the question, “What do you say?” You and I, like all children, grow accustomed to the things we enjoy. If we are careless, we allow ourselves to forget that the things we enjoy are blessings straight from God.
Perhaps you can relate to the sense of disappointment when one to whom you have been kind does not show proper appreciation. Parents can. Children can. Teachers can. Students can. Wives can. Husbands can. Jesus can!
A group of ten men, who suffered with leprosy, included at least one Samaritan. Why were the hostile groups together? One word . . .leprosy. Leprosy was the misery that acquainted Jew and Samaritan. Men whose skin conditions cause their communities to consider them unclean, who, while healthy, would not walk on the same side of the street, now found themselves together isolated from the “clean” people.
Jesus walked near this troubled bunch and in unison they called out to the Lord to have pity. What they knew of Jesus, we do not know; but we do know that they had heard of His healing power. They wanted to rejoin society. They wanted healthy skin. Jesus told them to go to the priests in the synagogue. He sent them there so that the priest would see their healed flesh and he would ceremonially welcome them back into the community as “clean” men. Luke tells us that the healing took place “as they went.” They were healed on the way to the priest. Jesus gets the credit for their restoration.
Imagine the scene with me. Ten lepers head for the synagogue and as they walk, they see the white infectious spots disappear from their arms, legs, and hands and they feel the itching cease. Their once ugly epidermis transforms into a radiant complexion. (I remember wishing for something like that to happen to me as I fought pimples!) At this point in the story, we realize the priorities of the ten. Ninety percent of the group kept walking toward the priest. Their priority was to be reestablished into society. When they heard “What do you say?” they did not answer.
They just took the gift for granted and ran back into society. And I imagine that they returned to a life of hating the opposing culture. If misery acquaints strange bedfellows, relief estranges fellows. If the text followed the lives of the Ungrateful Nine, I believe that history would record how they laughed at their former fellow strugglers. We would read about one of the ungrateful turning in disgust as he passed a group of lepers who called out “remember us?” He denied that he ever had such an ailment.
I said that 90% kept walking because their priority was restoration into culture. What about the 10%? Well, in this case that minority numbered one. One leper-turned-clean man saw his restored skin and turned around. His priority was gratitude. He knew that what Jesus gave Him was no small gift to be misused. He not only returned, he praised God; and he not only praised God, he praised God with a loud voice! The Grateful One praised the Great One for restoring him to life.
All ten men received new skin, but only one received a new soul.
John 3:16 tells us that God sent His Son for the whole world – the whole world! With that in mind, what percentage of this whole world has loved Him in return? Sadly, just as in the case of the great majority of the lepers, the great majority of this world never returns God’s love. Can you see it? Jesus dies on the cross and rises from the dead and ascends into heaven. There the Father, Son, and Spirit wait for the world’s response. If you listen carefully, you just might be able to hear the Trinity asking, “Now, what do you say?”
Jesus was grieved when the Ungrateful Nine took His gift and ran. Do not grieve the Lord by repeating their pattern. I invite you to join with me in saying “Thank you” to the Almighty Triune God. Jesus loves you. Now, what will you say?