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Ten Lepers by James Christensen, Click here to see more.
As a child, our family read the Christmas story each year on Christmas Eve. I must admit that Jesus seemed more like a speed bump on the way to the presents than the reason for the celebration. I have tried to find ways to change this for my own children, but fear that the gifts under the tree take center stage to the gift from heaven.
This year as I struggled to find ways to make Christ the center of our celebration, I came across a story that changed my perspective on the Christmas season – the story of the ten lepers.
As the Savior was walking through Galilee he was met be met ten lepers. I understood that leprosy was dreaded disease often called the “living death.” To prevent the spread of the disease, lepers were driven out and forced to live alone (Lev. 13).
I pictured the ten lepers separated for years from their family and friends with no one to hold or love them. I saw them almost without hope waiting to die until the day when into that dark place came a light. When they saw the Savior, “…they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” (Luke 17:13)
Only the priest could declare the lepers clean and allow them to rejoin their families (Lev. 14). Jesus was asking them to have faith even before they were healed and it wasn’t until they acted in faith that the healing came. “And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14)
At this miraculous moment of healing, “…one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”
Perhaps the others did not come back because they were afraid that if they stopped in their journey the healing might stop as well. Or perhaps, they intended to come back after they had seen the priest. Sometimes we are guilty of putting off gratitude only to find that the moment has passed forever.
At last the Lord looked down on the lone leper and said, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19)
It seems to me that nine men were cured that day, but only one was healed.
In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season I pray we take the time to stop and be grateful. That we will recognize the gifts we already enjoy as we shop for presents. And that we will feel the touch of the Savior in our lives as we return to Him and give thanks.