And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the middle of Samaria and Galilee.…
1. The first thing I would have you notice is, that the ten were at first undistinguishable in their misery. That there were differences of character among them we know; that there were differences of race, of education, and training, we know too, for one at least was a Samaritan, and under no other circumstances, perhaps, would his companions have had any dealings with him; but all their differences were obliterated, their natural antipathies were lost, beneath the common pressure of their frightful misery — their very voices were blended in one urgent cry, "Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us." "One touch of nature," says the great poet, "makes the whole world kin": true, and alas I never so true as when that touch of nature is the sense of guilt. This is the great leveller, not only of the highest and lowest, but of the best and worst, effacing all distinctions, even of moral character; for, when one attempts to weigh one's sin and count it up, it seems impossible to establish degrees in one's own favour — one feels as if there were a dreadful equality of guilt for all, and one was no better than another.
2. I would have you notice, in the second place, the apparent tameness of their cure. Our Lord neither lays His finger on them, nor holds any conference, but, merely tells them to go and show themselves to the priests, according to the letter of that now antiquated and perishing law of Moses. Never was so great a cure worked in so tame a fashion since the time of Naaman the Syrian; well for them that they had a humbler spirit and a more confiding faith than he, or they, too, would, have gone away in a rage and been never the better. Now, I think we may see in this a striking parable of how our Lord evermore deals with penitent sinners. He does not, as a rule, make any wonderful revelation of Himself to the soul which He heals; there is no dramatic "scene" which can be reported to others. There is, indeed, often something very commonplace, and therefore disappointing, about His dealings with penitents. He remits them to their religious duties — to those things which men account as outward and formal, and therefore feeble, which have indeed no power at all in themselves to heal the leprosy of sin, such as the means of grace, the ministry of reconciliation. In these things there is no excitement; they do not carry away the soul with a rush of enthusiasm, or fill it with a trembling awe.
3. And, in the third place, I would have you notice the unexpected way in which He addressed the one who came back to express his heartfelt gratitude." "Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole." Now, it is obvious that these words were just as applicable to the other nine as to him, for they, too, had been made whole, and made whole by faith; all had believed, all had started off obediently to show themselves to the priests, and all alike had been cleansed through faith as they went. Does it not seem strange that He took no notice of the gratitude which was peculiar to the one to whom He spake, and only made mention of the faith which was common to them all? Did He not do it advisedly? Did He not intend us to learn a lesson thereby? We know that this story sets forth as a parable our own conduct as redeemed and pardoned sinners. We know that the great bulk of Christians are ungrateful; that they are far more concerned in lamenting the petty losses and securing the petty gains of life, than in showing their thankfulness to God for His inestimable love. What about them? Will unthankful Christians also receive the salvation of their souls? I suppose so. I think this story teaches us so, and I think our Lord's words to the one that returned are meant to enforce that teaching. All were cleansed, though only one gave glory to God; even so we are all made whole by faith, though scarcely one in ten shows any gratitude for it. The ingratitude of Christian people may indeed mar very grievously the work of grace, but it cannot undo it. "Thy faith hath made thee whole" is the common formula which includes all the saved, although amongst them be found differences so striking, and deficiencies so painful. There are that use religion itself selfishly, thinking only of the personal advantage it will be to themselves, and of the pleasure it brings within their reach. But these are certainly not the happiest. Vexed with every trifle, worried about every difficulty, entangled with a thousand uncertainties, if all things go well they just acquiesce in it, as if they had a right to expect it; if things go wrong they begin at once to complain, as though they were ill-used; if they become worse, then they are miserable, as though all cause for rejoicing were gone. Now, I need not remind you how fearfully such a temper dishonours God. When He has freely given us an eternal inheritance of joy, a kingdom which cannot be shaken, an immortality beyond the reach of sin or suffering, it is simply monstrous that we should murmur at the shadows of sorrow which fleck our sea of blessing, it should seem simply incredible that we do not continually pour out our very souls in thanksgiving unto Him that loved us and gave Himself for us. But I will say this, that our ingratitude is the secret of our little happiness in this life. Our redeemed lives were meant to be like that summer sea when it dances and sparkles beneath the glorious sun instead of which they are like a sullen, muddy pool upon a cloudy day, which gives back nothing but the changing hues of gloom. It is not outward circumstance, it is the presence or absence of a thankful spirit which makes all the difference to our lives. Gratitude to God is the sunshine of our souls, with which the tamest scene is bright and the wildest beautiful, without which the fairest landscape is but sombre.
(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.