Where Are The Nine?

4 January 2011

"And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" -Luke 17:17
With the coming of the New Year we are thankful for our Lord's kindness to us. We have many things to be thankful for: a country where we can worship God unhindered by a tyrannical government; homes; food; family; freedom; and a church where we can meet with those of like precious faith, sing songs, and learn from God's word. On the first Sunday of this year I was compelled to speak on the subject of not only being thankful, but more specific, the giving of thanks to the Lord for His kindness to us. So, I spoke from Luke 17:17 where our Lord healed ten lepers, and asked the question: "Where are the nine?"

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Where are the Nine

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Now, we all know that there is a difference between being thankful, and giving thanks. Though God is omniscient, though He knows the thoughts and intents of our heart, He also is well pleased with the fruit of our lips, when we take the time to properly give Him thanks for all He has done for us. No matter how dark our day may be, we always have much to be thankful for, things we may have taken for granted like our eyes, our ears, our fingers, our toes, and the very breath in our nostrils. His mercies are new every morning.

If you will read Luke 17:15-19, you will find a notable miracle. Ten lepers had met our Lord with the special request of healing. Jesus commanded them to show themselves to the priest and as they went, their request was granted: they were healed! What joy must have filled their hearts! Their loathsome, rotting flesh, was restored anew, and feeling returned to their dead extremities. No longer would they have to stand afar off, but now they could return to their families and loved ones. They could return to society, to a job, and leave the leper's den. While nine of them sought the priest, one of them, in the midst of his joy, turned back to Jesus, gave thanks, and glorified the Son of God. It was then that Jesus asked, "Where are the nine?"

From His question, it seems as though He was expecting the others as well. Where are they? Did I not heal them? Leprosy is a figure of sin, and the main thrust of this story concerns the thankfulness the elect of God should have in their hearts for the gift of Jesus Christ. Have you personally thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for your sins? Have you personally thanked the Father for giving up His Son for you? But there is even more to our Lord's question. Much can be gleaned from this miracle.

Surely, it is a picture of our depravity. Wrapped up in our depravity is an unthankful heart! It is true. Though the Lord may shower abundant blessings upon us, rather than giving Him thanks as we should, we bombard Him with request after request for more, more, more. What is God going to have to do to finally please us? If He has taken 10,000 thorns out of our flesh, and one remains, rather than thanking Him for the 9,999 that were removed, we find ourselves complaining about the one He left (for our own good). Sheep have a tendency to bleat all the day long, even when nothing is going on.

We are living in the day of statistics. The Gallop poll tells us how everyone feels about everything, from politics, to religion. Notice our Lord's stats: 9 to 1. Only one in ten give thanks as they should to the Lord for His blessings! Surely, this should tell us something about our own heart that we should guard against: don't be in the majority of nine!

There are other statistics that go along with Jesus' words. Consider!

The number of those that pray are far greater than those who give thanks: 9 to 1! Every request to Jesus is a prayer!

There are more who receive benefits than give thanks: 9 to 1!

There are more who believe than give thanks: 9to 1! They all had faith and believed that Jesus could do it.

We learn from our Lord's words that the giving of thanks is our way of giving God glory. It is a way of praising God! This can be done in our closets.

I also find a sweet truth in our Lord's expression, "the nine'. Not, "where are nine". Jesus is not interested in numbers. But He is interested in those He blesses.

The lesson may also be found as an encouragement to the "one". Do not be surprised or discouraged if there are nine missing at the communion table; on Sunday morning; at the altar of giving; at the song service; at the Baptismal pool; and at our special meetings. Yet know that Jesus is still asking the question: "Where are the nine?"