How to Be One in a Million

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You can stand out from the crowd and Jesus is the answer to being one in a million!

We all want to stand out, to be different, to separate ourselves from the pack. Maybe we do it with a funky haircut or by listening to an indie band no one else has ever heard of, but the Bible gives us an even better way to stand out from the crowd.

Check out this story from Luke 17:11–16. (Psst . . . don’t race through it. It’s only six little verses. Take your time.)

On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers.

Let’s hit pause right there. How many lepers were there? Ten. That’s right! Think about your nine closest friends or nine members of your family. Then imagine yourself as the tenth member of that group. Hold that thought! Let’s get back to the story.

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

Let’s zoom in on the ten lepers for a moment. These guys were sick. They had a contagious, bacterial infection called leprosy. Maybe you’ve heard that leprosy can make fingers and toes fall right off. According to my favorite doctor (WebMD) that’s not true, but they can go numb. Yuck! Leprosy is also a bit of a sleeper. It’s possible to have it for five, ten, or twenty years and not know it, but without treatment it can be fatal. In Jesus’ day leprosy was thought to be highly contagious. Lepers weren’t allowed to be near other people. That’s why these ten guys shouted at Jesus from a distance.

But Jesus showed them compassion. With a word He healed all ten and sent them back to restored, redeemed lives.

If you’d been separated from your life by disease for years, I imagine you’d be in a hurry to see your favorite friend, sit in your favorite chair, or eat your favorite food again. These guys must have been, because they raced away from Jesus without looking back.

Except for one.

Remember this guy?

Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks (vv. 15–16).

Ten were healed. Only one returned.

I’m sure he wanted to race back to normal life just as badly as his friends did, but gratitude compelled him to go to Jesus first. He was so thankful for what Jesus had saved Him from, he fell on his newly healed face and worshiped.

We Are the Ten Lepers

Remember when I asked you to imagine yourself as one in a group of ten? Because of our families, our schools, and our friend groups, all of us are part of a pack, just like the ten lepers in this story. The similarities don’t stop there.

  • We’re sick, too, but our illness is sin and no one is immune ( 3:23).
  • It’s possible for us to live years or decades (or even a lifetime) without recognizing or acknowledging our sin.
  • Our sickness makes our hearts numb (Mark 6:52).
  • It also separates us from God, just like the lepers were separated from Jesus ( 59:2).
  • Without intervention, our spiritual sickness is fatal ( 6:23).

In so many ways we are like the ten lepers—desperate for healing, separated from our Savior, marked for death.

But the same Jesus who healed all ten lepers with a word healed us by His sacrifice on the cross.

Let’s circle back and see how the story ends.

Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well” (vv. 17–19).

My Bible adds a footnote that says “or saves you.”

All ten of the lepers were healed from their physical sickness, but only one was saved from his spiritual sickness. It wasn’t the words “thank you” that saved him, but his worship of his Savior. He bended his knees and bowed his life in front of the One who could save his body and his soul.

So You Want to Stand Out?

Most of us are too busy racing through our lives to ever stop and say thanks. One leper in this story received special blessings just because he paused, pivoted, and praised God for all he had done.

If you want to be just like everyone else:

  • Stay busy every second.
  • Never stop and say “thank you.”
  • Never ponder the miracles God has done in your heart and life.

But if you want to stand out, want to be different, want to be made fully well . . . pause, pivot, and praise.

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