I’ve just returned from serving with friends at an Encounter Camp in Worcester and where we’ve been deeply impacted by the experience.
Early in the morning before we arrived, I had been reading Luke 15 and hadn’t been able to get past the first verse… ‘Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to him.’ Later I saw this with my own eyes in a room of people as many who have struggled with life-controlling issues and trauma were joyfully worshipping Jesus. Hearing one after the other calling out their heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving to God for saving them, giving them a second chance and healing, and rescuing them has left a mark on me that I don’t want to forget. What stood out was how God’s presence felt so tangible in an atmosphere of such thanksgiving.
This morning as I was reading a familiar story in Luke 17; the story of the Ten Lepers who were healed by Jesus, God highlighted many parallels to me.
Jesus entered a village and was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance, and it says, ‘lifting up their voices they said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ As lepers, they stood at a distance because they knew they were outcasts. Their leprous condition meant they were very familiar with shame and rejection but as they cried out for mercy Jesus saw them. He sees those who are outcasts, who stand at a distance knowing they are sinful and broken. Jesus sees those who are stuck in shame and rejection. He saw me and he saw you. When we stood at a distance, He saw us and loved us even before we saw or loved Him and when we cried out, he heard us. He is the Prodigal Father who runs to restore us and celebrates us as we come home to Him.
In the story, the 10 lepers are healed as they go on their way, and I was reminded of a time when I saw Jesus do the same. I had spotted a girl across the road who was holding onto some railings because she had just badly sprained her ankle and my husband, and I went across to help her and ask if we could pray for her. At first, she was shy and embarrassed and reluctant to receive any prayer but after a while, she agreed. With a rush of faith, I told her that I believed she would be healed as she went on her way, the same words Jesus had spoken to the 10 lepers, and as we crossed over the road and looked back, we saw that she was no longer limping but walking normally.
What has spoken afresh to me from this story in Luke 17 and from my time away this week is how our thanksgiving attracts Jesus. In the story, it was only one who turned back to thank Jesus. When he saw that he was healed, it says, he turned back praising God with a loud voice and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet giving him thanks. That is what I saw and was deeply impacted by this week. Not that these people are perfect they are broken vessels like you and I, but they were so thankful, loudly praising God, dancing, waving, and shouting their thanksgiving to him without any hint of performance.
Over the two days we were there we saw many signs and wonders that remind me of why Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ Jesus loves to heal and in just one night we saw 19 people touched and healed from many painful conditions. One lady received Christ in the afternoon, her first word of knowledge in the evening and then she too herself was healed.
I think Jesus loves to come when we simply say, “Thank You”.