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Luke 17:11, 14-Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

He didn’t have to go that way. Pure and simple. While the path Jesus took towards Jerusalem was the quickest, it was also the way less traveled by self-respecting Jews. First of all, staying as far away from Samaria was always preferred. They were ‘half-breeds’, arrogant and, well, they not only had a sin problem, they worshiped God in the wrong way. Along with that, the path leading along the border of Samaria and Galilee was a robbery waiting to happen. Thieves and other scoundrels lurked along the way in wait of prey.

Still, he went and scripture implies that he went slowly, visiting each town and village along the way and healing people as usual. Most Jews hurried through the small country of Samaria, not Jesus. As he approached on small village a group of lepers called out to Him. Again, he could have ignored their calls. Lepers were by nature smelly, grotesque looking people and to come near one would make you at best ceremonially unclean. At worst you could ‘catch the disease and be worse off.

He didn’t have to respond. Lepers were outcasts of society. Tradition taught, at that time, that leprosy came upon a person as a punishment for sin. There was nothing physically, emotionally or spiritually appealing the group of ten men that approached Jesus that day. Nothing that would have moved the average person to intervene. But Jesus was no average person!

What was it that moved Him to act? Maybe it was the realization of the emotional trauma these men were in. Maybe it was the prayers their families had offered up on their behalf. Maybe he was looking for some way to show his power over leprosy. Or maybe it was love. It was the compassionate cry of broken people that drove him that day to heal those men.

That’s why I’m expressing gratitude today. I’ve never had leprosy, but I know what it’s like to be rejected. I’ve never been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, but I was born with a birth defect that will eventually kill me, I’m human.

I’m fortunate this Thanksgiving Season to have family and friends that love me and encourage me on the way, some of whom have stood by me through some pretty dark years, as a matter of fact. While I am thankful for those people, the person I’m most thankful for is Jesus Christ. Jesus saw me at my worst, but still believed in me enough to search me out and forgive me.  Like the lepers, Jesus sought me out when I was beaten, bruised and rejected.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, may I never weary of praising you for the many blessings you have bestowed on me. Thank you for reaching out to me when I was at my worst and giving me your best. Your love has freed me from the restraints that kept me in bondage and I praise you. Amen.

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