The Other Nine

by Charles Slack

lost sheepNOTE:1)´You anoint my Head with Oil´ [Psalm 23]. We see a shepherd anointing the heads of sheep with oil to preserve them from sunstroke, or to heal bramble scratches. Photograph courtesy of Bible Photo Gallery. This is not about golf. My nephew and namesake Charles Warner2)My middle name is William. Slack, a far better golfer (and writer), writes about golf.3)Slack, Charles W. Blue Fairways, Three Months, Sixty Courses, No Mulligans, 2000, Henry Holt and Co., got rave reviews.

My article below is about God not golf, about how He wants us to find and witness to people who have been healed but don’t yet know Who healed them. It contains an unusual interpretation of some verses in Luke 17 with which anyone is certainly free to disagree.

God questions us

Sometimes God asks rhetorical questions, stimulating us to find answers for ourselves. When Adam sinned, God asked, “Adam, where are you?” God already knew the answer. He was merely prompting Adam to consider his situation, where he was “at”.

In Luke 17:12-19, Jesus also asks a question to which He clearly knows the answer. As He walks along the border between Samaria and Galilee, ten lepers stand apart (quarantined) and yell for Jesus to have mercy. Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests. As they go, they are healed.

Only one then turns around to praise God. But this one, a (despised) Samaritan, thanks Jesus profusely.

Jesus then asks the rhetorical question, “Where are the other nine? Can no one be found to return and to recognize, thank and praise God except this Samaritan?”

The Bible doesn’t say why

Is Jesus making a comment about human ingratitude? Yes, obviously,4)An important lesson: never, ever expect gratitude. Jesus gets ten percent. Will you get more than He? but there must be more to it. Maybe He wants us to know the underlying reasons behind the ingratitude. Is He teaching against prejudice, revealing a despised Samaritan more grateful than some Jews? Yes perhaps, except that the other nine might be Samaritans as well. The Bible doesn’t give particulars so it’s up to the reader to figure out why Jesus asks the question.

Here is my very personal interpretation:

“Where are the other nine?”

Jesus asks, “Can no one be found…?” I think He wants us to find the other nine and discover for ourselves why more people don’t turn around to thank God after being blessed. Of course these days, many don’t believe God exists. They may be quite grateful in their own way but not to God: they credit human agencies, thank their “lucky stars” or “karma”. Others think God might exist but doesn’t do anything: these often credit science or themselves, being grateful to their “inner child”, “better self” or “higher power”. Still others, afraid that God might make demands on them to repay, are grateful but too scared to turn and face Him. And some are too obsessed with the gift, reacting like a child at Christmas, unable to recognise the Giver of the gift. Of course, anyone could be just plain thoughtless, full stop. So it’s perhaps all, or none, of the above. The only way to know is to let “the other nine” “be found”.

What is leprosy?

“Leprosy” in the Bible refers to many ugly-looking symptoms, not just to Hanson’s disease. The Old Testament even talks of leprosy of the walls of buildings and tents probably meaning mildew or dry rot.5)Leviticus 13:14  In any case, people avoid loathsome conditions: in today’s terms think AIDS, think STD’s, think morbid obesity – think drug addiction.

I am a recovered addict who found God after deliverance from drugs. Like the Samaritan leper, I first got healed and then turned to Jesus. Others first turn to him and then get healed. Many I know, like the nine lepers, are healed but have not turned to Him – yet.

But God is gracious with his healing. Mine took place in a “fellowship” where the “Higher Power” remains anonymous. They just say, “If you want to get off drugs, join us.” So I did. Many are healed without knowing the Healer.

But now, who better to find the “other nine” than a grateful Samaritan like me? I can tell them Jesus is the One who removed compulsions, healed ugly diseases, and lifted stigmas! “Come with me to worship Him.”

The percentage of healed addicts who turn to Jesus is probably no more than it was in His day. I’d say ten-percent come and worship. Still the total number is significant: one anonymous 12-Step fellowship estimates 30,000 groups world wide in 2002. If each group averages ten members, that means 30,000 grateful worshipers of Jesus, more than any Christian drug program I know.

And as more Christians find the “other nine”, God brings the increase. One Perth church has recently had about ten decisions for Christ from a non-Christian drug rehab. That church now has a total of more than fifteen new ex-addict members, all because one rehab night-duty worker (who wants to remain anonymous) is a healed Christian diligently seeking other nine. ?

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References   [ + ]

1. ´You anoint my Head with Oil´ [Psalm 23]. We see a shepherd anointing the heads of sheep with oil to preserve them from sunstroke, or to heal bramble scratches. Photograph courtesy of Bible Photo Gallery.
2. My middle name is William.
3. Slack, Charles W. Blue Fairways, Three Months, Sixty Courses, No Mulligans, 2000, Henry Holt and Co., got rave reviews.
4. An important lesson: never, ever expect gratitude. Jesus gets ten percent. Will you get more than He?
5. Leviticus 13:14

Charles Slack

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