Text Version | Afrikaans | For younger children
Nathan sat on the ground, writing with a stick in the sand. He wished he could go to school with the other kids and play with them, but he was a leper.
In Jesus' days, lepers were outcasts and had to stay away from other people, because healthy people were afraid they would also catch this horrible, contagious, mutilating skin disease. They could not live in towns and cities and could not even visit them. Their clothes had to be torn, their hair had to hang loose and their mouths and beards covered. When they saw other people, they had to yell loudly that they were lepers so that people would stay out of their way.
Nine other lepers lived in a cave in the mountain with Nathan. There were a Pharisee, a scribe, a dealer, a baker, a soldier, a tax collector, a sower, a shepherd and a fisherman. Family members always placed some food for them at a certain tree, which they called the "Postal Tree." It was one of Nathan's tasks to go and fetch the parcels from the Postal Tree.
Nathan's parents were dead but, fortunately, he still had an older sister, Abigail, who lived with their uncle. Abigail always took food for him to the Postal Tree and sometimes she also added a letter with news about events in the outside world. Each time, he asked either the Pharisee or the scribe to read the letter to him and then shared his food with all the lepers.
On several occasions, Nathan had asked the Pharisee and the scribe to teach him to read and write, but they were a bit reluctant to do it.
"Why?" they asked him. "You are not going to use it, because you are never going to get healed and be able to live a normal life among other people. You are a Samaritan. Why should proud Jews like us teach you, a Samaritan orphan, to read and write?"
Then Nathan would answer them, "One never knows. Maybe someday God will have mercy on me and help me."
One day, when Nathan found a parcel from his sister Abigail at the Postal Tree, he also found another letter. He always looked forward to hearing what was written in the letter; it made him glad to know she had not forgotten him. This time, he asked the scribe to read the letter to him.
The leprous scribe sat down on a tree trunk, made himself comfortable and began to read:
"My dearest brother, Nathan! I am so excited to tell you the news about the Nazarene who travels through the country. Many people think He is the Messiah who would come. His Name is Jesus."
"Humph!" said the Pharisee. "We Pharisees know from the scriptures that the Messiah does not come from Nazareth, but from Bethlehem, the city of David."
The leprous scribe nodded his head in agreement but went on reading: "Jesus is on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem and has arrived at a neighboring town today, causing quite a stir. I was there too. The Pharisees asked him all kinds of questions. He answered them with great authority, unlike a man with doctrines of men. His twelve disciples, who travel with Him, are mostly fishermen and one of them is a tax collector."
While they curiously stepped a little closer to hear a little better, the leprous fisherman and tax collector thought to themselves, "Then He is definitely not like the proud Pharisees, who do not want to mix with fishermen and tax collectors."
The leprous scribe cleared his throat and read on: "Jesus said He is a good Shepherd for his sheep and leads them to green valleys with plenty of water. He protects them against predators and his sheep listen to his voice."
The leprous shepherd sat up straight and said, "I have been a good shepherd to my sheep too, and they also listen to me when I call. Maybe we should give this Nazarene a chance and listen to HIM!"
The scribe read on: "Yet, not all people are from his sheep, because not everybody wants to listen to Jesus — one's heart has to be right. Jesus says it is like a sower who sows good seeds and only the plants that grow in good soil bear the best harvests."
"That is true," said the leprous Sower. "I always had to work hard to plow the ground before I could sow the seed; otherwise, my harvests were small! This Jesus knows what He is talking about. I would love to hear what else He has to say."
The leprous scribe went on reading Abigail's letter: "Nathan, Jesus also taught us about the kingdom of God. He said it is like a big, precious pearl, which a dealer wants to buy so eagerly that he sells everything he has to get enough money to buy such a precious treasure."
The leprous dealer said with a tear in his eye, "I would love to buy a precious pearl like that, even if it cost me everything I have. Only, it is such a pity that I am leprous and nobody wants to come close to me to sell me something. All my money means nothing!"
Rubbing his beard, the scribe went on: "My dear brother, now you have to listen very carefully, because the best news is yet to come. Tonight, Jesus will be sleeping over in the neighboring town and will leave for Jerusalem tomorrow morning, but He is going to pass through our town first! Hallelujah! Get all your leprous friends together and bring all of them to town early tomorrow morning, before the crowds flock together!"
"Why do you ask? Because we have heard that this Jesus can perform miracles. At the Sea of Galilee, He fed five thousand people with bread and fish, which He multiplied from only five loaves of bread and two fish a little boy gave to Him! They wanted to crown Him king, but He walked away before they could do it!"
"Wow!" the leprous baker gasped. "How on earth did Jesus do that? I'd have to bake a large amount of bread to feed that many people and my arms would be numb from all the kneading! I would never be able to bake all of that in one day or even one week! It surely was a great miracle!"
"Listen here, guys!" the leprous scribe said, looking very excited while reading on: "We hear Jesus healed people from all kinds of conditions! He caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the mute to speak, the lame to walk; demons were cast out, the dead were raised, a centurion's servant was healed and He even cured a LEPER! You HAVE to come tomorrow morning! I'll also come and look for Jesus on the road to the neighboring town just outside our town! I hope I see you there! Much love, your longing sister, Abigail."
"We definitely HAVE to go!" the leprous soldier spoke for the first time, and everybody agreed with him, even the Pharisee. "I'll take my sword with us to ensure that nobody keeps us away from Jesus!" the Soldier said firmly. Nathan did not think the sword would really be necessary.
That night Nathan was so excited that he hardly slept. He thought, "I wonder if Jesus would be merciful to ME, a Samaritan orphan, and would heal me too or does He only heal Jews?"
Long before the sun rose, he and the other lepers were getting themselves ready to leave. The road was rocky and they had to tread carefully, but soon they reached the main road. Just outside the town, they sat down to wait at a safe distance from the road, where they could see Jesus from afar.
The sun was already shining down hot when they heard voices. "Here He comes! Here He comes!" some of the pedestrians on the road yelled excitedly. The lepers stood up hastily, hobbling closer to Jesus, but still stayed standing at a distance from Him! There was something about Him that filled them with awe, but they did not quite know what it was.
"Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" they all yelled out loud.
When Jesus saw them, He knew they were lepers and his heart went out to them with compassion. Then He told them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests!"
In those days, the priests were like doctors and had to judge according to the laws of Moses whether a person was leprous or not, sick or healed.
All ten lepers decided in an instant to do in FAITH what Jesus had commanded them. Immediately they left to go to the priests.
Suddenly, they felt their whole bodies tingling. They pulled their clothes from their arms and legs to see what was going on. As sure as fate, they were all healed! Their skin was no more withered and disfigured, but smooth as those of small children. They began to run and leap with joy on their way to the priests.
The healed Pharisee said, "The priests must hurry to declare me clean so that my honor can be restored in Pharisee circles!" Maybe the Pharisee was too PROUD and thought it was NOT NECESSARY to turn around and thank Jesus.
The healed scribe said, "I must make sure of all the prescribed sacrifices which I have to offer when the priests declare me healed. Remember, guys — you have to bring the correct sacrifices!" Maybe the scribe wanted to obey the LAWS of Moses more than he wanted to go back and thank Jesus.
The healed dealer said, "As soon as I'm done at the priests', I have to go and see if all my money is still there so I can buy and sell again. Maybe somewhere I'll find a precious pearl to buy." Maybe the dealer wanted to make a big profit to PAY Jesus something before he would go and thank Jesus.
The healed tax collector said, "How far is it to the priests? From now on, I won't ask anybody for more money than I ought to." Maybe the tax collector was too ASHAMED about all the wrong things he had done before to go back to Jesus and thank Him.
The healed sower said, "The weather looks good for sowing seed. If I'm done quickly enough at the priests', I'll be able to get my plowing implements and oxen ready to plow my fields for the seed I want to sow tomorrow. The sowing season is drawing to an end!" Maybe the sower thought that he DESERVED to be healed because he felt he could work enough so that it wasn't necessary to thank Jesus.
The healed baker said, "As soon as the priests declare me clean, I have to start to bake again. I wonder if all my baking sheets are rusted through. Maybe I'll have to get new ones." Maybe the baker was too BUSY thinking about his bakery to go and thank Jesus.
The healed soldier said, "I must go and report to my centurion as soon as possible but, from now on, I'll be content with my pay; I won't force anybody with my sword to do things for me which they don't want to." Maybe the soldier was too AFRAID to go and thank Jesus.
The healed shepherd said, "Oh, I have been missing my sheep! I wonder if they will still recognize my voice and I wonder whether or not my sons have taken good care of them while I was away. I hope the priests hurry up to declare me healed." Maybe the shepherd was more CONCERNED about his sheep than going to thank Jesus.
The healed fisherman said, "My fishing net and boat can wait. After the priests, I have to go immediately and tell my family and friends what Jesus has done!" Maybe the fisherman was in too big a HURRY to go and thank Jesus. Maybe he felt it was more important to go and tell his family and friends about his healing.
Nathan, the Samaritan orphan, thought to himself, "This Jesus must be Someone Who has much greater authority than earthly priests…even the high priest!" He gasped, "Could it be that He is the HEAVENLY HIGH PRIEST sent by God?"
Immediately, he turned around and, with a loud voice, he glorified God with his healed hands held high for everybody to see. "Praise God in the highest heavens! I thank You, Lord, that You have granted me such great mercy and have given me back my life! Now I know that You have not abandoned me and really love me and care about me like a Father for his son!"
Nathan fell down in front of Jesus' feet and thanked Him, "THANK YOU VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH, Jesus, that You healed ME — a Samaritan orphan — and gave me a new life. From now on, I'll serve you, wholly committed out of thankfulness!"
Then Jesus said to everyone who could hear, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was there no one found to return, and to recognize, and give thanks and praise to God except this alien?"
Then Jesus looked at Nathan with great compassion, love and joy in his eyes, knowing that Nathan had shown his gratitude to the HEAVENLY HIGH PRIEST, Jesus Himself. So Jesus said to him, "Get up and go on your way! Your faith has restored you!"
With his heart full of wonder and gratitude, Nathan got up and turned around. When he looked up, he saw his beloved sister Abigail with tears of joy streaming down her face. They embraced each other and Nathan said, "Thank you, Abigail, for all the good things you have done for me while I was a leper. An even BIGGER THANK YOU for telling me about Jesus, Who healed me and gave me back my life! Out of thankfulness to Him, I have now given my life to Him, to serve Him forever with everything within me. Will you join me in serving Him?"
Without hesitation, Abigail said, "Of course, my dear brother! How can we not?"
How many lepers did Jesus heal?
How many turned around and thanked Him?
Do you think Jesus was glad that Nathan thanked Him?
Is there something you can thank Jesus for today?
Do you think you can thank Him every day?
Do you think Jesus is glad when you thank Him?
Can you think about something which prevents you from giving thanks?
Remember to always say thanks to God and others who have done good to you. Let nothing stop you from giving thanks. It makes others glad.
A VERSE TO LEARN
"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Dear Jesus, please forgive me where I haven't been thankful.
Thank You for coming down to earth and performing miracles
to help us learn of Your great love for us.
Help us remember to be thankful to You,
and to say thank you when others show us kindness.
In Your Name we pray. Amen.
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