by James Smith
"Where are the other nine?" Luke 17:17
Ten lepers had been cleansed — one only returned to give glory to God! Struck with their ingratitude, Jesus inquires, "Where are the other nine?" They had received mercy — the greatest temporal mercy they could receive. They could not be insensible of it — they must know it. They were expected to be thankful, and manifest their gratitude. But they were negligent and ungrateful, and Jesus notices their ingratitude!
The Lord will inquire after these nine healed lepers — and after every one who has received His mercy. And how many receive His mercy — who never acknowledge it! How many owe the debt of gratitude, who never attempt to pay it!
WHEN does the Lord inquire after the ungrateful? When His
people present themselves at His throne, to praise Him for mercies received,
and plead for the blessings they need. When they assemble in His ordinances,
to celebrate His goodness, commemorate His love, adore His perfections, and
enjoy His sweet presence. When His truth is falling in the street, or is
vilified and spoken against. When His poor people are pinched by poverty,
and need someone to relieve and comfort them. When His
servants are persecuted and oppressed, and need a friend to stand by and
cheer them. When His cause is low in any place, and needs to be
fostered, screened, and supported. Then the Lord asks, "Where are the
other nine?" Where are those who have received such great mercies at my
hands? They ought to be . . .
first at my throne;
foremost in my house;
zealous for my truth;
ready to help my poor;
delighted to animate my servants;
and pleased to assist my cause!
But where are the other nine?
Perhaps some of them are in the world, mixed up with the giddy multitude; devoted to pleasure, or business, and find no time, nor feel any inclination, to return to give glory to God.
Others are lulled asleep in carnal security — and imagining that they are God's favorites, they rest upon their lees, neglect Christian duties, and dishonor the worthy name whereby they are called. But they ought, if they have obtained spiritual blessings, to be in the church; devoting themselves to the Lord's glory; and using all their talents for the increase of the Redeemer's kingdom. They ought to be awake, and active, and zealous — showing forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.
But will not this inquiry be asked by and bye, when the sheep are separated from the goats — when the Lord's people are collected together — will not many be missing, whom we expected to find among them?
Ah! where will the ungrateful be then? Now they may have a name among the saints. Now they may have a place in the church. But then, they will be banished from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. Then all the ungrateful will be herded together, and be driven to darkness, damnation, and black eternal despair!
Ah! "where are the other nine?" Once they were with the saints. Once we expected to see them among the glorified. But where are they in the day of judgment?
Dear Reader, let us examine ourselves, and ask, Where am I now? Am I in Christ? There is no safety outside of Him — no salvation but by union to Him. We must be one with Christ — or we perish forever.
Where am I now? Am I in the path of duty? Am I where the Lord would have me to be?
What am I? Am I a Christian? A decided Christian? A grateful Christian? A devoted Christian?
What am I doing? Am I working for God? Walking with God? Aiming in all things at the glory of God? "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows — that shall he also reap."
Friend, let us acknowledge the mercies we have received; we are undeserving of the least of them! They flow spontaneously from the kind heart of God; they ought to be acknowledged, and our God be praised, according to what he has done for us. He requires it. He expects it. He demands it at our hands. It is just. It is reasonable. The Lord will inquire after us if we neglect it. He will send by His ministers, by His providence, or by His Spirit, and will ask, "Where are the other nine?"