This evening for Family Home Evening, I read the Easter story in the Gospel of Luke with my kids. The older ones read aloud while the youngest one picked out and showed us the pictures from our well-used LDS Gospel Art Kit. It was a touching experience to see the looks on their faces as they contemplated what Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection meant for them. I was able to share with them my testimony of the Savior’s atonement at the end of the lesson.
In our family Book of Mormon reading, we just finished the book of Helaman and have started Third Nephi. In the next few days we’ll read of the Savior’s birth, death and resurrection as recounted by New World prophets. Again, I’ll have a chance to share my testimony with my kids.
Reading of Christ in the Four Gospels
Recently, I finished a whirlwind reading of the four Gospels, something I hadn’t done in a while. I always enjoy getting a fresh dose of the life, teachings and example of the Savior in my heart and mind.
During my reading of the Gospels this last time around, I was drawn to several of the biblical groups and figures in new ways. One was the people the Savior healed, and in particular, the lepers. They were outcasts in their communities. They were unclean and unwanted. Nevertheless, the Lord in his compassion healed them as they came to him. Late in His life, He was found having supper in the home of Simon the Leper. What a blessing to know that Christ doesn’t reject the ill and infirm or those who are unwanted in society. To the contrary, He invites all to come unto Him so He can give them rest.
When Christ Healed the Ten Lepers
One of my favorite New Testament stories is that of Christ healing the ten lepers. As the Savior was traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee, ten lepers called out to him from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He called back directing them to go into town and show themselves to the priests. As they went to follow the Lord’s directive, they were healed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at [Jesus'] feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole (Luke 17:15-19).
When One Leper Returned to Give Thanks
It has seemed to me as I read this story that while those nine were clearly thrilled to be healed, they were also anxious to get back into their old lives and forget the horror of their disease. Along with forgetting about the disease they also apparently forgot about the Source of their healing. By contrast, the one leper, although also delighted to be healed, remembered and felt compelled to return and give thanks to Jesus.
I imagine hearing the former leper make a final reply to the Savior’s admonition to “go thy way”: “Lord, my way is now thy way.” I suspect that this one former leper would always remember the Miracle that healed him. In fact, I like to think that this man spent the rest of his life helping the other lepers in his community. Somehow, I don’t think he forgot where he came from.
As I was reading the story this last time, I wondered: Heavenly Father in His wisdom and mercy led me–a struggling, miserable sex and pornography addict who also happened to be a Latter-day Saint–to Sexaholics Anonymous after years of suffering in ignorance about the reality of my addiction. As I now move further along in recovery from my addiction, will I be like the nine? Will I head back into the middle of the Church and like the nine, (perhaps) never speak of my affliction again? Or, following in the footsteps of my Redeemer, will I look to help those within and without the Church who continue to suffer in silence from the pain of pornography and sexual addiction–both the addicts and the spouses? Will I be willing to visit the one in prison? Will I leave the ninety and nine to find the one–the lost sheep who knows his compulsive sexual behavior is killing himself and his marriage, but can’t seem to find a way to stop?
I Relate to the Lepers in the New Testament
It’s funny: The more I experience recovery from addiction, the more I relate to the lepers in the New Testament. I don’t think I exaggerate in suggesting that sex and pornography addiction is the leprosy of our time. It’s makes us unclean. It causes us to be isolated physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is more powerful than I am on my own. And the more I recognize my own powerlessness, the more I am aware of my absolute reliance upon a faithful and loving Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Happy Easter!