As Jesus entered a certain village, he saw ten lepers standing in the distance. Their disease, considered a form of living death, required the afflicted to cry out "unclean, unclean" (Leviticus 13:45) when approaching those who were not so stricken. In like manner each of us has, to one degree or another, a form of spiritual leprosy—sins that have blotted, defaced, and eaten away at our spiritual well-being. Such a condition makes us unclean in the presence of the Holy One, and like the lepers of the ancient Israelite village, we too must stand off in the spiritual distance until the day of our cleansing. Not unlike the ten lepers, we cry out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us" (Luke 17:13). We know there is no hope for a chance cleansing or a self-induced healing. The only hope, the only cure, is to seek the mercy and the cleansing powers offered by the Atoning One.
The Savior exercised those healing powers upon the ten lepers and then gave the command, "Go shew yourselves unto the priests" (Luke 17:14). When the cleansing was complete, one of the lepers turned back and with a loud voice glorified God. He then fell to the Savior's feet, "giving him thanks" (Luke 17:16). He who moments before was but a shadow of life now had life in its fullest. The Savior then asked a soul-searching question of universal implications: "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" (Luke 17:17). Are not all mortals eligible for the healing powers of the Atonement? Has not that price been paid for all? Are we among the nine who walk away healed but unmindful, perhaps even ungrateful, of the payment that made it possible? Again and again we might sing the words of the hymn, "I Stand All Amazed":
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. . . .
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?
We can never forget. The words of David should ring in our hearts again and again: "O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever" (Psalm 30:12).
One does not speak lightly of the Atonement or casually express his appreciation. It is the most sacred and sublime event in eternity. It deserves our most intense thoughts, our most profound feelings, and our noblest deeds. One speaks of it in reverential tones; one contemplates it in awe; one learns of it in solemnity. This event stands alone, now and throughout eternity.