Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him–and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
It is over a month until we will join the rest of the United States in observing Thanksgiving Day. On that day, many gather to thank our heavenly Father for all of the blessings that he has poured out upon us. It is very fitting and proper for us to do so. For as St. Paul said in Acts 17:28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Yet, our entire country takes time on that day to remember all of the good things that they have. What about the rest of the year? Is that thankful attitude still present? Are we as thankful today as we are on Thanksgiving? This morning, we have the opportunity, apart from Thanksgiving Day, to pause and look at OUR REASONS FOR GIVING THANKS. 1. Jesus Shows Us Pity. 2. Jesus Is The Source Of Our Blessings. 3. Jesus Gives Praise.
The events of our text occurred as Jesus was making his final trip from Galilee to Jerusalem. As he traveled along, he was met by 10 men who had leprosy. These men were suffering from a horrible disease. The word “leprosy” can mean one of any related diseases. There was one strain that was like tuberculosis, which would cause numbness, paralysis, and finally the shrinking away of muscles and tissue. There was another strain that caused ulceration of the skin, loss of tissue and deformity. It was a horrible disease and highly contagious. Any person that caught leprosy was taken out of the city. He had to live away from family and friends. He had to cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” whenever anyone came near. Because of his disease, he was not able to go to the temple and offer sacrifices. The person with leprosy was cut off from the rest of the world. He was as good as dead.
Ten men with this condition must have heard that Jesus was nearby, so they all called out together, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” They knew that Jesus was able to help them. They put their trust in him. When Jesus saw them, he took pity on them. He wanted to help them, so he told them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” God had set up rules regarding leprosy and other skin diseases in Leviticus 13. If a person caught the disease, the priest was the one who determined if that person was to be excluded from the people. If a person was cured, it was the priest who declared them healed. Jesus took pity on them, and, in essence, told them that they would be healed.
Jesus also took pity on us, as well. We, too, were infected by a disease. However, this disease was far more deadly than leprosy. Just as leprosy caused great pain and suffering for the person, who was infected, so also sin causes us pain on this earth and leads to eternal suffering in hell. Just as the leper had to cry out “Unclean!” whenever another came near them, so we can do nothing but cry out “Unclean!,” when we compare our lives to God’s holy law. Just as the leper was cut off from family and friends, so also we were cut off from our loving God because of our sins. Our sins had separated us from our heavenly Father, and we were as good as dead, not only in the physical sense, but also in the eternal sense of punishment forever. We were unable to cure ourselves.
So Jesus took pity on us. He saw us as we wandered around in our sins, with no hope for a cure. He came to the earth to live a sin-free life. Never once was he infected with the deadly disease of sin. He lived a perfect life for us. He, then, sacrificed that life on the cross. He did so to give us the cure. On the cross, he suffered and died so that every sin might be paid for. He came to take away the disease from us. He offers the cure to all who have been brought to believe in him as Savior. Where there is faith, there is forgiveness. Now, when God sees us, he doesn’t see bodies racked with the disease of sin. Instead, he sees perfection, for we are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. We have been cured, because Jesus has shown us pity.
That, truly, is a reason to be thankful today. We know that our sins have been forgiven. We know that we have been set free from the disease of sin that led to eternal death. Now, we have eternal life in heaven to look forward to. Your sins have been forgiven. This is one reason that we can be thankful, for Jesus has shown us pity.
After Jesus showed pity to the 10 lepers and told them to go show themselves to the priests, the 10 men left immediately. They showed their faith, by leaving right away. They didn’t wait around for the miracle to happen. They believed that, since Jesus had said so, the miracle would happen. As they went on their way, they were healed, just as Jesus had said they would be.
When one of them saw that he had been healed, he turned around and came back to Jesus. As he returned, he sang out in a loud voice, praising God. He recognized that it was Jesus who had healed him. His first response was to come back and thank Jesus for healing him. The other 9 believed that Jesus would help them. Yet, their weakness of faith is shown by their ingratitude. However, this one former leper returned to the source of his healing to give thanks to him.
So also we have gathered here this morning to give thanks to the Source of our healing, Jesus Christ. For without him, we would be lost forever in our sins. When someone does something special for us, we naturally say, Thank you.” We thank Jesus for saving us from our sins.
We, also, thank God this morning as the Source of every blessing that we receive. God works through the forces of nature to provide for us. He causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine. He makes the plant grow. He gives us the ability to earn a living, by which we can provide for ourselves and our families. God shows himself to be the source of many other blessings. Who created the family, with the love between the husband and wife, parents and children? Was it not God? Who has kept our country safe? It was God. God has showered blessing upon blessing on us. We recognize that he is the Source of every blessing.
He, also, is the Source of every spiritual blessing. Once again, we have been privileged to gather together in his house to hear his Word and to sing his praises. He offers us the forgiveness of sins through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. He has given us his Word, by which we receive strength to deal with the sadness and problems we undergo as we live in a sinful world. He has given us the ability to pray to him, communicating our deepest thoughts, needs and desires. Once we have prayed to him, we can rest assured that it is in God’s hands and that he will do whatever is the best thing for us. He has promised to care for our every need. As our loving God, he is the Source of every blessing. Here, also, we have reason to be thankful, for, as we are reminded in James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”
When the leper returned to give thanks, Jesus indicated sadness at the fact that the nine did not return. However, he does show his pleasure in the one man’s thankfulness. He told him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Jesus was telling the man, ‘Keep it up. You’re on the right track. This is a good beginning. The faith that is in you now will continue to show thanksgiving by the good things that you do.’ The man’s faith was praised. He showed his faith to the world by coming to Jesus and thanking him. Jesus told him to keep on living a thankful life.
So also Jesus praises us for our lives of thanksgiving. As we said earlier, when someone does something nice for you, you naturally say, “Thank you.” This morning we have, just briefly touched on a few of the many blessings that God has shown to us. Let us show our thankfulness by doing the things that are pleasing to our heavenly Father. Let us dedicate ourselves to living our faith. It is only reasonable that we do these things. After all, we were created to serve God. Now we can do so out of love for him. This is our joy in life.
Yet, even though this is our duty; even though our obedience is something that is expected, our thankfulness is encouraged. Jesus still praises us for saying “Thank you.” He blesses us while we are here on the earth. But, far more important are his words on the Last Day. There we will hear the greatest words of praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” There we shall receive the reward that Jesus won for us, namely, eternal joy and happiness in heaven. Jesus says to his servants, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you.” Jesus praises our thankful lives.
In a little over a month, much of our country will join together to celebrate Thanksgiving. There we see God’s bountiful hand as he provides for us, once again. But, as we see God’s blessings today, let us not forget the greatest blessing of all. Jesus died and rose again so that I might be forgiven. Focus on the greatest blessing that you have been given. May we not only be thankful today, but every day of our lives. Every day God blesses you and me with more than we deserve and desire. May we show our thankfulness in the way that we live our lives. We have so many reason to be thankful. Indeed, we say with the psalmist, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Amen.
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