November 24, 2016
Who bothers to thank God?
Ten men, afflicted with a disease that excluded them from normal society (Leviticus 13:45-59) and inevitably brought about death, sought help from the Savior. All ten were told to show themselves to the priest as was required (Leviticus 14:2-20). All ten were healed. All ten were given a full bill of health. All ten were given a new lease on life. All ten were good to go. Yet only one returns to give thanks. The Savior asks the obvious question – “What happened to the nine?” Our text begs the question who bothers to thank God?
1. Certainly not those whose only concern is to enjoy what has been given them.
A. Ten meet Jesus. Ten called Him “Master”. Ten were healed and undoubtedly rejoiced. Only one looked beyond the healing to the Healer. Giving thanks has greater priority for him than being certified as clean.
B. Like the nine, people can often display a selfishness that is enamored by the things that benefit us and that cares not at all for the God who supplies our every need. This is covetousness and idolatry at its core. How many today find themselves deeply in debt, chasing after the latest fashion statement, driving cars they can not afford, trying to impress people for whom they do not care? That is the temptation of this world – that the allure of possessions will bring happiness. It will be witnessed tomorrow- black Friday- the first official sale day of the Christmas holiday season - when malls will be filled with shoppers attempting to bring cheer to their lives with things they can not afford.
C. Beware! Such selfish myopia stifles thanksgiving. It sees no cause for gratitude unless we receive what we things is best, at the time we prefer, in the way we desire. When this attitude prevails, who bothers to thank God?
Transition: Who bothers to thank God? Certainly not those whose only concern is to enjoy what has been given them. Nor does it come from those who become all wrapped up in themselves.
2. Not those who believe that God’s good treatment is something they have earned for themselves.
A. The story strongly emphasizes that the only man who returned to give thanks to Jesus was both a Samaritan and a foreigner - a man with no rights. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, a symbolic act of complete subjection. He realized that his healing was an act of pure mercy, not a payment that he deserved.
B. How much his views differed from those of the majority of people, both at Christ’s time and still today. How easy it is, even for us, to pin our hope for God’s favor on what we are or think or say or do. We desire and sometimes demand that God be kind to us and help us as a reward for our good church attendance or our righteous living or our delightful personalities. How many today think that God should stand up and take notice! - Because of your awesomeness? Really?
C. Beware! Such self-righteous pride will not fall at Jesus feet. It will not thank Him. It gives no glory to God for His marvelous works of mercy. It sees God only as a paymaster, who distributes benefits to those who have earned them. When this attitude prevails, who bothers to thanks God?
Transition: Who bothers to thank God? Not those whose only concern is to enjoy what has been given them. Not those who think God owes them? It comes from those who have received mercy.
3. Only those whom God has rescued from the dominion of sin and Satan by giving them faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
A. The event reported in the Gospel happened while Jesus was on the way to the city of Jerusalem. He was traveling to that city to lay down His life as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. The guilt of our selfishness and pride rested on His shoulders. The hands that in the others cases healed with a touch were soon to be nailed to the cross as payment for our ingratitude and love-less-ness. The voice that told the lepers to show themselves to the priest would soon cry out in pain and agony, “I thirst!” and “My God, my God, why have Your forsaken me? Jesus endured the full punishment of body and soul that we all deserve. But that same voice would sound forth again after His resurrection, announcing that forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to Jews and Samaritans and all the nations of the earth – to all who would listen both believer and pagan alike.
B. Only the power of the resurrected Christ, received by us through faith, can purge our hearts of the spiritual maladies of selfishness and pride and ingratitude and sin. Only in the strength that he supplies are we able to overcome our natural inclination toward evil and truly give thanks and glory to God.
Through faith in Christ, the Samaritan leper received healing in his body. Motivated by that faith, he returned to give thanks. For such as that leper, it is not at all a bother to thank God. The expression of heartfelt thanks to God with our lips and our lives is a joyous privilege that God provides for us here in time and hereafter in eternity.