[Begin by offering $5 bills to anyone who will take them, up to ten people: see if any or how many say thank you. This object lesson will illustrate two things: thanksgiving and salvation being a gift that must be received by faith. It would be better to use a $10 or $20 only I cannot afford it, I am hoping that $5’s will work]
Text: Luke 17:11-2011 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
I’m going to get away from our series during the holidays and today, I want to talk about true Thanksgiving. In the story today, Jesus healed ten lepers but only one returned to offer thanks. Can we use this story to support the claim that only 10% of people are thankful. I am not sure we should make such a claim but we can say with a very good conscience that most people are not thankful and we are especially unthankful when it comes to spiritual blessings and what Christ has done for us.
Let me say, before we get into the heart of the sermon, that leprosy was a dreaded and horrific disease that literally destroyed the human body. Leprosy destroys the nerve ending in the extremities of our body like fingers, toes, nose, ears, etc. It has been none to consume entire limbs. Literally leprosy works from the inside and causes the body to consume itself. There was no cure for leprosy; there were no hospitals for lepers. Generally, lepers congregated because there was no one else who would dwell in their presence but they had to care for each other. Lepers have such a foul odor that many people cannot stand to get near them. A well known SB speaker attempted to enter a leper colony and stopped at the door. She got sick at her stomach and was not able to enter. In Jesus day, not one got near a leper.
This is a great story and there are so many direction that we could follow but we want to stick to the theme of Thanksgiving AMAP but there is one point I want to make before we get the Thanksgiving aspect. These men had no hope until Jesus showed up. When there is no hope anywhere: from men, medicine, science, technology, etc. there is always hope with Jesus. These guys were hopeless until that met Jesus.
Let me make some observations about thanksgiving.
I. TRUE THANKSGIVING ACKNOWLEDGES THE GIVER AS WELL AS THE GIFT.
“And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” Have you met a thankful atheist? I have not known that many atheist or agnostics but the ones have dealt with were all bitter. I don’t think you can find a thankful atheist if you search the world over. The atheist might acknowledge the gift but he/she will not acknowledge the giver of the gift. So I want to say first of all, if you are truly thankful, you will come to Jesus and give Him proper thanks.
II. TRUE THANKSGIVING ERUPTS IN TO ENTHUSIASTIC PRAISE
Note verse 13… As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” The Greek word translated here called out is airō phone which means literally raise your voice. Leprosy does damage vocal chords so these men probably formed a ten man choir and called out in unison. But now notice verse 15…Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Loud voice in the Greek is mega phone. You put them together and you have megaphone. You know what mega means: it is big, huge; it is more than raising your voice, it is shouting. This guy came running toward Jesus shouting in a megaphone voice, “Praise God, praise God! Jesus said, “Shut up man, you are embarrassing me.” NOT! What do you think Jesus did when he came running shouting praises to God? I think Jesus was laughing. I think He took delight in this man’s excitement about what God had done in his life. How many of you believe that Jesus had a frown on His face? So you agree with me that He was pleased, delighted and that He enjoyed every moment. I don’t know that people can tell that we are thankful by the pitiful voices we raise in praise. I am not talking about hitting notes: I am talking about Mega Praise, giving Jesus your best.
III. TRUE THANKSGIVING WORSHIPS JESUS
Note verse 16…”He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.” I think it is a given that if you are ashamed to raise your voice in praise and give a mega shout to the LORD you are not going to prostrate yourself at Jesus feet. You say, “If He was here, I would be the first to the altar.” You are a liar, He is here and you treat this altar like it has leprosy. You say, I can’t prostrate myself, how will I get up? I grant that some cannot do it physically but that is not the problem: the problem is the heart, we are not prostrating the heart. If we could get our heart to bow our body would gladly submit. The truth is: we are not like the lone Samaritan that returned shouting mega praises to God and falling at the feet of Jesus, we are more like the ten who didn’t bother to come back and thank the Giver for the gift.
I want to conclude with a story….
While on a short‑term missions trip in 1996, Pastor Jack Hinton from New Bern, North Carolina, was leading worship at a leper colony on the island if Tabango. There was time for one more song, so he asked if anyone had a request. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.
“It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” Hinton said. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. The disease had destroyed her lips as well. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?'”
Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “Jack, I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”
“Yes I will,” Jack replied, “but I’ll never sing it the same way.”