"Where Are His Thanks?"
Luke 17:11 - 19
(Delivered Sunday, November 18, 2001 at Bethany Bible Church. All scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version.)
I'm always excited about the prospect of sharing a Thanksgiving Sunday message with you. The problem for me has never been that of finding a Thanksgiving passage of Scripture to preach from; but rather the decision of which one to choose! The Bible is filled with so many messages to us about thanksgiving, because it's such an important theme in the Christian faith.
God commands us to be characterized by a life-style of thanks to Him; and this is because of the transformation that happens in us whenever we choose to be thankful to Him. Did you know, for example, that thanksgiving to God is essential to having peace in our hearts? Paul wrote, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).
And did you know that thanksgiving is essential to living in the wonderful liberty of God's grace? Paul also wrote that we're not to allow false teachers to bind us with man-made, religious rules and regulations; "For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (1 Tim. 4:4-5).
And did you know that thanksgiving is essential to enjoying the kind of fellowship with one another as Christians that God wants us to enjoy? Paul wrote, "but above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Col. 3:14-15). In this context, the "peace of God" Paul spoke of was a peace in our relationships with one another; and thankfulness to God for one another is essential to that peace. (I believe that a lot of church fights would never have happened if believing people truly thanked God for one another as they should.)
Did you know that unthankfulness toward God is the main cause of sinicism and bitterness in our hearts? The fastest cure for a chronically critical spirit is to repent of unthankfulness, and to open our mouths and give thanks to God. It's impossible to be "bitter" and "thankful" at the same time; because one attitude drives out the other. That's why God tells us; "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
God commands us to flavor every area of our lives with thanksgiving, because thanksgiving is an act of genuine faith toward God. It says to God, "I don't necessarily like the situation that I'm in, Father; but I believe that I'm in it because You have allowed me to be. I affirm by faith, Father, that You love me, and only allow circumstances in my life which will accomplish Your good purposes for me. I affirm that You will prove Your greatness in this circumstance, and that You'll get glory to Yourself through me in it. And I affirm that, when all that You are seeking to accomplish in me through my trials is fully accomplished, and when I finally behold all the eternal blessings You are bringing about for me as a result, then I will forever praise You that You loved me so much as to allow me to go through it. And so, Father, I thank You now, in the midst of this trial, for my circumstance, and for all that you are doing in it.."
Would I be stretching things too much to believe that every trial and every negative circumstance is given to us by God as a test to see whether or not we'll practice genuine thanks to Him? I believe the angels watch us diligently to see if we'll past the test. And I believe that every time we chose to give genuine thanks to God in the midst of our trials, a resounding cheer of victory bursts forth from the angelic armies in heaven; because we've passed the test, and won the battle through our thanks to God!
One of the most important things we can do to put feet on our Christian faith is to cultivate a lifestyle of thanksgiving to God. We gain so much from giving thanks to God. But this morning, I'd like us to consider our thanksgiving from God's perspective. I'd like us to consider how Jesus Himself feels about our thanksgiving.
A story from the New Testament illustrates to us the importance Jesus places on our sincere thanks to Him. In his gospel, Luke tells the story of some of the events that occurred while Jesus was making His way to Jerusalem to die on the cross for our sins. Luke 17:11-19 says,
Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well" (Luke 17:11-19).
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Samaria and Galilee were two separate regions; and apparently, Jesus was traveling along the border that divided them. But a border wasn't the only thing that divided these two regions; they were also divided by the hostilities and prejudices that the people within them held against each other.
Do you remember when Jesus sat by a well in Samaria and asked a woman for a cup of water? She was very surprised; because, as the Bible explains, "the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans" (John 4:9). The ordinary Jewish person didn't have the time of day for their Samaritan neighbors to the north; because they were considered a mixed people - half-Jewish and half-Gentile. True blue Jews despised the Samaritans so much, that when the Jews wanted to really lay an insult on Jesus, they said, "... You are a Samaritan and have a demon" (John 8:47).
And as far as the Samaritans were concerned, the feeling was mutual. When the time came for Jesus to set His face toward Jerusalem, in order to go there from Galilee and die on the cross, it was necessary for Him to pass through the region of Samaria. But when He sent messengers to a Samaritan village so they could prepare the way for Him, the people of the village refused to welcome Him. The reason? The Bible tells us, "... Because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:53).
And so, Jesus was passing through between the regions of Samaria and Galilee; and as He entered a certain village, a group of ten lepers met Him. Apparently, this group was a mixture of Jewish and Samaritan lepers. It seems that all the ethnic distinctions and cultural animosities that normally separated Jews and Samaritans ceased to matter to people - once they had leprosy.
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It's hard for us to imagine the horrible misery that characterized the existence of a leper. The classic British Baptist commentator, John Gill, gives us this gruesome description of leprosy as it existed in ancient times:
The symptoms ... are as follow. The patient's voice is hoarse, and comes rather through the nose than the mouth; the blood full of little white shining bodies, like groins of millet, which upon filtration, separate themselves from it. The serum is scabious, and destitute of its natural humidity, insomuch that salt applied to it, does not dissolve; it is so dry, that vinegar poured on it boils; and is so strongly bound together by little imperceptible threads, that calcined lead thrown into it
The face resembles a coal half extinct, unctuous, shining, and bloated, with frequent hard knobs, green at bottom, and white at top. The hair is short, stiff, and brinded; and not to be torn off without bringing away some of the rotten flesh to which it adheres. If it grows again, either on the head or chin, it is always white. [Across] the forehead, run large wrinkles or furrows, from one temple to the other. The eyes [are] red and inflamed, and shine like those of a cat. The ears [are] swollen and red, eaten with ulcers towards the bottom, and encompassed with little glands. The nose [is] sunk, because of the rotting of the cartilage. The tongue [is] dry and black, swollen, ulcerated, divided with furrows, and spotted with grains of white.
The skin [is] covered with ulcers, that die and revive on each other, or with white spots, or scales like a fish. It is rough and insensible, and when cut, instead of blood, yields a sanious liquor. [The skin] arrives in time to such a degree of insensibility, that the wrist, feet, or even the large tendon, may be pierced with a needle without the patient's feeling any pain. At last the nose, fingers, toes, and even privy members, fall off entire; and by a death peculiar to each of them, anticipate that of the patient.
It is added, that the body is so hot, that a fresh apple held in the hand an hour, will be dried and wrinkled, as if exposed to the sun for a week. (Punctuation and paragraphing added.)
This awful description was extracted from many ancient historical sources; and it shows us just how dreadful this disease was. It turned its victim into a miserable monster. Leviticus 13:45-46 says,
Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp (Lev. 13:45-46).
Someone who contracted this disease would become the walking dead. Life would essentially be over for them. Such a person was utterly outcast from society; and could do nothing but walk around in hopelessness like a shadowy ghost - excluded from the relationships and familiar places he once knew. A leper's only hope was that someone might have some compassion on him, and see fit to throw him some food or leave water for him somewhere. No wonder the distinctions of Jew and Samaritan ceased to matter to a leper.
Incidentally, I believe that leprosy is meant to be understood by us as a picture of the terrible, hopeless condition we're in before God because of our sins. Our problem of sin, like leprosy, is something we can't cure ourselves from. Sin, like leprosy, leaves its victim unspeakably miserable. And sin, like leprosy, makes us an outcast from the favor of God. And just as a leper had no hope apart from the mercy of someone else, so neither do we have any hope because of our sins except that God, in His great mercy, would has compassion on us.
We can be thankful that few of us ever suffer physical leprosy. But all of us are born with spiritual leprosy.
Dr. Luke tells us another story about another leper.
... A man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12-13).
Others would run from lepers when they came by, but Jesus welcomed them. Others would throw stones at lepers to drive them away; but Jesus would reach out His hand to touch them and heal them. Jesus is the Friend of lepers.
And Jesus is the Friend of sinners too. No matter what you or I may have done, He will still welcome us to Himself if we'll only come to Him. No matter how filthy and dirty we've made ourselves before Him by our wickedness, He will still reach out, touch us, and cleanse us of our sins if we'll just ask Him.
The Bible tells us that these ten lepers stood at a distance as Jesus passed by, lifted up their voices, and cried out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" They certainly cried out to the right Person.
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It's interesting that these lepers didn't address Jesus as "Lord"; as the leper in that other story did. Nor did they fall down before Him and implore Him, saying, "If You are willing, You can make us clean." Instead, they called out to Him with a somewhat common title of honor - "Master". The word they used literally means, "one who stands by" or "one who is set over". Calling Jesus by this name wasn't much more worshipful an act than if they had simply referred to Jesus as "Your honor". And notice that they cried out to Him from a distance - as if hollering to Him from across the street. On the surface, there didn't seem to be much 'reverence' in their request - certainly not as much, anyway, as in the request of that other leper. It's as if these ten lepers recognized Jesus not for who He was as much as for what He might be able to do for them. Perhaps they heard the rumors about that other leper; and simply wanted the same from Jesus, without giving much regard to His identity. Nevertheless, Jesus responded to them mercifully. But He didn't reach out and touch them. Instead, He simply hollered back, "Go, show yourselves to the priests."
In the Old Testament, the priest served the Jewish community as something like a local "health inspector". If someone suspected that they might have leprosy, they could come to the priest so that he could examine them. If it turned out that, upon examination, the man or woman did indeed have leprosy, the priest would declare them unclean. But the law of Moses also tells us this:
This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing; He shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows - all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean (Lev. 14:2-9).
It was a pretty ceremonial matter, wasn't it? Someone's "cleansing" couldn't be a mere matter of rumor. It was a very official and very public event. The priest was required to be an eyewitness to the fact that this person was, indeed, cured; and he must validate that cleaning with public sacrifice and washings. And perhaps this was important for everyone involved. It was certainly important for the community; because it made everyone come to terms with the fact that the man or woman is a leper no longer; and that he or she should be fully welcomed into the community once again. Perhaps it was important too for the priest, who saw - firsthand - a miracle of God's healing. And it was certainly important for the former leper - perhaps for all the same reasons. What a cause for celebration and worship to God such a cleansing would be!! What a great announcement it was: "He shall be clean"!!
And so, Jesus gave the ten lepers what they asked. He simply told them to go and do what the law says; that is, to go and show themselves to the priests - just as should be done by anyone who had been cleansed of their leprosy.
The only problem was, they weren't cleansed yet! They must have thought to themselves, "Why can't Jesus heal us before sending us to the priest? We're going to look like fools - going to the priest, showing ourselves to him as if cleansed, when we're still covered with leprosy! The priest will only reject us!"
And yet, they went. Perhaps it was because they remembered the story of another famous leper in the Bible - a leper named Naaman. He was a commander of the armies of the king of Syria; a very important man, but one who had contracted the disease of leprosy. He heard about a powerful prophet of the God of Israel - a man named Elisha from Judah. And so, Naaman made the long journey to appear before him.
When Naaman arrived to where Elisha was, the mighty prophet didn't even bother to come out to meet him, but simply sent a messenger to tell him, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be cleansed" (2 Kings 5:10). Naaman went away angry over this. "After all the distance I've travelled to get here, I would have thought that the very least he would do would be to come out, call upon God, and wave his hand over me, or something! Instead he sends somebody to tell me to go jump up and down in a river! Well; we got better rivers back in Syria - I could've jumped up and down in them any time I wanted!"
But Naaman's servant urged him to do what the prophet said. "Boss; if the prophet told you to do something hard, you would have done it; wouldn't you? Why not wash in the Jordan seven times; like he said? It's not that hard a thing to do; and he said that you'd be cleaned if you did." Naaman may have that it was the stupidest thing he'd ever done; but he did it anyway. And just as Elisha promised, God healed him!
These ten lepers were told to go show themselves to the priest - even though they were still covered with leprosy. But perhaps they thought back on that story, and went to the priest as Jesus commanded, with just the same sort of reluctant act of obedience as Naaman. It certainly seemed like a crazy thing to do; but Jesus said to do it, and so off they went. And somewhere in the midst of the journey, as they shuffled painfully on their way to the priest, they began to feel something. They felt the pain suddenly gone. They felt their bodies cool, and the agonizing tightness of their flesh ease. Perhaps one of them looked at his hands, and shouted in surprise to see them healthy and pink. And perhaps when he shouted, he noticed that his voice was no longer hoarse. Can you just imagine these ten lepers laughing, jumping, and feeling one another's hands and faces?
By the way, here's a little aside: When we need something from Jesus, He doesn't always give it to us on our time table. We'd like to have all our needs met before we have to go off and do what He says. But He calls us to obey Him, and trust Him to meet our needs along the way. We want to see Him work before we obey Him; but He wants us to obey before we see Him work. Often, before we see any of the miracles we long for, He calls us to take the first step of faithful obedience. Then, we see His miracles while on the way.
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Just think of it! Ten lepers were now on the road to the priest - all to bear witness of a complete healing from leprosy! It was like a whole leper hospital full of patients suddenly getting cured with one word from Jesus. It would have been something the likes of which the priest had never seen! I expect that - all healed and healthy - these ten men were saying, "This is wonderful! I can't wait to be seen by the priest! I can't wait to get back into life again!"
But there was one of the ten who had even greater thoughts than this on his mind. Perhaps it suddenly dawned upon him who it was that had just healed him. Perhaps he realized that the rumors he had heard about Jesus were really true; that He really was the long awaited Messiah - the very Son of God in human flesh. But why would the Jewish Messiah bother to show mercy to him? - a Samaritan - a despised foreigner; and a leprous one at that!! Why would One so worthy as Jesus show such great mercy to one so unworthy as he? Could it be that the this Jesus loves the rejected and despised people of the world? - that He even loves a leper like him? What other reason could there be than love?
"Hey, guys;" I imagine him suddenly saying, "Let's go back and see Jesus again. He's traveling to Jerusalem; but we haven't gone very far yet. Maybe we can still catch Him and thank Him."
"Why?" they asked. "You already got your healing. He told us to go to the priest. He does this kind of thing all the time anyway; so He doesn't expect thanks for it. He's very busy; and probably doesn't even remember what He did. And besides; He's bound to be long gone by now."
"Look;" said the Samaritan; "You guys can go on ahead if you want to. As for me - well; I can always get looked at by the priest later. But I've got a feeling that I'll always regret it if I don't go see Jesus one more time. I'm going back to Him now!" And so, he runs back to the village as fast as his renewed feet could carry him - leaving nine other men behind him, shaking their heads and thinking, "What a fanatic -!"
Look at how Luke describes this man as he comes to Jesus. Luke says he was glorifying God with a loud voice! I'd bet that a man dressed in torn and tattered leper clothes, running into town like an athlete, and shouting the praises of God with a loud voice, would draw a little attention; don't you? Perhaps he was even running up to people, excitedly asking, "Where is He? Where is Jesus? Is He still here?" Perhaps people were looking at each other and saying, "Who is that guy? Wasn't he one of those lepers that I saw earlier shouting to Jesus? Can't be! But no; look at him! It IS one of the lepers!! What's happened to him?!!"
And when he found Jesus, he fell down with his face before Jesus' feet, in a very obvious display of whole-hearted worship and reverence, thanking Jesus for what He had done.
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This man displayed all this enthusiastic gratitude to Jesus; and it was all because Jesus healed his body of a disease. But dear brother or sister; Jesus has healed you and I of a greater disease than even that! Let me remind you of what the Bible says:
And you He has made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:1-7).
Every day, dear brother or sister, the heavenly Father - who has graciously adopted us, and promised us the full inheritance of His Son Jesus - showers the blessings of His goodness upon us a thousand times over. And He does all this for us in love. He loved us when we were dead in our trespasses and sin - completely unworthy of such love. Who could ever grasp the depth of love Jesus has shown to us? - and continues to show to us?! - and will show to us forever and ever and ever?!! How much more loudly should we be raising our voices to glorify God than that leper! How much more eagerly we should fall at the feet of Jesus than he! How much more frequently He should be hearing thanks from healed spiritual lepers like us!
Please look briefly with me at Jesus' response to this grateful man. His reaction teaches us that He sees our sincere thanks to Him as, first ...
1. AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO GRACE.
Jesus asked, "Where there not ten cleansed? But were are the nine?" (v. 17). He didn't congratulate the man by saying, "Good for this man for coming back to Me. Why; isn't that special! Bless his heart for doing that!" - as if the man had done something remarkable. Instead, He marveled at those who DIDN'T come back - "Where are the nine?" - as if THEY were the ones doing something remarkable.
Now, all of them were cleansed. Every one of them received the same gift of mercy from Jesus. But only one responded to it properly. Only one worshiped Jesus and gave Him thanks. Only one did what all of the others should have done.
Notice also that Jesus asked, "Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" (v. 18). The Samaritan man was bowing with his face at Jesus' feet worshipping Him; and perhaps Jesus had His hand on the man's head. Everyone was watching. It was a very public scene. And with all the attention drawn to the man, Jesus makes the point to all that he was a foreigner - not a Jew, but a despised Samaritan. And yet, not even Jesus' own countrymen - the very ones to whom He had been sent - where displaying the sort of reverence to Him that this "foreigner" displayed.
Here He was - the Jewish Messiah - receiving passive indifference from His own countrymen; but receiving the very worship, adoration and thanks they should have shown Him - yet receiving it from a despised, non-Jewish leper. This man was an outsider with respect to the covenant promises of God. He was an unworthy object of God's grace. But He received mercy and grace, only because he asked. Certainly, Jesus was pointing out how all of this was a rebuke to the Jewish people.
And how about you and I? Did you know that the Bible teaches us that one of the reasons God saves us by His grace is so that we would respond by expressing our thanks and praise Him eternally? Peter writes, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but have now obtained mercy" (1 Peter 1:9-10).
Jesus expected to be thanked for what He did to the lepers. And He is expecting the thanks from pardoned sinners like you and me that He deserves from us. When was the last time you thanked Him? Where is His thanks from you?
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A second thing we learn from Jesus' response to this man is that He sees our thanks as ...
2. AN ESSENTIAL ACT OF WORSHIP.
Jesus asked, "Where there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" (v. 18). And notice that Jesus here describes the essential nature of what thanksgiving really is. He didn't ask, "Where there not any found who returned to give thanks to Me;" but rather, "who returned to give glory to God". Jesus called the man's thanks a matter of giving glory to God.
True "thanksgiving" is really an expression of worship. Thanksgiving isn't merely an "add-on" to worship. It IS worship! Glorifying God and giving Him thanks are two sides of the same worship coin. Paul wrote in the first chapter of Romans that God's wrath is revealed against ungodly people who suppress the revealed truth about Him in unrighteousness; "... because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful ..." (Rom. 1:21). Psalm 50:15 says, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me"; and verse 23 is translated in the New American Standard Bible this way: "He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me."
Dear brother or sister; never forget that we're to glorify God in worship through our thanks to Him. Simply opening our hymn books and singing hymns is not worship! Worship happens when we consider thoughtfully and prayerfully what God has done for us, and then respond appropriately. We do that by thanking Him.
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Finally, a third thing we learn from Jesus' response to this man's thanks is that He sees our thanksgiving as ...
3. AN ACCEPTABLE EXPRESSION OF FAITH.
Jesus apparently had been speaking to the crowd. But now, He turns to the man himself. "Arise, go your way," He says to Him. And here, Jesus was encouraging Him to now get up and go to the priests. In doing so, the man's praise to Jesus would be greatly expanded as others testify to what Jesus did to Him.
But then, Jesus adds this parting comment: "Your faith has made you well" (v. 19). All the lepers were healed, and to some measure, all of them had faith in Jesus' command to go to the priest. But only one had a faith that was publically recognized by Jesus - the one who expressed that faith by returning to say "thank you".
I believe that the man's faith involved more than just his physical healing. The phrase that Jesus uses in His commendation to the man is the same as He used in other notable occasions of healing or mercy. Do you remember, for example, the time the Lord was invited to dinner in the home of a Pharisee; and a sinful woman came in to the place where they were eating and began to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair? Jesus told everyone that she did this out of gratitude to Him for the fact that He had forgiven her sins. Then He sent her away with very same words in the original language as were spoken to the cleansed leper - "Your faith has saved you ..." (Luke 7:50). "Made well" and "saved" are both the same word in the original language.
And then, do you remember the time when a woman who suffered from chronic bleeding for twelve years snuck up behind Jesus in a crowd? She thought, "If I could only touch the hem of His garment, I'll be healed." And she did, and was healed instantly. Jesus sought her out, found her, and tenderly told her - in, again, the same words - "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well" (8:48).
Or again, do you remember the blind beggar who cried out to Jesus for mercy? He was making a big scene as He passed by; and he wouldn't be quiet - even when people tried to hush him up. But Jesus called for him and asked what he wanted. "Lord, that I may receive my sight", was the reply. And Jesus said - once again in the same words - "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well" (Luke 18:42).
Each time, these encounters involved someone who was in desperate need and could only hope in Jesus' mercy. And each time, Jesus let them know that He responded to their faith in Him. And each time, He used a Greek word that can be translated this way: "Your faith has saved you."
The bodies of all ten of those lepers were healed; and as the years rolled by, they all eventually died and left those bodies in the grave. But only one of the ten was told "Your faith has made you well" - or, as it could be translated, "Your faith has saved you". Could it be that this one healed leper from among those ten - this one, marked by an outstanding expression of thanks to Jesus - was exhibiting true saving faith? Could it be that we will see this man in heaven because of this faith in Jesus expressed through his thanks to Him?
We aren't saved merely by the act of giving thanks. Rather, we're saved only by placing our faith in God's grace through Jesus. But could it be that the genuineness of such saving faith is seen through the offering of sincere thanks to Jesus? Could it be that the the demonstration of saving faith that most pleases our Savior is that of giving genuine, sincere thanks to Him for having delivered us from our sins? I believe so.
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Dear brother or sister, so many good things happen to us when we cultivate a life of thanksgiving to God. But let's not forget that God Himself is blessed by our thanks too. This story teaches us how important it is to Jesus Himself that we give thanks to Him. Genuine thanks stands out to Him as an appropriate response to His grace, an essential part of His worship, and an expression of faith that is very acceptable and pleasing to Him.
Where, then, is His thanks from You? Is there a debt of thanks that you owe to Him, but that you have left unpaid? Wouldn't this be a good day to begin paying that debt?
(copyright 2001 by Pastor Greg Allen and Bethany Bible Church. Reproduction without permission, in whole or in part, is prohibited.)
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