Find Your Thanksgiving

November 24, 2021

Pastor John Hering

Luke 17:11-19

Luke 17:11-19

11 On another occasion, as Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he was passing along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 When he entered a certain village, ten men with leprosy met him. Standing at a distance, 13 they called out loudly, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they went away they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus responded, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has saved you.”

Someone holds the door open for you as you entered church and you say, “Thank you.”  You go through the Starbucks drive thru and a stranger hands you a cup a coffee and you say, “Thank you,” even though you just paid to have them make it for you.  You go to the Dallas Arboretum to enjoy a great day with your family and grandkids and someone catches your child to keep them from falling to the ground and you say, “Thank you.”  Or you didn’t take very good notes during the class and now it’s time for the finals and a friends says, “No problem, I’ll share my notes with you,” and you say, “Thank you.”  You’re driving along when your spouse says, “Look out!” and after slamming on your brakes you say, “Thank you.”  You say “Thank you” for birthday presents and Christmas cards.  You thank people who helped support you at graduations and weddings. You thank people who are praying for you during difficult times.  You thank people who send you cards that you didn’t expect, or contained a gift that was way beyond what you ever expected to receive and you say, “Thank you.”  During those difficult days someone unexpectedly reached out and said, “You know, you’re really a nice person” and you say, “Thank you” when you thought you were all alone.  There are also the “I can’t thank you enough” Thank yous from child to their parents at graduation, from the oncologist at checkup he says, “Your cancer is in remission.  You’re cancer free!” or to a spouse after 30, 40 or 50 years of marriage and you say, “I can’t thank you enough.”

You’re here to give special thanks to Jesus.  This past year we’ve learned about lots of people in the Bible that gave thanks to him. The wedding couple who ran out of wine and Jesus replenished the supply; or the disciples who thought they were going to drown and Jesus calmed the wind and the waves; or the 5000 people Jesus fed with a couple of fish and loaves of bread; or Mary and Martha after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  In all these occasions there is a relationship between expectations, faith and thankfulness.

Let’s talk about thankfulness for just a minute: Where do “Thank yous” come from?  First, there is usually a gift involved.  It also means there is someone who is receiving the gift.  We try to teach our children from early on to thank people when they get a gift.  We remind them that money doesn’t grow on trees and neither do birthday and Christmas gifts.  Yes, we get gifts, but that always means there is a source for those gifts, a giver of those gifts.  And that’s what makes a variety of “Thank you” levels.  When you get a gift there is a relationship established between the giver and the receiver.  When a stranger holds open a door or a friend sends you a card or even a text you realize they didn’t have to do that and so you say, “Thank you” because you realize they didn’t have to do that.  Thanks for stopping by, thanks for your time, thanks for your effort, thank you.  Even our nation recognizes the importance of saying “Thank you” by creating this national day of giving thanks.

But, you’re in God’s house because of God, you realize this a day of a special, different kind of thanks.  Not the kind that is thoughtless, or comes and goes, but is based on God’s grace.  And you know that God’s grace is so huge, so awesome, so amazing and constant….. Ut oh!  When something becomes so constant you know the danger!  It means we could easily become complacent, even expecting it.  So, if you have ever come to this Thanksgiving Day and felt hypocritical for not giving regularly and earnestly giving thanks to the Lord, if you haven’t been on your game recently with a heart of gratitude, then learn from this account of the leper’s interaction with Jesus and

Find Your Thanksgiving

The What

The account of the 10 lepers starts out letting us know what going on in the life of Jesus. 11 On another occasion, as Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he was passing along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  This is huge!  Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and reminds us of the big picture.  Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to make the biggest gift imaginable for all mankind.  Jesus, the Son of God is entering Jerusalem to offer his powerful, precious blood on the cross for everyone in the world.  Jesus, the Son of Man is entering Jerusalem to offer his perfect, human blood on the cross as the perfect payment for sins that his Father demanded.  Jesus is the Giver of the Gift!  His perfect life for your imperfect life.  His perfect death for the payment for your earthly death.  You’re the gift getter! What Jesus did for us puts a spark in the Church that sings, “Crown Him with Many Crowns!” and Give thank to the Lord, for his love endures forever! With this little note by St Luke we are on the edge of our seats ready to hear the account of our salvation all over again!

But, do the lepers know that?  I don’t think they did, especially the Samaritan Leper!  It’s time for him to Find His What Thanksgiving is All About!  Since we’re talking about the Samaritan Leper, let’s talk about him a second. He may not have known Jesus was his Savior from sin, but he sure seems to know that Jesus heals disease—even incurable diseases like leprosy.   12 When he entered a certain village, ten men with leprosy met him. Standing at a distance, 13 they called out loudly, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!  You know lepers were under quarantine and kept their respectful distance from Jesus.  But, WHAT did they know?  They shouted loudly for they knew Jesus was able to be the Giver of a Great Gift!  But, like all people who give gifts, Jesus didn’t have to give this gift of healing.  What would he do?

The anti was raised for at least one of the lepers.  Luke is sure to make this point twice.  First, he says about one of the lepers, he was a Samaritan,” and again at the end Jesus says, “Was no one found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?“ We recognize the point: The Jews despised the Samaritans for being of mixed race and because the Samaritans mixed worship of God with outward worship of false gods.  To a Jew, this Samaritan leper was not just contagious for his leprosy, but also had religious cooties that you should stay away from. St Paul was inspired to write this: It is rare indeed that someone will die for a righteous person. Perhaps someone might actually go so far as to die for a person who has been good to him.” (Rom 5:7). This Samaritan leper knew WHAT he wanted, but he also knew WHAT the situation was.  But, desperation reigns when any hope to receive an amazing gift is on thin ice!

Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! They thought they knew WHAT they wanted Jesus to do—would he have pity on them and heal them?  You can almost hear their desperation!  They had a disease that would leave you dead in 10 or 20 years of slowly wasting away.  Jesus was not just their hope, they knew exactly WHAT Jesus was—their only hope to be cured and live.  This was their chance.  Yet, they had no money, not reason this stranger should even hold the door open for them, let alone heal them.  They knew WHAT they had, it was all they had—to rely on nothing but Jesus’ pity.  And based on the WHAT—Jesus’ pity, compassion, and mercy they were healed.  And listen to what Jesus did. 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they went away they were cleansed.  They received WHAT?  A miraculous gift.  But, the question remained, would they Find the Greater Gift that they were desperately needing to Give Meaningful Thanksgiving?  They thought their WHAT was healing from leprosy, but failed to understand the bigger WHAT – forgiveness and salvation for their souls.  And what level of thanks would it be? A Big Thanks for the healing? Or An “I can’t thank you enough” intensely sincere Thanks for their eternal life?  Or sadly, not even a casual thanks.  Dear friends, just knowing WHAT they received wasn’t all that mattered.  In the same way, just thinking about the blessings of this world on Thanksgiving will probably produce in us little thanks, or at best a casual thanks.  Therefore, just like those lepers, in order to Find God-pleasing Thanks let us recognize how important it is for us To Find Our Thanks in

The Why

The obvious miracle of this account is Jesus’ healing 10 lepers.  Jesus gave the word and off to the priests they go.  All of their skin was restored from head to foot—a good enough reason WHY they should give thanks to Jesus.  But, and the Samaritan’s feet walked with them.  But, as his flesh was restored another miracle was taking place that wasn’t so obvious to the eye.  15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan. Do you suppose he came to realize that he didn’t just have a cure for the skin that day.  He had Jesus—the Giver of the Greatest Gifts!  Frist, Jesus the Jew gave this amazing gift of healing to the Samaritan without favoritism.  God also had created the “WHY” in his heart.  Jesus said, Then he said to him, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has saved you. The Holy Spirit had created faith in the heart of this Samaritan to receive what Jesus had to offer.  Imagine you were the Samaritan a second.  Have you ever heard a Jew praise the faith of a Samaritan before? 

This shouldn’t surprise us. You know the rest of St Paul’s passage But God shows his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).”  Luke records at least three other times Jesus had mercy and pity on people in the Gospels and said to people, Your faith has saved you.  He says it to people who least expected it (The prostitute in Simon’s house, the women who touched Jesus’ garment, blind Bartimaeus).  They all received miraculous healings and we learn WHY—they all had Jesus!   So, the Samaritan Leper found a Spirit-led reason WHY to give thanks.  It was not just for his cure, he was grateful and praised God because he had Jesus his Savior.

Before we leave this account, there was another question Jesus’ asked that invades our hearts.  17 Jesus responded, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?  Jesus knew all 10 were healed.  He knew where the other nine were.  His question points out their sin and their shame.  The same question could be asked of us every time we forget to have an attitude of thanks to the Lord God.  We all know the excuses.  We forget.  We take our blessings for granted.  We become so blessed that we spend all our time trying to take care of all our blessings rather than thanking the Giver of our blessings. 

I used to feel so hypocritical on Thanksgiving Day.  You know, show up and say, “Thanks God” with a the attitude of about a 4 or 5.  But, then I learned WHY we can give thanks with a perfect 10!  Because what we can’t do, Jesus did for us!  Jesus always gave his Father in heaven a perfect Thank you, a perfect life, a perfect faith, a perfect Substitute for you and me!  So, today we CAN FIND OUR PERFEACT THANKSGIVING TO GOD!  WHY?  BECAUSE WE HAVE JESUS!

Therefore it is good to have a day when we can gather in God’s House to give him special thanks because YOU HAVE FOUND THE REASON FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING in the WHAT and the WHY.  We know how sin ruins our lives, and how God’s grace went to work to save our souls.  That is the message that causes us to repent of our sins, yes, even the sin of forgetting to give thanks to the Lord, and to hear the voice of Jesus say, “Go in peace.  Your sins are forgiven.” 

There are so many occasion when we say, “Thank you.”  For what? Open doors, cups of coffee, turkey dinners, cards and gifts and above all, our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  Why?  Let’s be on our game often to thank those through whom we are so blessed because we have Jesus.  When you recognize the WHAT—all our blessings from God, and when you recognize the WHY—because we have Jesus, Then you’ll have everything you need to Find Your Thanksgiving very satisfying TODAY AND EVERY DAY.  Amen.

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