Untitled Sermon (2)
Thankfulness (Luke 17:11–19)
Between Luke 17:10 and 11, the events of John 11 occurred as the Lord Jesus made His way to Jerusalem. At the border of Samaria and Judea, Jesus healed ten lepers at one time, and the fact that the miracle involved a Samaritan made it even more significant (see Luke 10:30–37). Jesus used this event to teach a lesson about gratitude to God.
The account begins with ten unclean men (Luke 17:11–13), all of whom were lepers (see the comments on Luke 5:12–15). The Jews and Samaritans would not normally live together, but misery loves company and all ten were outcasts. What difference does birth make if you are experiencing a living death? But these men had hope, for Jesus was there, and they cried out for mercy. The word translated “master” is the same one Peter used (Luke 5:5) and means “chief commander.” They knew that Jesus was totally in command of even disease and death, and they trusted Him to help them.
The account continues by referring to nine ungrateful men (Luke 17:17). Jesus commanded the men to go show themselves to the priest, which in itself was an act of faith, for they had not yet been cured. When they turned to obey, they were completely healed, for their obedience was evidence of their faith (see 2 Kings 5:1–14).
You would have expected all ten men to run to Jesus and thank Him for a new start in life, but only one did so—and he was not even a Jew. How grateful the men should have been for the providence of God that brought Jesus into their area, for the love that caused Him to pay attention to them and their need, and for the grace and power of God that brought about their healing. They should have formed an impromptu men’s chorus and sung Psalm 103 together!
But before we judge them too harshly, what is our own “GQ”—“Gratitude Quotient”? How often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord? “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps. 107:8, 15, 21, 31) Too often we are content to enjoy the gift but we forget the Giver. We are quick to pray but slow to praise.
The next time you sing “Now Thank We All Our God,” try to remember that Martin Rinkhart wrote it during the Thirty Years’ War when his pastoral duties were most difficult. He conducted as many as forty funerals a day, including that of his own wife; yet he wrote those beautiful words as a table grace for his family. In spite of war and plague around him and sorrow within him, he was able to give thanks to the Lord from a grateful heart.
Luke’s account closes with one unusual man (Luke 17:15–19). The Samaritan shouted “Glory to God!” and fell at Jesus’ feet to praise Him and give thanks. It would have been logical for him to have followed the other men and gone to the temple, but he first came to the Lord Jesus with his sacrifice of praise (Ps. 107:22; Heb. 13:15). This pleased the Lord more than all the sacrifices the other men offered, even though they were obeying the Law (Ps. 51:15–17). Instead of going to the priest, the Samaritan became a priest, and he built his altar at the feet of Jesus (read Ps. 116:12–19).
By coming to Jesus, the man received something greater than physical healing: he was also saved from his sins. Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you” (literal translation), the same words He spoke to the repentant woman who anointed His feet (Luke 7:50). The Samaritan’s nine friends were declared clean by the priest, but he was declared saved by the Son of God! While it is wonderful to experience the miracle of physical healing, it is even more wonderful to experience the miracle of eternal salvation.
Every child of God should cultivate the grace of gratitude. It not only opens the heart to further blessings but glorifies and pleases the Father. An unthankful heart is fertile soil for all kinds of sins (Rom. 1:21ff).