Faithlife Sermons

Coming Back to Give Thanks

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Notes & Transcripts

Samuel Valencia, B.A. Biblical Studies


November 23, 2008

Good Shepherd Community Church of El Cajon


Coming Back to Give Thanks


Mark 17:11-19


The topic today is gratitude. Thanksgiving Day is coming up. Thanksgiving Day “[is an] Annual national holiday in the United States for expressing thanks to God, first proclaimed by George Washington in 1789. Lincoln’s proclamation of 1863 made it an annual observance and a 1941 act of the U.S. Congress fixed its observance on the fourth Thursday of November. The original Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims was instituted by Governor William Bradford after the first harvest in Plymouth Colony in 1621.” [1]

Without a doubt the pilgrims had a lot to be thankful for. However, the practice of thanksgiving did not begin with them… Long before the events of Plymouth Colony men have thanked God. As long as people have acknowledged and feared God, there have been grateful hearts thanking Him.

            Did you know that thanksgiving is a theme that runs throughout the whole Bible? In fact Israel set aside seven days for a feast of thanksgiving (Leviticus 23:33-44; Deuteronomy 16:13-17). The Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary states that thankfulness is

…the aspect of praise that gives thanks to God for what He does for us. Ideally, thanksgiving should spring from a grateful heart; but it is required of all believers, regardless of their initial attitude (1 Thess. 5:18). We should be grateful to God for all things (Eph. 5:20; Col. 3:17; 1 Thess. 5:18), but especially for His work of salvation… (Rom. 7:25; Col. 1:3–5; 1 Thess. 1:2–7; 2:13). [2]

Nothing in this world can be compared to what God has given us through Jesus.

Are you a grateful person? Life is precious but undeniably it is full of challenges, issues, and problems… Life offers no plateau... In essence life is what God gives us and what we make of it. We did not pick our place of birth, family to be born in, gender and so on. But we did make the choices that brought us to where we are today… As we take an evaluation of our lives there are certainly things to be thankful for and things not to be thankful for.

Regardless of our attitude about life the Bible teaches us that we should be thankful. Ephesians 5:20 says "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What God has done for you through his son Jesus is the impetus of a grateful heart... O. Chambers stated “...but the thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin… When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God.” [3] We have a lot to be thankful for to God.

Have you thanked God lately? It is time to come back to God with a heart of genuine gratitude and thank Him for what he has done. Today we are going to see a brief story in Luke 17:11-19. This story is about 10 lepers that were healed by Jesus but only one came back to thank Him. Let us take the example of that one grateful healed man that returned to Jesus to give thanks…

I.                  THE CIRCUMSTANCES (Luke 17:11-12)

As Jesus is heading to Jerusalem he meets 10 lepers near the border of Samaria and Galilee. Leprosy was a very serious physical illness.  

A.    Leprosy

There are different types of leprosy… but in general leprosy is a slow progressing and incurable skin disease. Easton’s Bible Dictionary states the following.

Leprosy is a chronic, infectious disease characterized by sores, scabs, and white shining spots beneath the skin… From the skin the disease eats inward to the bones, rotting the whole body [little by little]…” We have the description of the disease, as well as the regulations connected with it, in Lev. 13; 14; Num. 12:10–15, etc…[4]

B.     The life of a leper

A person who acquired leprosy lived a horrible existence. It was bad enough that your physical body rotted slowly away, but even worst “This disease was regarded as an awful punishment from the Lord (2 Kings 5:7; 2 Chr. 26:20). [5] A leper was looked down upon by all his peers since according to tradition God was punishing that person for something…

 Lepers could no longer function in normal society. They “…were required to live outside the camp or city” (Num. 5:1–4; 12:10–15, etc.) … [6] Easton’s Bible Dictionary states that,

“In Christ’s day no leper could live in a walled town, though he might in an open village. But wherever he was he was required to have his outer garment rent as a sign of deep grief, to go bareheaded, and to cover his beard with his mantle, as if in lamentation at his own virtual death. He had further to warn passers-by to keep away from him, by calling out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ Nor could he speak to any one, or receive or return a salutation, since in the East this involves an embrace.” [7]

What a pitiful existence… A leper was shunned by family, society, and in traditions view by God…

Today modern medicine has all but eliminated this disease after learning proper methods of treatment. [8] But during Jesus day the only cure was through a divine miracle. These 10 lepers needed a miracle…

II.               THE CRY (Luke 17:13)

The type of leprosy that these 10 men had was serious since they had to call out to Jesus from a distance. They were not allowed to approach…

There is no doubt that these lepers had heard of Jesus... The news about Jesus had spread all over the area. Mark 1:28 says that Jesus "…fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee." How long had these lepers waited for Jesus to go by their area? On that day when they saw the commotion in the area they knew something was up. Jesus was going by. This was their golden opportunity… 

A. Call Out to Jesus

Have you called out to Jesus?

What is the situation in your life? Are you trying to find relief for your ordeals in all the wrong places? The solutions available to us in our culture can only solve our ordeals up to a certain extent. Our main problem is the sin that separates us from God our Creator. If we want to fix the root of the problem we have to call out to Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The best thing you can do is call out to Jesus.

III.           THE COMMAND (Luke 17:14a)

This must have been an intense moment for the lepers. By now they knew that their lot in life was rejection because of their awful decease. Was Jesus going to ignore them as well? No! Jesus took note of them and gave them a command. They were told to go and see the priests. According to Jewish Law the priests were the ones responsible to diagnose leprosy (Leviticus 13:2-14:32).

It is interesting to note that the ten lepers obeyed Jesus. They did not argue with him. They trusted Jesus… This is a good lesson for us to learn. It is God’s way, not our way.

What if one of the lepers had started arguing with Jesus? It would have sounded something like this, “Jesus, before I go anywhere I want you to heal me right now!”… It seems foolish doesn’t it? But isn’t that what we do! We want God to do things our way, in our time table, at our leisure, and for our own convenience and comfort… No! God is not our lucky charm or jinni in a bottle we can call upon only when we want a wish granted. He is God and we are His creation. His command supersedes all our wants. It is God’s way not our way.

An illustration to this point is today’s popular culture view of God. Popular culture teaches that there are many paths to God. Yet God’s revelation (His Word/The Bible) clearly teaches that there is only one way. In John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." We ought to learn from these lepers that when God says to do something we ought to do it because that is the right way. Obviously the lepers did the right thing in obeying Jesus because they experienced a miracle.

IV.           THE MIRACLE (Luke 17:14b)

As the ten lepers made their way to the priests… something extraordinary happened. They were healed! The sores, scabs, and white shining spots all over their body vanished. All the rotten flesh in them was restored to healthy flesh. What an incredible event…

Can you imagine how they felt? Their minds were racing with emotions… Now they could go back into society, back to their families… They were no longer going to be looked down upon as those who were being punished by God. Without a doubt they had experienced a divine miracle. The world of hopelessness they lived in had turned into a bright day of hope…

They had a new beginning…

V.               THE RESPONSE (Luke 17:15-19)

All ten lepers were healed but only one came back in gratitude to thank Jesus… The Bible Exposition Commentary states,

You would have expected all these ten men to run back 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 they did not… Only one came back]

     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. [9]

The other 9 healed lepers just left… Jesus himself asked “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?" (Luke 17:17) Jesus knew where the nine where, but He wanted to point out to those around that God honors a thankful heart. The one healed leper that came back received even more blessing from Jesus… The other nine missed out.


So have you thanked God lately? We have a lot to learn from this one healed leper in the account of Luke 17:11-19. It is time that we too come back to God with a heart of genuine gratitude and thank Him for what he has done.

Are you feeling thankful this year? Everywhere you look, you see the signs of thanksgiving approaching... But are you seeing signs of Thanksgiving in your life? Think about it. Did you know that the word THANK comes from the root word THINK.[10] Think about what God has given you that you may thank Him... And what if you aren't feeling very grateful this year? You might be aching over the loss of a loved one, dealing with sickness, loss of your job, or just struggling in life... As long as there is life there is something to be thankful for.

Sometimes we think that the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims was perfect. It was not. When the Pilgrims celebrated that first thanksgiving in 1621 they were doing what came naturally for them: honoring God in the daily course of events. But the reality of their situation was that many had perished, food was scarce, some of their Indian neighbors were hostile, and many other obstacles had to be overcome… All of that did not stop them from coming before God to give thanks… they were grateful for what God had done for them despite the problems and challenges of life.  

You cannot wait until everything is perfect in your life to have a heart of gratitude.

Have you ever heard the hymn, Now Thank We All Our God?  It is one of the greatest hymns expressing gratitude towards God. Yet, it was written in the midst of pain and suffering. One commentator states “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.” [11]

Remember that the thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human heart is the realization that God loves us and has provided forgiveness of our sins through His son Jesus Christ.  When we realize all that it cost God to forgive us, we will [have a grateful heart] anxious to give thanks to God.

            This Thanksgiving holiday be like that healed leper and come back to give thanks to God. L.O. Richards asks “What will move us to stay close to Jesus? …A spirit of praise and thankfulness that keeps us ever mindful of all Jesus has done to heal us from the deadly disease of sin.” [12] God Bless you.


[1]Kurian, G. T. (2001). Nelson's new Christian dictionary : The authoritative resource on the Christian world. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs.

[2]Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.

[3] Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (November 20). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers

[4]Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.




[8]Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.

[9] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Lk 17:11). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[10] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Eph 5:20). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[11] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Lk 17:11). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[12]Richards, L. O. (1991; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996). The Bible readers companion (electronic ed.) (668). Wheaton: Victor Books.

Related Media
Related Sermons