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Thanksgiving lepper

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If you want to read along, we’re going to be in Luke 17 tonight. Luke is the third gospel that we have, so in the New Testament it goes Matthew, Mark, and then Luke and we’ll be in chapter 17.
So there are two types of people in this world. People who are serious about not putting their Christmas tree up too early and people who don’t care what others think about them.
How many of you fall into the “It’s not going up until after Thanksgiving” group?
How many of you want to put the tree up as soon as you possibly can?
Yeah? I usally wait until after Thanksgiving, but this year I was just in the Christmas spirit and now we’ve got stockings on our wall and we’ve got the tree up and it’s starting to look very festive in the Sosh household.
But Thanksgiving is right around the corner and before too long you’re going to be seeing Christmas trees popping up around the Church whether you like it or not, but next week is Thanksgiving which means we won’t be meeting here next Wednesday, but I was thinking about Thanksgiving and how much we have to be thankful for and I realized how little we actually thank God for what he’s done in our life.
So let’s just read through this story together and then start to break it down a little bit and then I think we can learn a few things about being thankful, not just once a year though, but with our entire life.
Luke 17:11-19
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
So here’s the deal, the whole picture that is being painted here is not just Jesus healing people. There is a picture here of what Jesus does for all of humanity. Just like these men we read about are plagued by a disease, so are we plagued by sin, but when it comes down to it only one of the lepers came back and gave thanks to Jesus.
Now on His way to Jerusalem,--- Luke uses this phrase a lot throughout his gospel. Lukes goal in writing is to lay out a historical account of Jesus life- from birth, life, death, and resurrection and he uses that phrase a few times throughout and its like he’s trying to remind us that while Jesus was ministering, He was always working His way to the cross. That was his final destination and wherever He went, He was just passing through on His way to the cross.
So that’s the idea that Luke wants us to remember, that Jesus is on His way to die on the cross and
Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
They stood at a distance from Jesus.- So in their time, leprosy wasn’t fully understood yet. In America, we have treatments for it and if we get it it’s not that big of a deal because of the medical access we have.
Now there are some places where this is still an issue and people are fighting this disease and it can be a much more serious issue for people
But here in America people really only contract leprosy if they try to catch an armadillo. Armadillos carry leprosy, so if you see one don’t, under any circumstances, try to catch it. I found that out fairly quickly in Texas. Even if they didn’t carry leprosy, you’re gonna want to stay away from these things. They’ve got some crazy claws and the teeth on these guys are mean, but anyways leprosy
In the times that we’re reading about, these people didn’t have a cure for it at all and leprosy starts out as a skin disease and it ends up effecting your nerves and you start to ooze and you lose feelings in certain parts of your body and sometimes people will lose parts of their body, they just fall off. It’s a nasty and contagious disease. You can spread it to other people so what they did in this time was take the people who had leprosy and throw them out of their camp, they would basically exile them, and they would do this until they knew the leprosy was gone.
So they were standing at a distance from Jesus, because they weren’t allowed to be close to people. You were required to keep 50 yards away from people at all times. You thought the six foot rule was dumb. The only people that a lepper was allowed to be around were other leppers. If someone was approaching a lepper or a group of leppers they were required to bow their heads, ring a bell, and yell out “UNLCEAN! UNCLEAN!”
And I say they were required to do this, because if they didn’t and got caught, the community would come together and stone that person to death.
If you were a lepper you were considered to be a health hazard beyond belief.
They were also considered to be religiously unclean. You were not welcomed in the synagogue’s you were not welcomed in worship. The moment you were found out to be a leper, your entire life changed.
If you were a father and then contracted leprosy- you would likely never see your children again.
It was more likely to catch leprosy as a man than as a woman, but if you were a wife and contracted leprosy- there’s a good chance you would never see your husband again.
You’d probably never get to hug your family members again.
You’d never talk to your brother or your sister again.
Your friends were gone. Everything changed.
These men had been outside of the city for who knows how long. No contact with their faith community. No contact with others. The only way they were fed was by scrounging around for some scraps. Unless they were lucky enough to have a family member bring them food.
And even then they would come outside the gates of the city, lay food on the ground and then back away. Then you could come up and grab whatever was laid out for you.
Whenever you found out you were a lepper, you were basically learning that you were sentenced to death. There was no cure for their illness, and they knew death was coming. But you also immediately experiences a cultural and social death as well. Immediately, you would have been thrown out of society.
So this is what these guys are living through. This is their life, and when these 10 guys meet Jesus, they stand at a distance and call out.
“Jesus. Master. Have pity on us.”
They immediately knew that they needed Jesus. They needed a new master.
In their current situation, they are a slave to their disease and to the law.
They needed a new master and they needed pity or mercy. Depending on what translation you have. I personally think that mercy works better here, but the message is the same- These men need Jesus.
In the same way these people needed a new master, we need a new master. They were slaves to their illness and to the law that exiled them. We are slaves to our sin and all of us need a new master, full of mercy.
I was thinking the other day about this and how these men didn’t just wake up with their entire body afflicted by this disease.
Leprosy is a disease that starts out small. Say one sore. That spreads to two sores and before you know it- your limbs are starting to deform and your entire body is effected by this disease. I won’t get into all the details of it, but it is an awful disease that takes over you’re entire body.
In the same way our sins will start out small and start to grow and before we know it, we are slaves to our sins.
We kid ourselves by thinking “oh this is just a small sin. This is nothing to worry about, it’s not a big deal.” But just like leprosy grows, sin will too. Nobody wakes up one day and decides to be go from a life of holiness, straight into a life of sin. We start off with a small sin and then it grows and it grows and before we know it, it has consumed our life and we’re in a place we never thought we would be. We all need Jesus to be our master.
These ten men needed Jesus, just like we do, and they call out to Him, and-
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
Listen… you didn’t have to look at someone long to know if they had leprosy or not. It was very obvious. They had sores all over their body. Their limbs would start to become disfigured. Sometimes they would even fall off. Their skin would ooze puss. You didn’t really have to wonder if someone had it or not. And Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests, because that was the only way they would be welcomed back into their community, if they saw the priest and they were considered clean again.
They could only go and hug their families once they had been deemed clean again if the priest said so.
They could only go back to their places of worship once they had seen the priest and been considered clean.
And I actually love this part
And as they went, they were cleansed.
Could you imagine? With every step you take, your disease starts to go away? The closer you get to the priest. The closer you get to this holy place, your illness begins to disappear? WIth every step closer, you started to feel better? You start to realize that you can see your family again? That you can hug your Mom? That you could talk to your friends? That you weren’t identified by your shame any longer, but you were going to be seen as a person?
But I guess that as they got closer to the priest, most of them started to forgot who it was that had healed them, because out of the ten only-
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Now.. Jesus wasn’t just asking a question here. As if He didn’t know, no Jesus is expressing frustration here. He heals ten leppers and only one of them comes back to thank him. He is frustrated with the others who had not come back to Him.
The good thing is that Jesus was frustrated with them, right? Not us?
No. That is us. How many times do we live our lives without thanking Jesus.
How much longer are our prayer requests than our praise reports? Should we not be thanking Jesus for what He is doing in our life? Of course we should, but often times we just live in the blessings without thanking the one who blessed us.
I’ll be honest with you.. I wonder if I would’ve been the one who came back to Jesus, or if I would have rushed home to see my family. To hug my wife. Heck- to see my dog again. Would I have thought first and foremost to thank God and then run home? But one of them did and
19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
One had faith that made him well and nine had a faith that frustrated Jesus.
They all had faith that Jesus could heal them. They all walked to the priests and as they walked the sores on their skin began to heal and all of them received healing from Jesus. All of them had MULTIPLE reasons to be grateful. But one of them. Only one of them returned to Jesus and gave thanks to Him.
The same reasons that this lepper has for being thankful are the same reasons that we have for being thankful.
1. Jesus sees us when no one else does
These men were connected through their pain. Their illness. A community of hurt. Exiled and looked down upon. Jesus was not the only person to pass by these people. A very large religious festival was about to start and people were starting to gather and there is a very good chance that many people had already walked pass these people.
These people who were shouting out their disease. Could you imagine being forced to scream out the one thing that you were ashamed about? The one sin that you hate the most? Finding your identify in that and constantly being ignored because of it?
Thats what they were doing, nobody acknowledging them... You know the same thing you do when there’s a homeless person on the corner? Or someone asking for money on the side of the road? Just pretending like you don’t see that person there? Then Jesus comes along. The first person in ages to acknowledge them as people.
That’s what the majority of people need, you know? I’ve worked with saint benidicts homeless shelter here in Owensboro, and because of my security job that I had when I lived in Texas, I spent a lot of time around the homeless community and I found out very quickly that their greatest need, is the need to feel like a person.
Sometimes the immediate need is food or a jacket, but the long term issue that people were having? Nobody viewed them as people. They viewed them as menaces to society. They’re avoided, looked down upon, judged, yelled at. It’s like someone looses their place to sleep and everyone forgets that they’re people too.
They lost their material possesions and everyone forgot that they were just people too.
That’s what it was like for these men too, but Jesus looks at them and see’s them in their pain.
Jesus always draws close to those who are hurting. He is the source of hope and he draws close to the brokenhearted and provides us with hope! So know if you are hurting tonight- Jesus see’s you and He see’s your pain and He is going to walk with you through your pain.
2. Obeying Jesus brings peace and joy
Notice that these men weren’t healed and then told to go to the priest. They asked to be healed and Jesus says “Go to the priest!” This is kind of backwards because you wouldn’t go to the priest and ask him to look you over if you hadn’t been healed yet. If you wanted to be brought back into society, you wouldn’t go to the priest unless you were sure you were clean.
But they go to the priest and AS THEY GO they are healed.
In the ten leppers situation, as they obeyed Jesus, they found joy and peace through obeying Him.
The Bible is clear in it’s teaching of obedience bringing blessings. Whenever we obey the commands of Christ, we experience Him more deeply and we are blessed with peace. We are blessed with joy. We are blessed with His presence and that is always a reason to be thankful
They had to take a step of faith though. Remember, they weren’t healed until they started to walk. Most of the time those steps don’t make sense to us, I mean think about Moses and the Red sea. Moses had people behind him that were coming to slaughter him and in front of him, he had the sea. He cries out to God and God says alright Moses this is how you are going to save your life as well as all the people that are following you… you ready? Raise your staff in the air and I’ll take care of the rest.
Boy what??? Are you sure there’s not just a place around here to hide? Or maybe there’s some horses around the corner that we can hop on and out run these guys?
But its at that moment when God begins to move in our life.
I think that we can kind of relate to all of these leppers though. Its easy for us to depend on Christ when He’s the only thing that’s there.
Real quick math test- Out of all 10 of the leppers, how many of them had enough faith to step out in faith and go see the priest? All ten?
Now how many of them had enough faith to come to Christ when they weren’t at the end of their rope? One. And Jesus said that his faith had made him well. I think that the lepper who came back realized something that the others didn’t.
I think that he knew that
3. Jesus is our prize
The real prize is the healer, not the healing.
Psalm 107:20–22 KJV 1900
He sent his word, and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, And for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare his works with rejoicing.
When Jesus comes into our life, the only appropriate response is like that of the one lepper. To come back to Jesus, to throw ourselves down at His feet and thank Him.
I wonder if there were other people on the road who say this happening. Did they think he was being dramatic? Or over the top? Or just putting on a show? I doubt that the man cared what anyone else thought. He understood what Jesus did had done and his natural response was to come and thank Jesus for who He is. And if someone were to ask him, “Why are you acting this way? Why are you being so over the top?” I think he would look at you and just say “Man, if you knew what Jesus has done for me… If you knew who He is… If you only knew what a great thing He has done for me.. you would do the same.”
For us, we should be known for being a thankful people. We read about people who Jesus would heal and then He would have to tell them NOT to tell people about Him.
When people understand how great Jesus is and what He’s done for them, they naturally want to tell others, they naturally want to give thanks, it’s not something they want to keep to themselves! They being to live a life of thankfulness
Sometimes people will see you worshiping and raising your hands and crying out to God and serving Him with everything we have, and they’ll see you living like this and think, “That’s a little overkill. That’s a little much, don’t ya think?” But man… if you understood what He’s done for me. You’d understand why I live the way I live.
The band can make their way back up.
We should be living a life of gratitude and I think that when we really look at this story, we see how to do that.
We see that
1-Gratitude starts with brokeness.
The first step in really living in gratitude is to understand that we cannot function on day-to- day basis on our own abilities. We are in desperate need of someone stepping in and helping carry us through.
2-Jesus is the only answer to our brokeness
All of us have one major problem we need to deal with. We can use a bunch of different words to describe it, but ultimately we all have some sort of brokenness that needs to be fixed. The only tool that can fix your brokenness is Jesus.
3-The healing of our brokeness should bring gratitude
Whatever your situation, Jesus loves you and wants to heal your brokenness. After He does so, you should live a life of gratitude because of how great your Savior is. Because of Jesus’ power and desire to heal our brokenness, we should accept that healing and, like the one lepper who returned, praise Him for doing so.
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