In Luke 17, Jesus passes through Samaria and Galilee on His way to Jerusalem. When He entered a village, 10 lepers called out to Him from a distance (as required by the Law). They were seeking mercy and healing from Jesus. Luke writes, “When He saw them He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:14-17, ESV).
Jesus asked a great question. Here were these that had the worst of all diseases, leprosy. They not only suffered great physical agony but they were emotionally damaged as well. Because leprosy was consider highly contagious, they were not allowed to be a part of society, but instead were confined to colonies with other lepers. They probably rarely if ever saw their families. It would have been an awful existence. Yet despite this, when Jesus healed the ten, only one saw fit to come back and thank Him. How could that possibly be?
Charles L. Brown suggested nine reasons why the others did not come back:
One waited to see if the cure was real.
One waited to see if it would last.
One said he would see Jesus later.
One decided that he had never had leprosy.
One said he would have gotten well anyway.
One gave the glory to the priests.
One said, “O, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything.”
One said, “Any rabbi could have done it.”
One said, “I was already much improved.”
Of course, Jesus did much more for us than merely heal us of a disease: Jesus took away our eternal punishment by purchasing our freedom from the slavery of sin (Ephesians 1:7). He is our only hope: without Jesus our lives would have no meaning or purpose whatsoever. Therefore, it is only natural that we constantly thank Him for all He has done for us.
Last Sunday night we looked at Paul’s letter to the Colossians and I challenged the congregation to read Colossians 3 several times this week. If you accept that challenge then you will read these words from the inspired apostle, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17, ESV).
Paul hits on an important point: if we are truly thankful – and we should be – we will do more than say the words! Instead, ALL we do, in word and deed, we will do in the name of Jesus! In other words, we will show our thanksgiving, not just speak it.
I pray that this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, we all take the time to remember acknowledge and thank Him from whom all blessings flow. In fact, as Paul said, such an attitude of gratitude should be at the center of our very existence.