Summary: We can follow the example of the one leper who returned to thank Jesus to help us this Thanksgiving to offer proper thanks to God and to be a person with a thankful heart.
THANKSGIVING 2003: A THANKFUL HEART
Governor Bradford made the following proclamation in 1623, 3 years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth;
To all ye Pilgrims,
Inasmuch as the great father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the raids of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving t ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
We know in Scripture that the response for blessing is thanks. David praised God when the temple site was dedicated in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:13), “Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.” It was God who blessed the army of Israel under David and made the nation possible. The building of the temple by Solomon would mean without a doubt that God had kept His promise to Abraham… and David thanked Him. Daniel praised God for helping him understand the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. It was God that gave him insight and wisdom and he told God the same (Daniel 2:23), “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, For You have given me wisdom and power; Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, For You have made known to us the king’s matter.” We also find the prophet Jonah thanking God for His provision while in the belly of the whale. Jonah said (Jonah 2:9), “But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD” and then the whale spit him up onto dry ground.
READ LUKE 17:11-19 = “11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" 14When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan.
17Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
This is one of those stories in Scripture that we know from Sunday School. It is an important passage about the attitude of thanks and the attitude of ungratefulness. What we know of course, and what is quite significant, is that out of the ten lepers who were healed, only one returned to say thank you. There were nine who did not make the time or effort to say thank you to the one who had healed them.
ILLUSTRATION… from Charles Brown
Why did the other nine never return to give thanks? Keep in mind that these are only suggestions, but they reveal a whole lot about human nature:
* 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."
All throughout Scripture we find the people of God thanking Him for the blessings, discipline, power, strength, and love in their life. It is what is expected. Yet, ten lepers who were healed, only one returned to say thank you.
I. THE SITUATION OF THE LEPERS
These ten men were outcasts of their society. No one wanted to hang out with them for fear of catching the skin disease they had. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long they had been lepers, but however long it was they were fed up and wanted healing. They were probably in pain. They were disfigured. They probably heard Jesus was in the area and knew that He could help them. They called Him ‘Master” and so must have had some faith about His power or Who He was. They needed help and healing.