THE LEPER’S THANKSGIVING
1. A family sat down to Thanksgiving dinner. The eight year old boy asked if he could say “the blessing.” Everyone bowed their heads.
2. He said, “I’m thankful for Mom who cooked the turkey, for father who bought the turkey, for the people at the store where we bought it. I’m thankful for the people on the farm who raised the turkey and for the trucks that carried the turkey to our store.” He paused and said, “Did I leave anybody out?”
3. His 5 year-old brother, impatient to eat, said, “You left out God!” The eight year old replied, “I was about to get to Him!”
4. This points out our own forgetfulness; “Are we going to get to Him this Thanksgiving?
B. HUMOR #2
1. A farmer and an intellectual decided to share the same table at a restaurant, due to crowding. The farmer prayed over his food quietly. The intellectual afterward berated him with being ignorant and superstitious.
2. The farmer did admit that some in his family did not pray. The intellectual replied, “They must be enlightened and progressive! Which family members are they?”
3. The farmer replied, “My pigs!”
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 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.”
D. PURPOSE OF THANKSGIVING & THESIS
1. WHEN WE THINK OF THANKSGIVING, WE THINK…
a. Time with family;
b. Some, Time of Rest; Others, Work, if you’re cooking!
c. Food – turkeys, pies, enjoyable eating;
d. Football games, Conversations.
2. Thanksgiving is much more than these things. It teaches us about having a grateful heart and learning to be thankful.
3. We’re going to learn this morning about being thankful from an unusual source – a leper! Follow along as we look at “The Leper’s Thanksgiving.”
I. CONDITION OF THE LEPERS
Imagine what kind of life a leper lived in those days:
A. THEIR POVERTY
1. The modern squalor of slums and ghettos (even with their cardboard shacks, filthy mattresses, rotting clothes, lice, roaches, rats, drugs, alcohol, and AIDS) are palaces in comparison to what lepers lived in.
2. In A.D. 33, there were no disability checks, no welfare, no food card, no hospitals – lepers were completely abandoned. There were no relief organizations.
B. THEY WERE SOCIALLY OSTRACIZED
1. They were cast out of their homes, forbidden from entering any town. They couldn’t have contact with their families.
2. They had to stay off all the roads and if they saw a person approaching them, they were to cover their faces and yell “Unclean! Unclean!”
3. They had to live out in the weather and the only way they could get food was by begging at a distance or picking through garbage dumps.
C. THEIR PHYSICAL CONDITIONS
1. Lepers were hideous to look at. Their noses, lips and ears were usually eaten off. Their teeth had fallen out, and they’d lost fingers, toes and sometimes hands and arms.
2. Their skin often had patches of raw flesh and they had areas that were rotting and stinking.
D. WORST SUFFERING
1. But worst were the haunting memories of loved ones they could never visit again – loving wives or husbands, precious children they longed to see and touch.
2. They’d lost their homes, careers, respect, and all hope of usefulness. The only thing ahead of them was a horrible death!
3. That’s why scripture uses leprosy as a type/ comparison for sin, which eats away your spirit and destroys you.
II. THE LEPERS APPEALED TO JESUS
A. THEY HEARD ABOUT JESUS
1. Jesus of Nazareth, the great prophet, began healing lepers as part of His regular ministry (Lk. 7:22, Mt. 10:8).
2. The reports of lepers being healed must have shot through the leper communities like lightning.
B. THEY WAITED FOR JESUS
1. These 10 lepers heard the report and at once determined to get along the road where they’d heard Jesus was coming down.
2. There they were, waiting for him. They were a pitiful sight: 10 hobbling, filthy, decaying and dying men, each holding up the other.
C. GETTING JESUS’ ATTENTION
1. As Jesus approached, they waved their arm stumps and dirty rags and pointed to their missing limbs.
2. They lifted up their voices and wailed, as only the most hopeless can do; “Jesus! Master! Have mercy on us!”
3. They didn’t ask for money or any earthly comfort, but only that the horrid disease which consumed them be healed.
4. If we could see our own spiritual condition, we would have the same desperation as the 10 lepers for healing. May God do for us what He did for them!
III. JESUS’ COMMAND & THEIR OBEDIENCE
A. ANSWER: “GO SHOW YOURSELVES TO PRIESTS”
1. This was what the O.T. commanded a leper to do when he’d already been healed (Lev. 14:2-9). The 10 lepers might’ve said, “Huh? The priest would think us crazy because we’re not healed yet.”
2. But there was something of a promise in Jesus’ statement: “Begin to ‘act out’ your healing; put some action into your faith.” (This is a great revelation for us if we are seeking healing).
3. FAITH is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (yet)” Heb. 11:1. God “calleth those things
which be not as though they were” Rom. 4:17. Mark 11:24 “…believe that you have received it(past tense), and it SHALL be yours!”
4. Jesus’ word became the “point of contact” for their faith to be released. Other times Jesus had applied mud or spittle, or touched them. One woman had touched the hem of His garment as her point of contact.
5. Feelings (sense knowledge) must follow FAITH, not precede it. Anybody can walk on land, but it takes faith to be a water-walker!
6. These lepers had to set aside their reasoning, their previous experience, the laws of science and their fears of embarrassment. They didn’t watch their symptoms, they watched Jesus’ WORD!
7. You are healed! The Word says you are! Act on it!
B. THEIR OBEDIENCE
1. Without proof of their healing, they obeyed Jesus and began hobbling their way toward Jerusalem and the Temple.
2. And just as God gives His Spirit to them that obey Him (Acts 5:23), He also gives HEALING to those who obey Him!
3. As they went, the lepers began to notice the flowing of life and feeling in limbs which had been dead.
4. One moved an arm he’d been unable to for months.
5. Another noticed his scaly, ashen skin begin to throb with life. Open wounds began to close. Fingers, toes, noses and ears began growing out.
6. Before they got two or three miles, they were all 10 completely healed! (known by the timing of the one who returned).
IV. “WHERE ARE THE NINE?”
A. ONE RETURNED
1. Luke 17:11 tells us that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, but was skirting around Samaria. After Jesus’ command, the lepers must have taken the straight, cross-country route toward Jerusalem, through Samaria.
2. The Lord and the apostles hadn’t gone very far when they saw a man running toward them. He was “praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him” Lk. 17:15-16.
3. “Thank you Jesus Son of David! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!”
B. “10 CLEANSED, WHERE ARE THE 9?”
1. The Bible adds, “and he was a Samaritan” (16). It’s shocking that God’s people didn’t come back to say thanks, but this stranger did come back to give Him praise!
2. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (17) Jesus is asking that question today.
3. Many years ago, a ship named Lady Elgin sank in Lake Michigan. A university student, Edward Spencer, was an excellent swimmer and risked his life in freezing temperatures to save 17 people off of the ship. His health was broken by the effort. When he was old, he was asked if any of the 17 people had ever expressed their thanks to him. He answered, “Not one.” [Knights 3000 Illus., p. 688]
4. Jesus’ comment that nine out of ten didn’t return to give thanks shows that ingratitude is a very common sin.
A. ILLUSTRATION: BLIND MAN SEES
1. Oftentimes I’m afraid we overlook the simple gift of creation and fail to thank God for the beauty around us. Bob Edens was blind. He couldn’t see a thing. His world was a black hall of sounds and smells.
2. He felt his way through five decades of darkness. And then, he could see. A skilled surgeon performed a complicated operation and, for the first time, Bob Edens had sight. He found it overwhelming.
3. “I never would have dreamed that yellow is so . . . yellow,” he exclaimed. “I don’t have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favorite color. I just can’t believe red. I can see the shape of the moon – and I like nothing better than seeing a jet plane flying across the sky leaving a vapor trail. And of course, sunrises and sunsets. And at night I look at the stars in the sky and the flashing light. You could never know how wonderful everything is.”
4. High school students were asked what the “Seven Wonders of the World” were. They listed things such as the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, etc.
5. One girl remained silent. The teacher said, “Emily, what did you write down?” “I wrote that the Seven Wonders of the World are: to see, to taste, to touch, to hear, to feel, to laugh, and to love.” The room was so full of silence you could’ve heard a pin drop.
6. Those things we overlook as simple and "ordinary" are truly wondrous. The most precious things in life cannot be bought.
B. THE CALL: MOST THANKFUL FOR? JESUS DIED FOR ME!
1. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” Gal. 2:20.
2. Without Jesus’ death and his sacrifice in my place – I really wouldn’t have anything else to give thanks for. And neither would you.
3. I am so thankful that even though he knew everything about me he still died in my place, opening up the way to eternal life for me.
4. Are you thankful? Why don’t we make a new commitment of our lives to Him in appreciation of what He did for us.