Summary: A sermon about gratitude and thanksgiving.
When my mom was 5 years old her mother died due to complications during pregnancy.
When my mom was 6 years old her father died.
So, my mom went to live with a cousin and her brother--my uncle Jack-- went to live with an aunt.
And so my mom and her brother grew up separated from one another with no living parents.
Not too long ago, I said to my mother, "You sure have had a difficult life."
And she looked at me quite surprised, "Why do you think that?," she asked, "I feel that God's grace has always been at my back."
That sort of gratitude, of looking at life--not with a sense of entitlement or bitterness--but with thanksgiving is an amazing thing to me.
It really is one of the major things which distinguishes a happy person from an unhappy person.
Are you grateful for what you have?
Or are you angry that you don't have more?
In researching for this sermon, I found that over and over and over again on the lists of what makes for happy persons--expressing gratitude for what we have comes out at number 1 every time!!!
So, on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus entered a village and "ten men with skin diseases approached him," they, "[kept] their distance from him."
The skin diseases would have been leprosy.
And according to the law of the day, any person with leprosy was considered "unclean."
They were outcastes.
They were required to live away from other people, and to cry out "unclean, unclean" whenever anyone approached.
But these lepers must have heard about Jesus.
They must have heard that Jesus was a really special guy Who broke the traditional rules, ate with sinners, healed the sick, raised the dead, and touched the "unclean."
So, when Jesus comes along, instead of crying out "unclean, unclean," these guys raise their voices and cry out: "Jesus, Master, show us mercy!"
And literally, the text says that the ten lepers "raised a voice;" they called out to Jesus in unison.
And interestingly enough, their response to the healing will be in sharp contrast to this unison stuff.
When Jesus saw the lepers, He said, "Go show yourselves to the priests."
Why did He say that?
Because if a leper were ever be blessed enough to actually recover from the disease, a priest had to certify that the person was indeed clean before he or she could return to the community.
Now let's backtrack here.
Again, it says that "When Jesus saw them, he said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.'"
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest, the levite, and the Samaritan each "see" the man in the ditch, but its only the Samaritan who stops to help him.
Later Jesus blesses His disciples for what their "eyes see" and "their ears hear."
And Jesus' "seeing" the lepers means more than just physical sight...
...Just as when "one [of the 10 lepers] saw that he had been healed, [he] returned and praised God with a loud voice..."
And "He fell on his face at Jesus' feet and thanked him."
Here in Luke, seeing means more than just physical sight or seeing with our eyes.
It means perceiving the opportunity to be merciful to another, and it also means the recognition that God has been merciful to us!!!
The right response, therefore to other people in need is to show them kindness, mercy and love...
...to bind up their wounds, give them something to eat, drink, clothes to wear, visit them when they are sick or in prison...
And the right response to God when we have been healed or helped is not to presume that it's something we deserve or are entitled to, but to praise God for God's saving mercy...God's saving grace!!!
It is a privilege to show mercy and serve God through serving others.
It is a privilege to be served as well.
It should sweep us off our feet, and cause us to go running to our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior with praise and thanksgiving!!!
I love how it says that the leper "fell on his face at Jesus' feet and thanked him."
In Revelation Chapter 7 beginning at verse 9 we get a picture of heaven.
It says, "there was a great crowd that no one could number.
They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language.
They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands.
They cried out with a loud voice..."
...this would be in unison...
"Victory belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'
All the angels stood in a circle around the throne, and around the elders and four living creatures.