Summary: To teach the importance of gratitude.
Introduction: Nine out of ten lepers are ingrates. At least so it would seem, if we draw out statistics from this incident recorded only in Luke’s gospel. It is an occasion, which not only highlights the ingratitude of man, but the desire of gratitude from God. Every day of our lives we are the subjects of God’s grace and goodness. From the food on our plates, to the clothes on our backs to the roofs over our heads we have much to be thankful for. We are blessed by the salvation of our souls, the Spirit in our hearts and a heavenly Father who loves us. Yet, are we diligent about offering a prayer of thanksgiving.
I like to be thanked, and you like to be thanked, but above all God likes to be thanked, in fact His Word calls upon us to be thankful to Him for all His daily blessings.
In ancient Israel king David employed the Levites, among other things, to offer thanks on behalf of the people – see 1Chron 16:4, Neh 12:24.
His psalms are full of thanksgiving – Psalm 18:49; 30:4; 35:18; 69:30; 95:2; 100:4; and 140:13
In the N.T., Paul also exhorts us to be thankful – Eph 5:20; Phil 4:6; Col 3:15; and 1Thess 5:18.
And at the end of time thanksgiving will be one of the chords struck in heaven as praise is given to the Lamb upon His Throne – Rev 7:10-12, and 11:16-17.
So this question falling from the lips of Jesus really reflects God’s desire to be praised and His quest for thankfulness from the hearts of men, “Where are the nine”?
This question really finds us out. It exposes us. It shows us what the human heart is really like. It convinces us of sin. “Where are the nine?”
I. It Discovers Our Selfishness.
A. Illus: Holiday Bible Club – dozens of prizes and awards given out, on one occasion child after child received a gift, but I recall as they came out, took what they were given and sat down only one child said “Thank you.”
1. Is that a problem with children alone? No it is humanity’s problem. We are a selfish race.
2. You see that on the roads when you allow someone in front of you and they do not acknowledge it. You see it when you hold a door open for someone and they don’t say thank you. You find it in shops when you hand over your money to a gruff shopkeeper.
3. This is nort a problem reserved for childhood; this is a symptom of the sin condition.
4. “Where are the nine?”
B. In Luke’s gospel we are introduced to these lepers, ten of them in all.
1. They are plagued by the most terrible condition.
2. Cut off from society by law, outcast from their own homes and villages they wander in the wilderness, bells around their neck crying “Unclean! unclean!” at the first sight of others.
3. It is said that misery loves company, well, I can think of no more miserable company than this group of ten. What a pitiful picture they create.
4. Yet, when they recognise Jesus they cry out as one for cleansing, “Master, have mercy on us.”
5. Apart from his mercy they were hopeless and helpless.
6. And so He shows them mercy, He heals them and sends them back to the priests ( a requirement of the law), but only one of their number manages to return to offer a word of thanks.
C. Where are the nine?
1. Presumably they have returned to their homes and families.
2. They are enjoying the embrace of wives and children.
3. They are sitting around a meal table for the first time in who knows how long, enjoying some home cooking.
4. No one denies them these pleasures, in fact I dare say if we could have been privy to those scenes our heart’s would have been warmed, but they were occasions overshadowed by ingratitude, and they revealed the selfish nature of the human heart.
5. Of course there is nothing wrong with these actions in and of themselves – they are normal, they aren’t exceptional, but they are without gratitude.
D. You know it’s interesting when things go bad we ask “Why me?”
1. I am sure these leper s asked that many times.
2. But when things go well we never ask “Why me?” We never say “Why am I healthy, why an I well off, why am I fed? Why do I have nice clothes/ Why Me? Why do I drive a nice car? Why Me?
3. Why do we ask this question when things are bad, but not when things are good?
4. You see this question really reveals the selfishness of the human heart. In bad times it verbalizes the notion that “I don’t deserve this.” But it’s absence in good times, underlines the attitude “I do deserve this.”, and when you think that you are receiving your just deserts, gratitude is a long way from the heart.