Astounding Thankfulness

By pastorbillwalden

9fd6c24b5140a9a8d39627b39d16a4b8Jesus was approached by ten lepers. They lifted their voices and cried out for mercy.  They yelled.  They hollered.  They didn’t care who heard them or saw them.  Jesus was their only hope.
Leprosy forced a man to live apart from everything he loved. A man would be separated from family, friends, career, and worship. No kisses or hugs…ever. No career. No sense of accomplishment. No healthy pride in life.  Life was reduced to zero.  You lived, waiting to die.
Lepers lived apart from everyone, and had to cry out “unclean” to anyone that might come near them…not that anyone would want to. Leprosy left a man looking like a monster.
Leprosy attacked the body in the extremities, with fingers, toes, and other body parts falling off. It was a slow developing disease. The process was slow and irreversible.
The ancient culture considered it a judgment from God. Some people thought that a person could even sin in the womb, and thus bring such a judgment upon himself. This wasn’t the truth, but many believed it to be true. Others thought that the sin of a parent could cause judgment to come upon a child.  Leprosy brought with it the question: “Whose fault is this”?
Consider the losses these men suffered:
1. No physical love from family or friends.  
2. Loss of career and cultural interaction.
3. No worship with God’s people. 
4. The stigma of people questioning who sinned and caused this to happen.
5. Your body parts fall off slowly, and you have a death sentence.
6. Emotional trauma of wondering if you brought this upon yourself, or if someone else sinned…but never knowing for sure.
Lepers were devastated physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Every part of their humanity was under attack.
These ten lepers cried out to Jesus, and He healed them. He told them to depart and show themselves to the priests, who would examine them and then re-admit them into society. Getting to the priests was the key to re-gaining all that had been lost.  As they went their way, their healing came.
No one can blame them for hurrying away. They were about to re-gain every good thing that God gives to a man. Their excitement and anticipation must have been off the charts.
Nine out of the ten hurried away to re-gain all that Jesus had given back to them. By their faith, they had been healed, and were now hurrying to enjoy what they had missed for so long.  Who could blame them for hurrying away?
One of them however, returned to Jesus and fell at His feet, and thanked Him. They had all lifted their voices in begging for mercy, but only this one lifted his voice in thanks.
Jesus told this man… “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
What’s the takeaway for us? Glad you asked.
1. It’s good to lift your voice and ask God for help.  
2. Don’t forget to lift your voice to give thanks.
3. We can forget to give thanks because we are busy enjoying the good things that have been given to us. We will enjoy them more if we are thankful for them.
4. Jesus healed them all, but only this tenth man was told “your faith has made you well”. The Greek word for well is sozo, which means saved, but also means whole or complete.
5. They were all healed, but only one was made complete.
6. Nine were touched physically, but the tenth was touched physically and spiritually…resulting not just in health, but in wholeness.  Yes, his body was healed, but his soul was right with God.  He was whole.
Final thoughts…
Jesus had to tell this man to “arise”.
He was so moved with gratitude, that he delayed his God given gratification in order to thank Jesus.  Most men would have rushed away to get back to their families.  Some men, might have stopped for a quick “thank you”, and then hurried away.
This man presumably had a full life to get back to.  
He wanted his old life back as much as the others did.  Yet thankfulness caused him to delay enjoying all that Jesus had given back to him, in order that he might thank Jesus.
In fact, this man didn’t just thank Jesus…
He hung around and was apparently unconcerned with hurrying away.  He lingered and remained in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
Finally, Jesus told him to leave.
“Arise!  Go see the priest!  Go see your family!  Get back to all that was taken from you!  Go and enjoy being welcomed back into society!  Go back to the place of worship!  Get out of here!!!”  (my paraphrase)
The thankfulness of this man is astounding.
His immediate desire to give thanks outweighed all that had been given back to him.  He was more interested in thanking Jesus, than enjoying what Jesus had given back to him.
You can read about this story in Luke 17:11-19.
Happy Thanksgiving. 2016.

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