Robert Griffith | 20 May 2024
Robert Griffith
20 May 2024

 

Colossians 2:6-7  “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

It sounds easy, doesn’t it? However, Jesus’ experience, as told by Luke, shows that even those who are granted a second shot at life occasionally fail to express thanks to the one who is the source of all good things.

Luke 17:11-13  “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

What all ten of these men had in common was the hopelessness of their situation.  In the time of Jesus, leprosy was the most dreaded illness.  The death penalty was the first indication of leprosy.  After being detected, the leper was tossed outside the city and forced to leave behind friends, family, and home.  Leprosy sufferers were even prohibited by law from approaching a non-infected individual within fifty yards of themselves.  If they did, they were stoned to death and pummelling with rocks.

Is it possible to picture yourself never being touched again, never experiencing a child’s hug, a parent’s arm over your shoulders, or a spouse’s embrace?  These men had lived through years of that.  Because leprosy takes so long to spread, several of them had likely had the disease since they were young toddlers.  After they had tried everything and nothing had worked, they had given up hope.

However, an incredible thing happened.  They met a carpenter from Nazareth, the one regarded as the Messiah.

Luke 17:14  “When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.”

It was incredibly rare for someone to be healed of leprosy, but apparently, it had happened before, because a law existed requiring a leper who was healed to go to the priest.  Whether the leper was cleansed and permitted to re-join his friends, family, and community would be decided by the priest.  It’s therefore remarkable that Jesus instructed the ten lepers to see the priest even though their health had already been restored before they were healed.  Their trust was put to the test.  Did they genuinely think Jesus was who He claimed to be?  They obeyed and passed the test.

Imagine this motley crew of men making their way to the temple. They knew they were healed when they looked down and found the decay on their skin had completely disappeared.  They may return home!  There was undoubtedly a lot of screaming, shouting, and whatever their version of a high five was to celebrate such an amazing miracle.  There was unbridled happiness and a strong desire to see the priest, return home, and reclaim their lives.

However, one of them paused and said, “Hey, guys, hold on a minute.”  I must return and give thanks to the One who brought this about.  I must give thanks to the One who bestowed this wonderful gift upon me.  “We need to head back to our families,” the other individuals may have said.  They haven’t been around for years.  However, he would have answered, “Yes, but let me go back and give thanks to Jesus first.”

What happened next was possibly the most important element of the whole story.

Luke 17:15–19  “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner? Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

At last, this man has what you and I take for granted on a daily basis. His life was renewed. He was well. He would survive to see the next day. But he returned to thank Jesus after realising it was a priceless gift from God.  He was the only one, which is the harsh reality of the entire narrative. He was the only one out of ten who bothered to give thanks.

Thanksgiving has the ability to fundamentally alter who we are. This former leper had experienced both physical and spiritual healing. Giving thanks has the ability to heal our relationships, emotions, and our spirit. Gratitude makes our hearts more open to God, allowing us to truly perceive the world as it is, live life to the fullest, and appreciate every breath.

That’s the power of gratitude, but as Jesus posed these three questions, you could practically hear the anguish in His heart:  Were there not ten? The remaining nine are where? Was it only one who returned to thank me?

Now, we must examine our own lives before passing judgement on the nine who chose not to return to thank Jesus. Why do we take so many things for granted? Is it because of something inherent in our human hearts?  When we finally obtain what we so deeply desire, we fail to give thanks to God. How frequently do we ask God to provide us what we need when we’re in a tight spot?  We say, “God, I’ll do anything … if you could just help me once, I’ll be yours forever.”  We fail to give Him thanks when He does supply, even though it’s not always exactly what we want, when we want it.

Only one of the ten men who received this incredible gift that day opened it. On that day, ten people were granted life, but only one came to understand that life extended beyond this earthly existence. Gratitude transforms you in this way. It allows you to receive all of God’s blessings because it opens your heart to Him.