Then Jesus answered, "Were not ten lepers cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well." Luke 17:17-19
Someone said to me one time, "Greg, I know that I should live thankfully, not ungratefully, but how does being a Christian help me do that? How is living life as a Christian any different than anyone else just trying to do their best?"
Wow, pretty deep questions from my friend, wouldn't you say? How would you answer that?
Well, I told him that what makes a Christian's life of thankfulness different, what makes living the Christian life different than just merely living life to the best of one's ability is that we know Who to thank in the midst of all of this stuff. In fact, the source of our thanksgiving isn't the effort we put into trying to be grateful. The source of real thanksgiving isn't to be found in the power of merely changing our perspective on things; no, the source of our thanksgiving are the actions of a merciful God in the person and work of Jesus for us. The source of a Christian's thankfulness is the reality of what God has done for us and will do for us by His grace! What makes a Christian's life of thankfulness different? We know Who to thank for our lives. We know Who to trust for our lives. We know Who really is concerned for our lives, not just today, but forever. And, when you live thankfully in that reality, there is nothing else like it in our world today!
I think that is what we see in our lesson today. Jesus healed ten lepers who were outcasts in their society. This was a lonely, detached life. It was one of shame and suffering. All ten get healed in our lesson, but only one saw the bigger picture. Only one realized that Jesus wasn't just a holy man or a religious teacher, He was God in the flesh who came to give him life, not just for the moment, but life forever. Jesus says that this man's "faith made Him well." That doesn't mean his faith somehow earned the healing because others were healed too. It means this man saw his healing as a part of something bigger. It was merely another way to give thanks to the God who loved him, who created him, and redeemed him. It was just another opportunity for Him to realize that his life was in God's hands in Christ, and that was a very good thing in deed.
This text is one of my favorites because it shows the heart of Jesus for those who are hurting. He is One who feels your pain and mine. He is One who wept at the tomb of His good friend Lazarus. He is the One who not only seeks the outcast -- the discarded of this world -- He seeks all who know they are lost without Him. This lesson is the appointed reading for Thanksgiving Day. Wow, imagine that! Even the upcoming U.S. celebration of Thanksgiving is more than thankfulness for divine providence in general. It is more than a day to be thankful for family and friends, for work and leisure. It is surely more than a day to root for your favorite football team, while you stuff yourself with turkey. It is a day to remember that you know exactly Who to be thankful for, for the eternal life and salvation that you have right now by faith. His Name is Jesus. He is the Christ, and there is healing, life and salvation in His gracious hands. Think about that today and put that thankfulness to work!
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, don't just help me to be grateful in life, help me to see You as the Source of my joy, my strength, and my power to live thankfully because You have done all things well for me, now and forever! Amen!
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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