And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, (Luke 17:15)
Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and I’m sure most of us have plans for food, family, friends, and fellowship. In today’s culture, Thanksgiving Day is just a good excuse to have a day (or two) off work, indulge in gluttonous behavior, and worship before the luminous god of football followed by the giving of alms to the god of materialism the next day, all the while in complete ignorance of the significance of the day.
As I thought about Thanksgiving coming up, the Lord brought to mind the account of Jesus healing the ten lepers. We read about that in Luke 17:11-19:
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. (Luke 17:11-19)
Following the “Transfiguration” (Luke 9:28-36), Jesus “stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Coming down from Caesarea Philippi, Luke records that Jesus “passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee” (v. 11). He is traveling from the north to the south (toward Jerusalem), which means He must pass through Galilee first before going through Samaria. Why did Luke name Samaria first? I do not know. I could not find one commentator that could tell me, but I suspect the answer is down below. Jesus was on His way to the cross.
As the passage records, ten leprous men met Him, and while remaining at a distance –because their disease was so contagious, they were not allowed to come near other people – they cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them. They addressed Him as “Master” – Greek ἐπιστάτης (epistatēs), from epi, “superimposition, to be over, above,” and histēmi, “to stand” Together the title means “one who stands above” – Master! This is not to be confused with διδάσκαλος (didaskalos) meaning “teacher” (Luke 3:12). Thus, they recognized that Jesus had the power to heal their disease.
When Jesus saw them, “He said unto them, ‘Go show yourselves’” (v.14). Note that Jesus does not touch nor approach them. Why? Jesus had often touched lepers when He healed them, why not today? Jesus was on His way to the Cross. He could not allow Himself to become “unclean.” Note also that His Word was sufficient to heal the lepers – “as they went, they were cleansed.” This healing by His verbal command is a clear demonstration of His deity.
All ten exercised faith in believing His Word that they would be healed, but only one returned to give thanks. “When he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God” (v. 15). “And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan” (v. 16). He did not simply bow in reverence. He completely prostrated himself, flat with his face to the ground. He placed himself at Jesus’ feet. His attitude was one of complete humility, reverence, worship, and gratitude – “and he was a Samaritan.” That this one was a Samaritan may explain why Luke listed Samaria before Galilee. The implication is that the other nine were Jews.
Jesus seems surprised that only this one returned to give thanks. However, knowing that the Lord knows the hearts of all men, His feigned surprise was likely intended to make a point. Jesus said that “[God] is kind to the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).
Thankfulness was not particularly characteristic of the Jews. Consider how often they complained after they were freed from Egypt. Think of how soon they fell into idol worship during the time of the Judges. Consider their presumption on God knowing that they were His people. Their lack of gratitude came as no surprise to Jesus. However, the “stranger” recognized his unworthiness and was grateful for the mercy Jesus bestowed on him.
“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (v.19). The Greek word translated “whole” here is σεσωκεν (sesoken), and it means “has saved.” Literally what Jesus said is, “thy faith hath saved thee.” Obedience (which also required faith) had made him “whole,” i.e., healed him. However, his “faith” in recognizing Jesus as “Master” saved him. He was “whole” not only physically, but spiritually.
Does God Expect Us To Be Thankful?
Leviticus 22:29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
- Not out of obligation
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
1 Chronicles 16:8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
Can’t do the latter without the former.
1 Chronicles 16:34 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 30:4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Considering God’s holiness and our unworthiness, how can we not be thankful for the love He has shown to us?
Psalm 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
Not “come before His presence with prayer requests.” Prayer requests are fine, but let’s first thank Him.
Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
“Bless His name,” i.e., “speak well of His name” What are some attributes of God that come to mind?
Colossians 2:6-7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Consequences of Ingratitude:
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Ingratitude darkens the heart.
2 Timothy 3:1-2, 7-9 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy … (7) Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (8) Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (9) But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
Benefits of Thankfulness:
Psalm 140:13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.
We are made “righteous” through Christ. Because of that we have His presence within us.
Jeremiah 30:19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
- In context, this is referring to Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity.
- However, the principle applies.
- God will bless our thankfulness.
2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
- “redound” Greek περισσεύω (perisseuō)
- to superabound (in quantity or quality), be in excess
- God’s grace to us “supper-abounds” through thanksgiving.
2 Corinthians 9:11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
1 Timothy 4:1-5 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (2) Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (3) Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (4) For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: (5) For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Jesus healed ten lepers. Nine of them were of “the chosen.” Their attitude reflected ingratitude for the marvelous work Jesus performed in their lives – almost as if they believed they were entitled to what they received.
One leper – a “stranger,” a Samaritan, clearly an “outsider” due to both his leprosy and his heritage – recognized his own unworthiness and the greatness of the One who healed him; and he returned to give thanks and worship the God who healed him. And he was saved. Let us recognize that we are all lepers and give thanks for all He has done for us.