Sunday, November 07, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Thanking Jesus"

“Thanking Jesus”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
November 7, 2010
Luke 17:11-19

This is one of my favorite stories about Jesus.

And I’m especially glad that we’ve reached this story in November just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, because this story is all about “Thanking Jesus.”

I was kind of hoping that this story would fall on the Sunday right before Thanksgiving, but this is the day that God has given for us to study it, and I also think it goes really well with Communion.  So, I’m glad that it’s today.

Thanking Jesus.

We live in an age of ungratefulness.

Now, I don’t know that there ever was an age of thanksgiving, but I do know that people in our society are increasingly ungrateful.  We just expect to be given good things and the words “Thank you” are not nearly enough on our lips.

And Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, should be the most thankful people on planet Earth.

This is a story about one man who was very thankful to Jesus.

He was an unlikely candidate.  He was a leper, an outsider to all human society because of his skin disease and unclean status.  And more than that, he was not a Jew. He was not one of Jesus’ race.  He was a despised Samaritan.

But he was thankful. And he had every reason, as we will see, to be thanking Jesus.

I want us to look closely at the two main characters: Jesus and the Thankful Leper.
Before we get to the thankful leper, I want to us think about Jesus here in this story.  What is revealed to us about Jesus?

Remember, our series is called “Certain of Jesus.”

What do we learn here in this story about Jesus?

Well, first of all, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  You see that in verse 11?

“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.”

This is the third time that Luke has mentioned that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem.

And it’s not really that geographically Jesus is nearer to Jerusalem.  He’s been nearer in previous chapters.  But Luke is making a different point.

He’s saying that Jesus is set on going to Jerusalem.  Jesus knows where He is headed.

He is headed to the Cross.

He is headed to passion week.  He is headed to suffering. Being betrayed, being arrested, being tried, being mocked, being scourged, being killed.

Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem.

And He knows it.  And it must be weighing on Him.
But still He goes.  And...still He stops to show mercy and compassion to these lepers.


“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!’”

It’s really sad that they had to stand a distance.  That was normal. That was the law. If anyone got close to them, they were supposed to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!”

But they did more than that.  They called, “Help!  Help us!  Jesus, Master, have pity on us.”

And Jesus does.  We can’t miss the compassion of Jesus here. Even though He is on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus is full of compassion.  He is moved by their plight and by their appeal.  And He does something.

He sends them on a cleansing mission.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t just heal them.  He requires faith and obedience.

He requires them to trust Him and obey Him.  Sound familiar?

He is going to cleanse them.  He is going to heal them.  But He is actually calling to more than that.  He is calling them to discipleship.

He asks them to trust Him and to obey Him.  V.14

“When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’”

He doesn’t say, “You are healed.”  He says, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”

Why is that?

Well, back in Leviticus 14, the law said that if someone was healed of an infectious skin disease (and that would be pretty rare!), they were supposed go show themselves to the priests, who would certify that they were now clean.

And after an 8 day ritual that included sacrifices, the cleansed leper would be able to be restored to society–especially to his family!

And Jesus says, “Go do it.  Trust me. Go see the priests.”

Trust and obey.  There is no other way to be happy with Jesus than to trust and obey.

And they do.  We don’t know what was running through their minds, but they take Jesus up on His command, and they go.  V.14 again.

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

I love that.

Last month, the speaker at our Pastors and Wives Retreat, Jeff Youell, spoke on this story, and he asked the question, “Have you ever wondered how many steps it took before they were healed?”

“Was it 5 or 10 or 200?”

“ they went, they were cleansed.”

The skin disease was reversed!

Unhealthy skin became healthy again.
Uncleanness was washed away and became clean.
Perhaps festering body parts that were wasting away were regenerated and grew back on their faces, on their extremeties.

We don’t know exactly what happened, but we know that it was amazing!

This is a miracle.

And Jesus did it.  What do we learn about Jesus here?

He is not only determinately on His way to Jerusalem and full of compassion for the suffering, and requiring faith and obedience.

He is full of power!  Wonder-working power!  Miracle-working power.

That’s Jesus.  Wow!

We’re supposed to say, “Wow!”  When we read verse 14.  “They were cleansed.”


And we’re also supposed to say, “Thank you.”

And only one of them does.  V.15

“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.”

Thanking Jesus.

We’re going to talk about this guy in a just a second.

But for now, I want us to keep looking at Jesus.

What do you see here about Jesus?

Do you see Jesus accepting thanksgiving and even worship?

This man throws himself at Jesus’ feet and thanks Him.

Can you imagine what that would have been like?

Have you ever thrown yourself at someone’s feet?

It looks a lot like worship!

Now, it may be that this man was just treating Jesus as a great king and not yet as his God.  He might not know yet Who Jesus really is.

But Jesus doesn’t say, “Get up.  I’m just a man.  I’m just a tool of God.”

No, He accepts this man’s reverence and thanksgiving.

And He actually expects more!  He asks three follow-up questions.  V.17

“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’”

Here’s something to see about Jesus.

He is disappointed.

One out of ten?  10 percent?  That’s the only return?

10% thankful?

It’s disappointing to Jesus.

‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’”

Jesus isn’t whining.  But He’s not impressed either.

Only 10% of the cleansed lepers were thankful.

And Jesus cares.  He wants the cleansed lepers to be thankful–to give praise to God!

We can be certain Jesus cares about that.

Now, let’s turn to the other main character–the one we’ll call the Thankful Leper.

We don’t know his name.  We’re never told.

And of course, he’s not a leper any more.  But the “Thankful Former Leper” sounds dumb.

So, let’s think about him for a few seconds.

Of course, in this story, he’s the one more like us, right?

Or at least, the one we should be like.

Sometimes, we’re like the other 90%, aren’t we?

Three things about this guy:


This man has every reason to be thankful, doesn’t he?

He was a Samaritan (and remember, the Jews and the Samaritans basically hated each other).  He was despised.  He was rejected.  He was unclean.  He was “outside.”  He was outcast.  He was alone.

Probably the other 9 lepers were Jews.  That’s why Jesus is surprised in verse 18 that only the foreigner came back.

He’s not complaining about the foreigner.  He’s complaining, He’s disappointed in His kinsmen according to the flesh.

But this Samaritan leper has been brought near.

He has been cleansed.  He has been accepted.

He has been made whole.

He has been loved.

And that is the chief reason for us to be thankful people, ourselves.

We have been loved by Jesus.

We who were rebel sinners are now seated at His table.

“Jesus, Thank You!”

We have been loved.

Do you feel the love of Jesus today?

I want you to feel it.

I want you to know how much the Lord loves you.

Do you feel like an outsider?

Like a leper?

The social equivalent of this is probably someone with HIV.

Or someone who is of a different and despised race.

Do you feel like someone on the outside looking in?

Jesus loves you!

He has compassion for you.

He died for you!

He set His face towards Jerusalem for you!

And He didn’t stop until He achieved His goal.

Jesus loves you.

He is full of power.  And if you belong to Jesus, then you are no longer unclean but clean.

No longer unforgiven but forgiven.

No longer unacceptable but accepted.

No longer far away but near.

No longer an outsider but an insider–a family member, a son or daughter of God!

You have been loved.

You are loved.

And therefore you should be thankful.

Number two:  The former leper was thankful.


Verses 15 and 16 are the best this story.  Let’s read those again.

“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.”

I love that “loud voice” in verse 15.

The Greek words are basically “mega” and “phone” where we get our megaphone from.

This guy was shouting!  “Wahoo!  Praise God, I’m healed!”

And he’s so physical.  He throws himself at Jesus’ feet and thanks Him.

This guy “got it.”

He understood what had happened to him, and he was truly thankful.

This is why we sing at church and not just speak in a regular voice.

Because some things need song.

And some things need shouting.

If you shout at a football game, then you should shout in thankful worship.

We say, “Yes!  Yeah!”

We can’t help but praise. We can’t help but be moved by some feat at sports.

At least men do.

We should be so moved when being thankful.

That’s what it means to be a part of the 10% who are truly thankful.

Are we thankful?

Do our lives show it?

Not just, are we loud.  But do our lives show that we “get it.”

We have been loved with a great love, so great should be our thankfulness.

Christians should be the most thankful people in the world.

And here’s the biggest reason why.

Because we’re saved.


The leper was saved, not by works, but by faith.

Look at the tag line at the very end of the story.  V.19.  Don’t miss this.

“Then [Jesus] said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”

And you might have a footnote for that last phrase, “made you well.”

It could also be translated, “your faith has saved you.”

It’s the same word we often see for salvation, “sozo.”

It can also mean healed.  And that’s the basic idea here.

But, I think there is something more.

Because this man “got it” and had faith in Jesus and praise God and wanted to be thankful, Jesus is saying that he is healed in a bigger sense than just physically.

He is saved.

Not by works.  But by faith in Jesus.

And Jesus alone.

And the same is true for you and me.

If we have faith in Jesus then we are saved.

And there is no greater reason to be thanking Jesus.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...