top of page

Gratitude: Just To Say Thanks

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled 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!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. 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." Luke 17:11-19 (NIV) Read the whole chapter.

You know, it's probably a pretty common litany in most households with children. A child asks for something and then is often instructed, "What do you say?" "Please." And then after the child has been given that item, that food, whatever it was requested: "What do you say?" "Thank you." We were reminded of this past weekend when we went around and did some limited trick-or-treating. Each time we'd say, "Did you say 'thank you'' to our children as I think most parents do. That word 'Thank You' is an important one. It's one that we are taught and instructed in from the earliest of ages. It's one that I think most of us probably offer. I think it's one that society and convention says is normal and acceptable to hear. It's one that we probably do take for granted. It's one that kind of rolls off of our lips sometimes without having given it a lot of thought. Someone's holding the door for you and you walk past without making eye contact, say "thank you" and keep going. It's there and yet sometimes we forget how important it is.

In our Scripture this morning, we have this scene that unfolds with these ten lepers hanging outside of a village that Jesus is approaching. Now leprosy is a specific disease and our understanding of it Biblically could have been any collection of all sorts of skin diseases. The Priests were the keeper of safety and security in those communities. If someone came down with this rash that didn't seem to be going away, the Priest was the one that would examine it and declare, 'You're okay, you're clean. It's gonna heal, you'll be fine.' Or they're the one that would say, 'Nope, you're unclean. Out you go.' Which meant that they no longer could live in the community because they believed and thought that it would probably rub off and be contagious. So for the well-being of all these people, these lepers were exiled out of the community. Sometimes they'd go off and form communities. Other times they would live outside the wall of the city or the village. That afforded safety to everybody within. They were consigned to a life of living with other lepers. They were consigned to a life of begging simply to survive.

So it was probably not uncommon for lepers to be at the entrance to a village calling out asking for money, asking for food, asking for whatever someone would give them. And as Jesus approached they called out. Adding that title 'Master' may have been unique to Jesus. They may have heard about this man, this miracle worker. But the plea, the call, was probably not much different, 'Have mercy on us. Have mercy and give us something to eat. Have mercy, give us some money so we can survive.' But the call went out to Jesus, 'Have mercy on us.' Now Jesus gives them a simple instruction. One that if you or I were calling out for mercy and told, 'Go show yourself to the Priest' we'd be thinking 'wait a minute, what? I just asked for mercy and you're telling me to go show myself to the Priest.' And out of obedience, out of faith, out of whatever it was when Jesus said, 'Go and do this', they did.

We're told that as they went, they were healed, cured of whatever it was that was afflicting them. We're told that one of them when he saw they were healed, turned back, praised God in a loud voice, and went and threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. His mother must have taught him well. He knew he was supposed to say thank you. And yet, the story really pushes us in the fact that of the ten, this one, this foreigner, the Samaritan, the least likely, the one who was even before his affliction and illness the lowest of the low, was the one who recognized and was moved to go and to thank Jesus. Just to say thanks for all that had been done. 10 were healed. 10 were made clean. And yet this one goes back.

How often do we find ourselves in the position of the other nine? You see, we're quick to enjoy the gifts. But we're often kind of slow to praise the Giver. We're quick to go to God with