Thanksgiving – Feasts, Family Friends and Football. Don’t forget the Thanks.

Feasts, Family Friends and Football

Today Thanks giving is all about feasts, friends, family and football.  However, by meaning, thanksgiving, is The act of rendering thanks or expressing gratitude for favors or mercies.

Luke 17 gives us a narrative about Jesus’ travels between  Samaria and Galilee.”

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!”

Jesus is called aside by the plaintive shouts of men afflicted with a serious skin which we call  leprosy today. I imagine that they thought, if Jesus could cure the blind, heal the lame, and raise the dead, he had the power to help them too. They were already pariahs and had nothing to lose, so they shouted to him desperate hope.

When he saw them, he told them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  To cure their leprosy, Jesus told them to simply go appear before the priests.  The priests, were the first-century USDA equivalents who determined whether a healing had taken place. Any cure, according to the Book of Leviticus, would need the equivalent of a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” from the priests so that the previously unclean could be ritually restored to the community.

Jesus told them to go, so will they heed his direction?  He did not give them a sign, he did not do anything except tell them what to do.  I have heard it said this direction was a trial of obedience.  They asked for a cure, he told them what do do and what he told them to do did not even make logical sense.  It was like me saying I needed a million dollars and Jesus telling me to just go to the bank and withdraw it from my account.  I would probably be a bit leery, but whether it was the reputation of Christ, His determined gaze or his aura,  they believed him and that they had met not a deity of indifference but a God of love and mercy. 

And as they went, they were cleansed.

Note the progression: “as they went, they were cleansed.” The obedience precedes the healing.

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.

Until this point, the 10 lepers had been a crew: they had likely lived together, they had struggled together, they had gone off together, and they had been cleansed together. Now, however, one breaks rank and bee lines to Jesus. Whatever has happened, the man knows he has been blessed, and the blessing requires a response. First he sees, then he turns, then he praises.

Once the Samaritan gets to Christ, Jesus hits him with three telling questions.

  1. “Were not all ten cleansed?
  2. Where are the other nine?
  3. Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”

There is a lot of content for sermons in this story, but I must confess: these questions have always bothered me. At first blush they seem to reflect what we may consider a childish need for praise and attention by Jesus. Why did he need to be Christ want acknowledgement. 

“Gratefulness,” “is an awareness that we are the recipients of goodness.”Didn’t these nine men know what God had done for them? Though he already had rewarded their obedience, he wanted something more. He wanted their gratitude.

The nine who did not give thanks were not only rude, they were ignorant, misaligned with the truth of the universe. They did not per the inference of this text, seem to know the truth.  We are the recipients, the benefactors, not the creators, of goodness.

In acknowledging this simple truth, we ennoble ourselves. John Piper says, “”God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimately loving act.” 

  1. We should show God thanks because he is deserves it, in our lives just as he did with the lepers.
  • We should be thankful and show thanks to him because God—as the only being perfect in goodness, justice, love, etc.—is worthy of our praise. We do, in fact, owe Him that praise. He wants us to praise Him because it is right and good for us to do so. Since God wants us to do right and good things, of course he wants us to praise and worship Him.
  • Beyond the praise being right and good (and because of its being right and good), worshiping God also brings us joy and enhances our relationship with Him.

Praising God—acknowledging His goodness, love, perfection, and all the incredible things He has done for us—brings Him pleasure.

 If you have children, you know what a beautiful thing it is to have them honor you. You also know the strain of having them selfishly take things for granted or ignore them.

When that happens, neither you nor your children are enriched, and your relationship may is not best. In the same way, the right response from us toward God is praise because He deserves it.

When we act out our love and acknowledgment of Him in this way, we fulfill our purpose; and when we are rightly fulfilling our purpose, we have the best possible joy—God is pleased, our relationship with Him is enhanced, and He has rightly received what He deserves.

a joyful inevitability in a world designed and upheld by God. The only question is whether we will add our voices to the choir.

Back to the story, Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

I wonder how the nine felt when the man, rising from his worship, finally caught up with them, telling of his grateful exchange with Jesus. They had missed the opportunity to deepen their elation by giving thanks.

A grateful man received more than the other nine because “he had his cure confirmed particularly with an encomium: Thy faith hath made thee whole ….

Gratitude brings benefits in this world and in the world to come. The nine had their cure; the one who gave thanks had his cure, plus a relationship with Jesus. This Thanksgiving, let’s remember that we are all the recipients of God’s goodness and remember to praise Jesus, from whom all blessings flow.

Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  Christ declared.

If there is one sin that most prevalent today, it is the sin of ingratitude. God does so much for us. Our indebtedness to him is enormous and yet we rarely or at least infrequently offer thanks for what he has done and continues to do.

Most professing Christians don’t even offer thanks over their meals much less offer thanks over all that God does in their lives. We are much like the little boy who was given a candy by a man.

 The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the good man?” The little boy thought and handed the candy back and said, “Open it.”

For a child of God thankfulness is not confined to a day or a season, it is an attitude that we should have everyday and every hour. Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your Feasts, Family Friends and Football.