Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-28:14 / Luke 17:11-37 / Psalm 46:1-11
In 1621, a group of pilgrims shared a feast with a group of friendly Indians and it was the start of a Thanksgiving tradition. President George Washington penned the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1779 for our nation to have, “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
It is quite ironic that our country sets aside a time to thank God for His provisions yet scrutinizes prayer in public institutions and devalues God’s Word. A true thankful heart is not made by an annual holiday or by a thanksgiving prayer. It isn’t a learned behavior like teaching a child to say “thank you”. A thankful heart has its foundation in God… in a relationship of faith.
A thankful heart will understand their great need for God’s mercy in their lives. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when 10 leprous men cried out to Him in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:13) These lepers had one of the most hideous, quarantined diseases of that day. Leper colonies and camps outside city walls were built, as lepers were considered unclean and outcasts. Even their own bodies repulsed against them as the nature of disease caused their limbs to decay, rot away and fall off. Leprosy was described as a “living death”.
The Jews supposed Lepers to be inflicted for the punishment of some particular sin, which was a mark of God’s displeasure. They lived under the cloud of a physical curse as well as a spiritual curse. Even today, the leprosy of sin keeps us far removed from God. Leprous hypocrisy and rebellion eat away at our soul.
Jesus tells them to present themselves to the priests. The priests were the only ones who could declare them “clean”. While on the way, a miraculous healing takes place. One of the lepers turns and runs back to Christ as he is moved by intense and overwhelming gratitude. He kneels giving Jesus great praise. This man once stood a great distance from Christ now bows in worship and praise.
Jesus was pleased with the return of this leper but puzzled, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?" (vs.17) This leper was from an unbelieving Samaritan background so it was odd that he would return and not the nine lepers of Jewish faith. The Old Testament records numerous accounts where the Israelite disobedience was preceded by ungratefulness. This Samaritan believed!
A thankful spirit perpetuates a personal faith and relationship with Christ. The Samaritan experienced not only the healing power of Jesus, but the touch of Christ upon his spirit man, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (vs.19) All ten received a physical healing but he received much, much more…a spiritual healing. A thankful heart will not keep their distance from God…God draws them near to Him!