October 11, 2020

"Thanksgiving: Your faith has made you well"

Scripture Reading: Luke 17:11-19

In these strange times it might not seem we have a lot for which to be thankful. A tiny, invisible virus has taken its toll. Family gatherings are restricted, events have been cancelled, government grows bigger, freedom becomes smaller, and anxiousness, fear and anger seem to be the only uniting forces in our society. For what do we have to be thankful? Perhaps more than we think! This year, more than in previous ones, we need to remember what and who stands at the center of our thankfulness.

Questions:

What does God owe you? What do you owe God?
Is it harder to have an attitude of Thanksgiving during these pandemic times?

Our reading today from Luke 17:11-19 is about a person who receives a saving relationship with Christ who heals his disease and restores him to all of life. When this happens, he is thankful. In the story Luke tells us that as Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem he is met by ten men who have “leprosy”. This is the same infectious skin disease that we read about a few weeks ago in Matthew 8. A person with leprosy was even more isolated and feared than people with the Covid-19 virus are today. Back in the time when Jesus was engaged in his ministry on earth, a person with leprosy was cut off from family, friends, the worshipping community and every other part of society. It was a miserable existence shrouded in shame and hopelessness.

Questions:

Why do the men shout at Jesus from a distance? What do they ask for?
How does Jesus answer them? What’s the significance of what he tells them to do?
What does it mean to “fall on your face” before someone?

Ten people were cured of an infectious skin disease, but only one was saved. It’s one thing to be cured on the outside, it’s something far great to be cured on the inside. That is, to be “saved” means to be restored body and soul. The Christian faith is not about superficial things. It’s not about being healthy and wealthy. It’s not just about outward displays of spirituality. It’s about God making you a whole new person. Why is the man thankful? Why should we give thanks to God? At the heart of our thanksgiving is the New Life that God brings by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ. In the end, Jesus says to the man, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” More literally Jesus says “your faith has saved you”. The word for “made well” is the word for salvation.

Questions:

What does Jesus “save” us for? Do you think the man who returns to Jesus understand this?
What does the apostle Paul remind us about in Romans 8?
What is the significance that the one who returns to Jesus is a “foreigner”?

The Conclusion:

Ten people with leprosy cry out to Jesus. Ten are cured but only one comes back to say “thanks” and hear the word of salvation.

To know if you have this saving relationship with Christ as the person in our text, check your attitude. Are you a thankful person? Do you know what God has done for you in Christ? Or do you complain constantly and believe you have not received what you deserve. The gospel states clearly that apart from the grace of God in Christ, we deserve only eternal death. The good news is we do not get what we deserve. Because of grace we have the promise of eternal life. God does not owe us anything, but in Christ he has given us everything. Therefore, we give thanks for all his blessings to us. Amen.