We’ve all been there. It is such an awkward moment. It’s awkward because really you don’t need them to say it. You maybe want them to, but it isn’t the end of the world if they don’t. It’s awkward too, because you know the parents are embarrassed or even angry and you’re more than likely going to hear a child crying and a parent disciplining in the next few minutes. And then you’ll have to give the token comments like, “Oh it’s okay, it’s not a big deal, and I’m sure he appreciates it, don’t worry about it.” And you almost feel bad right? Like it’s your fault that that child is in trouble all because you gave a gift, or a nice compliment and the child didn’t do what? Say, “Thank you.” Thanks for the gift. Thanks for the compliment.
“Thanks” it’s a simple word, but powerful. Saying thank you shows you’re appreciative of what someone else has done for you. It’s a sign of humility when you say thank you. You don’t feel entitled like you deserve stuff, but your grateful that someone thought of you to do this nice thing for you.
“Thank you!” I mean how hard is it to say? Yet, before us in the book of Luke nine men couldn’t be found to say, “thank you”. Nine men suffering from a terrible disease called leprosy who called out to Jesus “Jesus, Master, have pity on us” and were told to “go, show yourselves to the priests” and “as they went they were cleansed” were never heard from again. They never returned to say, “Thank you.”
But look I don’t want to focus on those nine, no, I want us to focus on the one. You see ten lepers were healed that day as Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. One came back. I want us to be that one. To be the one who with the nine went to Jesus, and asked for pity, for mercy. To say with him, “Master, Jesus! Have pity on me.” But then to also be that one who came back to say, “Thank you.” But before we go further, before we see how we are to be like that one, let’s go back. How does this all start? With Jesus.
I mentioned it already, where does Luke say Jesus was headed? He was on his way to Jerusalem. Jesus was going to Jerusalem; he was on his way to make the sacrifice that had been appointed to him at the beginning of time. And, on his way, look what happened: he encountered death. 10 lepers, 10 men who were as good as dead. They were treated like dead men walking. They were outcasts, believed to be cursed by God, so despised and loathed that they were not allowed to live in any community with their own people. But here was Jesus.
Here was life, a breath of fresh air amid rotted leprous flesh, a light to eyes darkened by the blindness of their disease, a cure, a Savior. These ten knew who came their way and with broken voices cried out, “Jesus! Have pity!” And I wonder, did they expect him to stop? Did they think he would answer? I doubt it. Why would he bother? Why would he give his important time to men who were rejected by all others?
But isn’t that what Jesus does? Isn’t that why he came? He came for the rejected. He came for the despised, the weak, the worn, the sick, the sinner. Remember what Jesus once said, “It isn’t the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Here before him were the sick and they needed him, they cried out to him. “Lord, have pity!” And he answered. Life looked at these ten men and said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests,” and they were cleansed.
So, here we are, and we look uncannily like these ten lepers. How? We’re sick. We are diseased. Conceived that way, born that way. When my little boy, Gideon was born, not soon after he was washed in baptismal waters, why? Because that seemingly innocent, and, if I may say so myself, cute, little boy, was rotten. Sin festered in him. Sin festers in all of us. We are outcasts in God’s sight, unworthy of even a glance from him. And that same sin robs us of joy throughout our lives.
It robs us of joy as we see its effect on loved ones who succumb to diseases, as their minds slowly stop functioning and they lose all memory of us. Sin robs us of peace as we wonder when the next bad thing is going to fall apart in our already terrible lives. It robs us of comfort as we find ourselves living, relishing, in the gossip, in the lies, in the greed, that drive friends, siblings, or even spouses away from us. Sin robs us of a once perfect relationship that existed between us and a holy God and drives us to wonder if, when we die, where we will go, terrified, petrified of what we are leaving behind and paralyzed but what might lie ahead.
But what did we see, what did we see as ten pitiful men approached Jesus? Compassion. Healing. God cared. And his love for a sin-sick world is seen in that man, “on his way to Jerusalem.” Do you see him? There he is, your Savior. Call to him. “Jesus, have pity!” Hear his response. It isn’t go make a pilgrimage to some holy site. It isn’t, be better and try harder. His response isn’t “No.” His response is seen in his footsteps – he didn’t stop.
After having compassion on these ten men, he continued to Jerusalem. To fulfill and accomplish what he came to do, to rid the world of the sin that robs all of us of peace and joy. To make those waters of baptism mean something as, with words of power, they truly wash away all our sin. His response was his life for ours. He pitied us. He died for us. He died for you.
Now look at us. Clean. Holy. No longer an outcast in God’s sight, but a child, his child, pure and innocent. He looks at you with eyes of love. He points to a seat next to him and says this spot is for you, and when it’s time you’ll sit here with me for all eternity. He showers blessing upon blessing down upon you and, today above and beyond any other day, we pause to think about and reflect on those many blessings.
Because we are blessed, aren’t we? And we could talk about all our wonder physical blessings, the clothes, the food, family, friends, health, this country, this church, these are all good things: blessings from God. But you are blessed each of you in a way far greater, you know your Savior. God called you from death to life through Christ. He placed into you a faith that beats as one with your heart.
A faith that seeks to grow, evident, as you are sitting here tonight. A faith that burns brightly in a world covered by the darkness of sin. A faith that calls out to God when tempted or when in doubt. A faith that gives you assurance of future eternal blessings resting securely on the salvation won for you by Jesus. A faith that saves you. A faith that then says, “Thank you.”
This is where we seek to be like the one, the one who came back to Jesus. Ten men were healed we are told, but only one returned Picture it, he is walking with the other nine to go show himself to the priests, but then he sees his body healing before his very eyes, he stops cold, he’s cleansed, he’s whole. He couldn’t wait. He had to get back to Jesus. He had to say, “Thank you” – and look how he returned to do just that! He “came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.”
That one man, knew how his body was restored. He knew his cry for pity had been answered and he wanted to say thank you. And he wasn’t quiet about it was he? No, with a “loud voice” he praised God. He wasn’t proud either, he didn’t shake Jesus’ hand as if they were equals and a favor was just done that he would one day repay, no, he fell at Jesus’ feet. With a heart of faith, this one man showed his God honor and worshiped him in word and deed.
Tonight, let’s be like that one. Let’s say thank you. Let’s say thank you to our Savior who has made us whole, restoring our broken relationship with our God. Let’s say thank you to our Lord, who cleansed us of the disease of sin that infested our body and soul. Let’s say thank you to Christ, who with his final breath, breathed life into our perishing bodies of sin.
Tonight’ let’s be like that one and lift our voices up, loud, and full of joy, as we praise our God for his Son. And tomorrow, as we eat our meals and reflect on past, present, and future blessings, let’s humbly fall face down at God’s feet and say, “Thank you” as we see that all that we have comes from him. But you know what? Let’s be like the one in our lesson not just because it’s Thanksgiving, but every day. Because every day by God’s grace we live, we live looking forward to the seat that awaits us next to our eternal Father, a place at the table of the heavenly banquet for all eternity. A place that is ours thanks to a Savior who had mercy on us.
You know, a parent might be embarrassed or angry when their child doesn’t say, “thank you.” But when that child does say thank you, it’s hard not to be pleased. Like a parent, Jesus was pleased with the one who came back and thanked him, he knew that man’s trust in his saving power not only made him well, but led him to return and give thanks. And so, Jesus said this, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Tonight, we can rise and go knowing we have been made well, blessed physically, restored spiritually, safe, and secure eternally. Praise God. Be the one! Say thank you tonight, tomorrow, forever. Amen.