Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever

     I am going to tell you a story from the bible, It comes from Luke Chapter 17: 11-19. This story introduces us to 10 mystery men, I say this because we don't know a lot about these men. They might come form totally different backgrounds, be of different ages, and for all we know they might not like each other very much. But, they have one thing in common, one experience that brings them all together. They had lived pretty regular, boring lives up until something happened, leprosy. In those days they were outcasts and made to leave the city, and somehow they ended up banding together. So, here they are together along a lonely, remote border between Samaria and Galilee with no hope for a cure. One day, hope appears. They have heard stories about Him, they have heard that He can do miraculous things. He has made the lame walk, given the blind sight, He has made the mute shout for joy, and unplugged the ears of the deaf. If He could do all of those things, maybe He could heal them. They cry out to Jesus, Master, Have mercy on us. He hears them, and sees their situation. Jesus simply tells them to go and show themselves to the priests, and there is only one reason Jesus would tell them to do this. They are the ones who declared them unclean and banished them and are the only ones who can declare them clean and allow them to return to their lives. As they are running to the priests they see themselves being healed. Nine of them keep running to the priests to get their gift of new life. One of them stops dead in his tracks and returns to Jesus, praises God in a loud voice, falls to his knees at Jesus' feet, and gives Him thanks and praise. It's very surprising to me that only one of the ten returned to do this, but even more surprising is the last thing we know about these men. The nine that didn't return were Jews, considered to be part of the people with a covenant with God. The one that returned to give Jesus praise was a Samaritan, supposedly cut off from God's covenant. The fact that Jesus was a Jew makes it even more surprising that a Samaritan would return and give thanks and praise. It is important to realize there was a difference in healing that day. The nine who kept going and never returned were looking for a physical healing, and Jesus gave them that. But, while their disease may have been healed, they still have to face the wages of sin someday. The healing they sought will only last for a relatively short time. The Samaritan who returned, yes, he has that healing that the other nine had, but he also realized that Jesus had a lot more to give. Jesus can give the kind of healing that will last for eternity. That is why the Samaritan returned to give thanks and praise, and that is why Jesus said rise and go, your faith has made you well. The Samaritan knows he doesn't deserve any of this because of who he is, but this is because of who Jesus is. So on this eve of Thanksgiving, it's appropriate to really look at what took place on that small border near Samaria and Galilee. And as we do, we realize that, the truth be told, we have a lot of similarities with the lepers in this story. So, as you have your Thanksgiving gatherings, remember Who it is that gives you everything, remember that you were once an outsider from God, Jesus Christ has lived, died, and risen again, and once again this night , has given you some pretty amazing gifts, so that you are no longer a stranger, but a redeemed child of God. Yes indeed, in the words of the 107th Psalm, we rejoice to say, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever...... AMEN 


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