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Luke 17:17

Posted 11/22/21, by Dan Vis

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it might be nice to do a little study into what Jesus said and taught about thankfulness.

The Psalms are full of praise and thanksgiving, and the Epistles exhort us to do more of the same--but what did Jesus have to say on the subject?

To take our first stab at the subject, let's begin with this verse from the book of Luke:

Luke 17:17
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

I'm sure you remember the context. While traveling through Samaria and Galilee on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus encountered ten lepers. And they begged Him to heal them.

Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests, and "it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed". Powerful point in that verse alone!

But for today, let's zoom in on the next couple verses, where we read that one of those men, as soon as he realized he was healed, turned and went back to find Jesus, praising God with "a loud voice". He "fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks" (Luke 17:16-1716 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?).

There it is: raw thankfulness.

And that's where Jesus asked the disciples--where are the other nine? Why has only one "returned to give glory to God"? From which we learn at least two things:

1) First, that thankfulness is not all that common. And especially in these last days, where Paul warns men would be unusually "unthankful" (II Timothy 3:1-21 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,).

2) Giving thanks is a powerful way to give glory to God. It's a way to acknowledge, and even point people to, the goodness of God. Or to quote Paul again, to do things "without murmurings and disputings" (ie, complaining) is to "shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14-1514 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;).

Even more exceptional, perhaps, is the fact that one man who did return was a Samaritan. A foreigner. I'm speculating now, but it's possible the others, presumably all Jews, may have felt some measure of entitlement. That they somehow deserved healing as a result of their lineage. Whereas this "stranger" no such assumptions, making him all that much more grateful.

Which leaves us with a good introductory question to explore our own heart. Are we truly grateful for the blessings of God, or live the more common life of unthankfulness. And connected, do we consistently give glory to God for His goodness, or are we quicker to grumble and complain?

And if we're not as thankful as we should be, is it because we somehow feel entitled to blessings? That we somehow deserve them--perhaps because of our walk with God?

Important questions. More on this subject tomorrow...

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Posted by Dan Vis on 11/28/21
Definitely Carla. If we're not careful, grumbling can become a habit, or personality trait. But, in the same way, gratitude can become more automatic, habitual as well. That's the goal! :)

Very possibly Anita, as they were no doubt familiar with the law. I'm sure they were thankful to some extent, and didn't have malicious intent. Just that the Samaritan was far more overwhelmed with gratitude. That's really what we want for our lives too I think. :)
Posted by Anita Huffman on 11/27/21
Dan, that's an interesting thought. Maybe the other nine were also eager to get the go-ahead from the priest to be able to return to their homes and families. I guess that would be thinking more of themselves than of gratefulness to Jesus too.
Posted by Carla Phillips on 11/26/21
I need to be more thankful, it's so easy when you are tired, have had a long day at work to complain and not be thankful, something I need to pray about daily 🙏
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/25/21
Actually, you are not the only one to wonder about that Anita. I've thought the same thing myself. But it does bring in another thought: The other nine were probably all worried about the priests opinion, whereas the Samaritan may have been less concerned. Church is important, but gratitude to Christ should always come first!
Posted by Anita Huffman on 11/24/21
Dan, I have always wondered about this story. Jesus told them all to go show themselves to the priest and as they went they were healed. I have thought, would it be better to continue on to the priest and obey what Jesus told me to do or to go back and thank Him? He seemed to commend the one who came back to thank Him. I think that decision would have caused me some stress. I think I would have run back to thank Him and apologized for not going on to the priest and then assure Him that I would go and do as He said. Itś always puzzled me that no one I have ever known seemed to worry about that!
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/23/21
That's an interesting perspective Violeta! It runs along closely with what struck me about this story too, but with some nice additional thoughts. Definitely got me thinking some more about this story!

I also liked your last sentence, and especially the last little bit about it really all boiling down to the state of the heart. So true...
Posted by Violeta on 11/22/21
All the 10 had lifted up their voices concerning their situation. It seems the Samaritan felt he had encoutered God and His goodness, and yes, that he didn't deserve it. Samaritans were converts - put in a strange land and then taught about God. Isn't it that at the church we also get used to God's goodness, especially if we're born into the church. We become lukewarm, that's our routine - God's always been with us. Then someone truly encounters God, joins and is incredibly hot, active etc. Some might not even like that :)
Thankfulness comes when we truly realize how good God really is, how much He cares and values, loves. It's about the state of the heart.
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/22/21
I think all of us probably receive many more blessings from heaven than we acknowledge Poly. I'm glad Jesus healed all 10, but I'd like to be the one who returned to give God thanks! Nice prayer.
Posted by Poly Mburu on 11/22/21
Have mercy on me Lord. Fill me with the Spirit of gratitude.


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