Christ approached an unnamed village, saw customary sight--begging lepers, 10. Standing legal 100 paces away, crying tome, tome (unclean, unclean). Leprosy is nauseating. Discolors-- skin from pink to brown to black. Often coupled with TB. Makes the warning outcry difficult, painful, often hoarse. Leprosy ulcerates into sores, death inevitable, often within 2 years. Ravages skin and bone. Christ saw 10 outcasts, fingerless hands, handless arms. Even eyes, ears, noses missing. Dirty, haggard, defeated, discouraged, downhearted, downtrodden outcasts, unwanted. No family, job, loved one, touching, home. Leprosy was aggravating and humiliating.
There was even a Samaritan in the 10. Adversity brings strange bedfellows. During floods, high water, even sheep and wolves huddle on high ground together. Enemies can be bound together by a common opponent. The text infers that Christ walked close to them, then saw them, and sent them to the priests for readmission to society, to prove they were clean. As they walked they were healed. Can you image? Ecstasy? Surprise? Gratitude should overwhelm? Healed, cured, whole, normal, healthy, restored. Can you imagine soundness returning to their bones? Eyes healed, skin healthy, sores removed. Tired of the itch, the fire of pain, and now their humiliation and separation is taken away in a single step. They can go home. Return to work. Can be a part of society again. All I've lost can be gained again. But we have trouble, do we not, imagining this?
But--only one turned back with gratitude. Does your blood boil? Where are the nine? Is there is any crime greater than ingratitude? Can you lose confidence in society any quicker? In a person? Where are the nine? Is our percentage better today? Do you give thanks? Are we different? If we do not appreciate what we have, would we appreciate miracles? Is it too much to expect these to turn back with thanks? Can any greater hurt be inflicted? Ingratitude. Is Christ hurting today? Do we hurt Christ? We may not have been cured from such a sad plight as leprosy, yet we are extremely blessed. And the question is, are we grateful? Can we see our blessings?
I. Common Blessings Are Commonly Overlooked
Daily God cares--sun, moon, apples, fruit, beauty, birds, flowers, trees, daily routines. The newness and challenge of each day. Getting out of bed. Friends. Days filled with lots of the best things in life, and they are free. Thankful for health, home, job, friends, freedom, country, church, fellowship--even in this church.
Little boy was visit a grouchy old man and asked, "What are you thankful for?" Nothing. Since it was TG day, the boy said, "You could be thankful you're not a turkey." Things could be worse. But every year is a good year. It is great to live, to serve, to be a Christian. We take for granted many things that are real blessings. The tempo and tenor of our lives is so far superior to most in our world.
II. Special Blessings are Soon Forgotten
All of us have great years. 1969 was good for Jan and me. Others have been special. 2002 will turn out to be a special year. The 10 lepers had a special blessing--the healing touch of the Master's hand.
I should be thankful. My children and grandchildren are near; I feel good; have reasonable health; blessed to serve; opportunities in life. To have been infirm but now well, near death but now alive, childless but now a parent, on and on, these are special blessings that should not be forgotten. To have been lost, but now saved. To have been out of Christ, but to now know truth and obediently be in Christ. Special blessings. To forget is sacrilege.
Special blessings come in special times, but they are not just for that time. Blessings represent trust for the future. Special blessings are pledges and inspirations for a greater life. What special blessings are yours? Raised in Christian home? Supportive family? Opportunity to hear and know the gospel? Christian education? Have mate interested in spiritual things? Knowing and fellowshiping with great Christian family? Unique opportunities or privileges? Special blessings can be so soon forgotten, ignored, overlooked.
III. The Greatest Blessing is Tragically Ignored
2 Cor. 9:15 is exalted language. Christ did more for us than he did for the 10 lepers. He saved us from a greater tragedy--he paid a greater price to rescue us. He saved them from a tragic circumstances, but he died for us. He saved us from sin, self, and damnation. Tragically, many wish for miracle when they most need salvation. Like the Jews of old, they seek for a sign, but not for salvation. In every congregation there are those who have heard the gospel at every service for years, but have never obeyed. Is our percentage better than the lepers? Do we have faith enough to ask but not enough to thank? Isn't thanksgiving, gratitude a function of faith? Why is there a Samaritan in this story? Why is he the hero?
Christ is not being cruel, not trying to belittle the Jews, but he was showing and illustrating a sad fact of human experience. Often religious men do not know, follow, honor the basic principles when the heathen do. Gratitude, mercy, forgiveness, privacy. What happens when men of the world are wiser than children of light? The light doesn't shine. Have you not seen non-Christians who were gracious, thankful, kind, and selfless?
Are we Christians really thankful for Christ? Are we saved merely to proceed merrily on our way? Are we debtor like Paul? What is our sense of obligation? Do we feel the debt? Do we really know what it is like to be saved? Or have we forgotten?
Another fact--many raised in the church do not appreciate grace as does the sinner rescued from the despair of this world. Paul continually described himself as the chief of sinners. Do we think we deserve salvation because of our faithfulness? What are we supposed to be learning? Can the Samaritan teach us?
The greatest blessings of our life! Are we thankful for great churches, preachers, elders? Are we aware of the significance of having so many Christian neighbors and friends? Have you ever lived in a town where there were only one or two Christian families? That will change your mind about small churches. What does it mean to have good parents, Christian homes, Lk. 12:48.
While our discussion is primarily about gratitude to God, think also for a moment about thanking one another. Thanks is bound by time. Say thank you now. Present the roses now. Be thankful, tell others, encourage them.
Imagine with me--were the nine ever thankful? Did they later wonder who their healer way? Did they ever try to find him and thank him? We do not know. But I do know this, Christ asked, "Where are the nine? Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine?"
Be grateful to God this day for the blessings of your life. And respond in gratitude to the savior--whether to be baptized for the salvation of sins, or to walk more closely.
Return to Sermon Index