" For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
Sunday of the Thankful Samaritan
September 2, 2018
Saint Luke 17:11–19
Thankfulness Means Asking for More
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Where is the surprise in this incident in Jesus' life?
11On another occasion, as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He was passing along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12When He entered a certain village, ten men with leprosy met Him. Standing at a distance, 13they called out loudly, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When He saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they went away they were cleansed. 15One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice. 16He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Jesus responded, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19Then He said to him, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has saved you.” (Luke 17:11–19 EHV)
The surprise in this story isn't that Jesus heals these lepers. We know that Jesus is kind and we expect good things from Him.
The surprise isn't that the other nine listened to Jesus and went to the priests in Jerusalem to be certified clean and restored to health (a process that took at least a week to finish). Jesus wasn't surprised; He knew exactly where they were. He also knew that at this time their praise was not to the living God. It's wise to assume that the nine praised Jesus at a great miracle worker—how could they not—but not as the divine Son of God. Otherwise, they would have returned to kneel down at His holy feet.
The surprise is that the one who returned to praise the true God was brought up in a false religion that rejected the true God. The Samaritans rejected any Savior who comes from the Jews. Samaritans rejected worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, which meant they rejected what the Temple foreshadowed. The Temple was the place where God chose to be visibly present on earth, so we hear in the Old Testament:
2And the priests could not enter [the Temple] the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house. 3When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:2–3 ESV)
The Temple pointed ahead to a time when our good Lord would dwell on earth visibly in the flesh. The Temple pointed right at Jesus. The place where thousands of sacrifices had been offered pointed to the Savior Jesus who laid down His life once and for all. His life sacrificed on the cross heals us from the disease of our sin.
This divine word of sacrifice that saves creates trust in our Savior. His word creates trust in Jesus in the most surprising places, like the thankful leper. And this trust creates true thanksgiving.
In a few months we do our annual Thanksgiving. But mostly it'll be a search for feelings and looking inside ourselves to find our happy places: “I'm thankful for …” Our world and culture confuses thankfulness into a feeling we feel once in a while.
Thankfulness is not a sentiment; it is an action. True thanksfulness means going back for more. You can text your grandpa THX [for the Legos] and/or you can play with the Lego and ask him for more. I hope you do both, but your grandpa going to know your thanks by your interest and desire for more Legos. Not asking for more like a brat screaming for candy, but as children asking for more delicious turkey, more savory broccoli, more sweet potatoes.
Like baptized and saved children who are now wise, we ask for more, more of His Word, more of His Communion. Indeed another name for Holy Communion is the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving.
Like the thankful Samaritan, we go back to Jesus, glorifying Him, and asking for more Him.
14Therefore, since we have a great high priest, who has gone through the heavens, namely, Jesus the Son of God, let us continue to hold on to our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. 16So let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14–16 ESV)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks be to God!