11 And it came to pass as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 And when He saw them, He said unto them, “Go, show yourselves unto the priests.” And it came to pass that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them when he saw that he was healed, turned back and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 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? 18 There are none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” 19 And He said unto him, “Arise; go thy way. Thy faith hath made thee whole.” Luke 17:11-19
Luther’s explanation to the Second Commandment reads: “We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”
But do we give to God thanks? Do we recognize God and honor him with thanksgiving and praise for all He does for us?
And the Bible calls upon us to “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).
And what does God do for us, Luther explains in connection with the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them; also clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life; that He defends me against all danger, and guards and protects me from all evil; and all this purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which it is my duty to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.”
The question is: Are we thankful? Do we give God the honor and praise due unto His name?
Consider the action of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11ff. They all had the dreaded disease of leprosy (Hansen’s disease) and, as a result, they were counted as unclean and were separated from God’s people and from the services of the temple. And, as the disease progressed, they would become more and more disfigured and might suffer paralysis, blindness, and other complications.
And then they saw Jesus! “And it came to pass as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’” (Luke 17:11-13).
Jesus’ answer called for faith in Him and His words because He didn’t instantly heal them; He commanded that they go show themselves to the priest, as commanded in Leviticus 13. In faith, they went and “as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14).
But what happened next? “And one of them when he saw that he was healed, turned back and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks; and he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:15-16).
And, what didn’t happen? The other nine (apparently Jews) didn’t come back and thank Jesus. They went on their way but failed to give to Jesus, God the Son in human flesh, the glory and praise due unto His name for this mighty and amazing act of mercy!
Jesus said (Luke 17:17-19): “‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.’ And He said unto him, ‘Arise; go thy way. Thy faith hath made thee whole.’”
Aren’t we a lot like the nine lepers? God created us and gave us life, and we take it all for granted and fail to honor and praise Him!
We are infected with sin and are unclean and separated from God and His kingdom, doomed to hell, and He sent His only-begotten Son to atone for our transgressions and to cleanse us from our sins, and we ignore Him.
Jesus, through the preaching of the Gospel, calls upon us to repent and look to Him in faith and promises us forgiveness and cleansing through faith in His name, but do we heed His call and believe His words? And, when we do look to Christ in faith and are justified and cleansed, do we thank Him and praise Him for graciously granting to us life and salvation? If so, why aren’t our churches filled with cleansed and pardoned sinners who have come to give God thanks?
When we examine ourselves, we must all admit to being ungrateful — for neglecting to give God the glory due unto His name for all He has done and still does for us, and especially for loving us and sending His Son to die for us and atone for our sins that we might be cleansed from our wickedness and be holy and clean in God’s sight through faith in Christ Jesus!
We, therefore, call upon Jesus to cleanse us from our sins. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). And why? Because we have “an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2).
And, again and again, Jesus forgives and cleanses us from our sins. Though we cannot see this forgiveness with our eyes, we take Jesus at His word and go in peace, confident that when we stand before God and the books are opened, we will not be found unclean and condemned but receive everlasting life.
It is as Jesus said in John 5:24: “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My Word and believeth in Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” Or, as St. Paul wrote to the Colossians in Colossians 1:21-23: “And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, even now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight, if ye continue grounded and settled in the faith, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard and which was preached to every creature under heaven.”
God grant to you mercy and cleansing through faith in the shed blood of Jesus, Your Savior, and the promises of His Word. Amen.
Cleanse my heart, O God, from my ungratefulness, and grant to me faith in Your mercy in Christ Jesus and a thankful heart for all Your benefits toward me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21). Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]