A Word for Today | Luke 17:15-19
The Protestant Reformers summarized the Christian life with the words guilt, grace, and gratitude. They meant that we begin guilty before God, are saved by a wonderful sovereign grace, and the result in our lives is thanksgiving to God. As Luke concluded his account of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers, he focused on how valuable, but also rare is true gratitude to Christ:
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well” (Lk. 17:15-19).
Some argue that verse 19 indicates that only this one grateful man was truly saved. I do not think that message is intended here at all. All ten of the lepers showed great faith. What it does show is how little gratitude wells up to Jesus in light of His wonderful saving works. Think of these ten men, who had been healed of so dreadful an affliction so that their lives were enormously blessed. Yet only one out of ten came back to give thanks to the Lord!
Their example prompts us to ask if we show gratitude to Christ for having saved us from sin. We have been forgiven, clothed in Christ’s own righteousness, and given the new birth in the Holy Spirit! So how do we rate when it comes to thanksgiving? Let’s ask some questions: Do we praise God in prayer? Do we thank him for our many blessings: for our health, provision, instruction and fellowship, a great purpose to life, redemption and forgiveness and power for righteousness, and the coming resurrection of the dead? That’s a lot to be thankful for! When we are faced with hard times, do we remember all the good things Christ has done for us? If we are not grateful for the salvation purchased with Jesus’ own blood, then we are as impoverished when it comes to spiritual riches as those nine who received salvation and went on their way without thanks.
One clue as to how to be more grateful to our Lord is to consider the one man who did give thanks. Luke tells us: “Now he was a Samaritan” ((Lk. 17:16). You may know that Samaritans were hated outcasts who were considered great sinners by the Jews. Here was a man without hope of salvation, but who trusted Jesus and was saved. Is there any wonder that he felt the need to thank Him? If we will remember that we too were totally undeserving of any blessing when Jesus died for our sins, this will help us not to be discontented when we do not get other things we desire. Jesus asked: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Lk. 17:17-18). So we should ask: What can I do to show gratitude to my Lord and Savior? The answer is here — give from your heart praise to God and thanksgiving to Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s Love,