One of my favorite Scriptures about thanksgiving is found in Luke 17. There we read about the time Jesus healed ten men who were suffering from leprosy. These ten men came as close to Jesus as they dared. By Old Testament law, they had to remain distant from others so as not to infect anyone else. (Does this sound a bit like life in 2020?). These men shouted to Jesus, asking for pity. They did not specify exactly what they wanted him to do, but there is little doubt what they were asking from this teacher who had gained quite a reputation as a miraculous healer. They wanted their health back. They wanted to be able to go back to society, back to their family and friends, back to their jobs. They wanted their lives back.
Jesus gave them what they wanted, but in a roundabout way. He put their faith to the test by telling them to go and show themselves to the priests, who acted as health inspectors in those times. In other words, he told them to behave as if they had already been healed. They all passed this test of faith, and as they obeyed by starting off for the priests, they were healed.
One of these men, when he noticed that he was healed, ran back to Jesus. Praising God in a loud voice, he threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
At this point, Luke mentions that this man was a Samaritan. This is noteworthy, since Jews and Samaritans normally despised each other. The other nine were presumably Jewish, therefore the most unlikely person in the whole group is the only one who came back to thank his Jewish healer.
Jesus seems to be disappointed that no one else came back to give thanks. He recognizes the uncommon faith expressed by this lone man. Jesus then praises the man for his faith and sends him on his way.
From this text we can learn some important principles of thanksgiving.
First, let us recognize that it is important to give thanks immediately. If we don’t give thanks quickly, we sometimes end up not giving thanks at all.
Secondly, we need to see that true thanksgiving is rare. Many people focus their attention so much on the blessings they receive that they have little attention left to give to the One who gives the blessing!
Third, we must understand that Jesus expects us to be thankful. Our gratitude must be expressed in our prayers, our singing, our conversations and our general attitude about life. Even in the year 2020, when so many things went so terribly wrong, we have much to be thankful for!
Let’s try to be especially thankful this Thanksgiving. Like the old hymn says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.”