(Thinking about Thanksgiving next week made me remember a sermon I did a few years ago. Here are some excerpts)
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Who do we learn about here? Jesus? No, not really. We do see His compassion, but the focus isn’t really on Him. We learn about the men Jesus healed. We learn our lessons from the lepers.
9 of them did exactly what Jesus told them to do.
9 of them did exactly what the Law told them to do.
9 of them didn’t do the right thing.
The Old Testament is full of teachings about how God was frustrated with the worship of His people. They came and did sacrifices, kept feast days, and did all the rituals they were asked to do, yet they did not give Him their hearts. They did not truly worship Him. They only “did all the right things.” Yet in doing those “right things,” they missed the main thing, God Himself.
We can do “right things” and still be wrong.
Back to the lepers…
1 of them was a foreigner.
1 of them came back to thank Jesus.
1 of them threw himself at Jesus’ feet and praised God.
Notice that this is no “High Five and Hallelujah” response, no “Thanks good buddy!”. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet. In the Bible when people come to realize that they are in the presence of God, they throw themselves at His feet. This is reverence, this is holy fear. Jesus is not our buddy. He is our Lord.
9 found healing. 1 found Jesus.
Our world needs more than the right doctrine. Our world needs Jesus.
Please note that I said “more than” right doctrine. We need the right doctrine. But we can bring them in and teach them to stop smoking and drinking and cussing and dancing, we can teach them to come to church on Sundays, we can even get them to take a dunk under the water. But if we don’t get them to Jesus, we haven’t done them any good at all!
There’s something else here. This passage teaches us about something really important: Thankfulness.
What would it be like to be healed from a terrible illness? Like leprosy. How would we react? Would we throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet? What would it be like to be healed from a terminal illness, one that was going to take our very lives? Like AIDS. Like cancer.
How long has it been since you threw yourself at God’s feet?