In the 17th chapter of Luke’s gospel, we read that there were 10 men who were lepers that had come to Christ and sought mercy to be cleansed from their incurable disease. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests in Jerusalem which could only mean that somewhere along the way, the leprosy would disappear and it did! One of them returned and fell at the feet of Jesus, giving thanks and glorifying God with a loud voice. Jesus then asked the most penetrating question: where are the nine? All 10 had received the same gracious blessing, yet only 1 returned to give thanks.
Today, America is celebrating a national holiday called Thanksgiving. The day will be spent by most travelling to visit family, consuming far more calories than is probably needed but nonetheless enjoyed, partaking of a supposed tryptophan-induced nap, watching football, and then scurrying off to get mauled by the crowds seeking to save $5 on a TV they cannot afford. (Have I exaggerated? Yes, some will probably save $10 on the TV.) And what’s missing? Thanks giving Have I exaggerated? No I don’t think so.
Why is it that the nine did not return to give thanks? Scripture does not say, but allow me to make a guess or two at the excuses they may have offered. #1- God does not require the expression of thanks since He already knows our hearts. #2- They were going to give thanks later, after they had gone to the priests in Jerusalem. #3- They got caught up in the elation of being cleansed and they forgot to give thanks. #4- They didn’t think that giving thanks was necessary because their cleansing was something that they were, as Jews, entitled to. #5- Their cleansing was not attributable to God, but was the result of their new exercise program (walking to Jerusalem) or some other natural occurrence. (OK, so I went past 2, but preachers aren’t very good with numbers and time, but I will be done in a minute.)
Why is it that there will be so little giving of thanks on this Thanksgiving? I suggest that the essence of possibilities #4 & 5 might be the reason given by many, if not most. While God often uses the agency of natural means to provide blessing to mankind, it is nonetheless His mercy and grace that become the source of our prosperity. And in order for mercy and grace to be truly mercy and grace, we cannot be entitled to anything but judgment. Nine turkeys failed to come back to Christ and give Him thanks for what He alone provided. Will you be one of the nine this Thanksgiving?