Redeemer Lutheran Church Blog

Thanksgiving 2016 - St. Luke 17:11-19

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Posted: Thursday, November 24th, 2016 by Pastor Westgate

Happy Thanksgiving! Today we gather together to give God thanks for all the blessings He gives us. It’s not just about food, family, and football. It’s about all God’s good gifts and how we respond to them. That’s why the Pilgrims first celebrated it. That’s why the Founding Fathers established it. That’s why we’re gathered here today. So “Let us give thanks unto The Lord Our God. It is meet and right so to do.”

The Thankful Samaritan had lots to be thankful for. He’d been one of ten lepers. Lepers suffered from an awful skin disease that would someday kill them. It was so bad God had them live away from all other people – an illustration of what sin does to us in His sight. People might bring them stuff – and stay far away from them – but they had to fend for themselves as they watched themselves turn into figures right out of Halloween.

They heard stories about Jesus. They hoped He’d pass by them. Did they actually think He would? But then they heard He was coming. “Is it too good to be true? Could He really be coming? What should we do if He does? He is coming! There He is! Let’s ask Him to help us. Jesus-Master, have mercy upon us!”

“Going show yourselves to the priests.” “That’s it? Shouldn’t He touch us, or say something really cool? Shouldn’t He throw something at us or maybe tell us to bury ourselves in sand up to the neck or go wash in Jordan like Elisha told Naaman to do? Just ‘Going show yourselves to the priests’? Well, Moses does say to do that. We never thought we’d get the chance, but here we go!” And off they went to show themselves to the priests, whether in Jerusalem or somewhere else.

Sure enough, they were cleansed, cleansed the moment Jesus told them to go see the priests. The priests were surprised. They’d never seen anyone recover. When they heard how it happened they told the guys to just go back home. They never bothered to tell them to go thank Jesus. It never occurred to them to do it either. They just went home and were never heard from again. Those Jews should have known better. But they were just happy to not be lonely lepers anymore . . . and that was that.

But one knew better. And he was a Samaritan, hated by the Jews because his blood wasn’t pure Hebrew and his religion wasn’t pure either. Yet he’s the one that comes back to thank Jesus. All the way back he was praising God, which means he was telling what Jesus did for him and even realized Jesus is God. We know that because when he got to Him he fell at His feet. That’s how you treat God! He fell at His feet and thanked Him for all He had done for him.

He might have been thanking Him for far more than being cleansed of his leprosy though. Jesus doesn’t merely say “your faith has made you well.” He actually says, “Your faith has saved you.” The man was giving thanks that this Jesus was on His way up to Jerusalem to pardon his sins and give him everlasting life. After all, leprosy shows how rotten we are with sin. His cleansing shows what Jesus does for us on account of His Death and Resurrection.

He was thankful for both physical and spiritual blessings. He was thankful that his body was healed and that eternal life was his. This tells us something on this Thanksgiving Day. We should be thankful for both physical and spiritual blessings. Do not be like those nine guys who just went away and never bothered to thank Jesus. Thank Him every day for all your blessings. It is a sin to not thank Him. For we confess that we keep God’s Name holy when we thank Him for what He has given us.

So for what earthly blessings should we thank Him? The Catechism is our guide. Dr. Luther teaches us, when we say: “I believe in God The Father Almighty,” that we should thank Him that He made you in your mother’s womb and that He’s made all people and all creatures, and that He’s given you everything you need; yes He richly provides you with all you need for this body and life: your body and soul, eyes, ears, and all your members, your reason and all your senses, and He’s still taking care of them. You should thank Him that He gives you clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, animals, and everything you have. You should also thank Him that He defends you against all danger and guards and protects you from all evil. And He does it not because you deserve it, but because of His fatherly and divine goodness and mercy.

There’s more to thank Him for. Luther adds some more things when he teaches us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” He says daily bread is everything that deals with your body’s support and needs. What is that stuff? There’s some repeats here and some new stuff: food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and more.

When our nation instituted Thanksgiving Day, those were the sorts of things for which they were thankful and wanted us to be thankful for too. But it would be a sin to forget the spiritual gifts. We should give Him thanks that Our Lord Jesus Christ came down from His heavenly throne to take on our flesh in The Virgin’s womb, and that He has redeemed us lost and condemned sinners and purchased and won us from all sin, death, and Satan not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious Blood and His innocent suffering and death. He did it so we would belong to Him instead, a far better Master, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

But there’s more to thank Him for. After all, this salvation has to get to you somehow, because you can’t come to Jesus on your own or believe in Him. The Holy Spirit called you with The Gospel, the message of Christ Crucified, and He enlightens you with His gifts, is sanctifying and keeping you in the true faith. He not only does that with you but with every member of His Christian Church, and He keep us with Jesus in the one true faith. In this Church He daily and richly forgives all our sins, and on the Last Day He will raise you and all the dead and give eternal life to you and all those who believe in Christ.

Your God has done, still does, and yet will do all these things for you. Keep giving Him thanks. Don’t forget to do that. Thank Him at your daily meals. Thank Him when you go to bed. Thank Him when you come to church. Thank Him as you receive His Body and Blood. Thank Him by striving to please Him every day of your life, by showing your faith in Him with fervent love towards one another. “Bless we The Lord. Thanks be to God.”

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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