Luke 17:15-16 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.
If today is a national day of thanksgiving – why do we give thanks? What does it mean to give thanks? What are we thankful for? That is the question we hope to answer.
The first reason for giving thanks is simply because it’s the right thing to do – something that parents teach, that when you ask for something you say please, when you receive it you say thank you – so you might say please pass the turkey, and when you receive it, you say thank you – who ware you thanking, the person who passed you the turkey – why are you thanking them, because it was beyond your reach, and they stopped eating to do this for you. It might seem minor, insignificant, even trivial – but that’s how it all began – and we were careful to observe this, even if we didn’t understand, because if we failed to say please and thank you we would get the standard lecture about how this was expected, and if we didn’t say this, we could expect to get nothing. So from an early age we learned about the law of please and thank you, that this was something that was owed, and something we must pay.
The problem was that we did not like to acknowledge that we owed anything, or that there was any debt – we wanted to believe that if anything we were owed something – if we were hungry and we wanted the food, we earned it, we deserve it, so give it right now. And that’s how thank you became something we do for ourselves – we thank ourselves for all that we have done to earn and deserve all that we have – its as though we are patting ourselves on the back, saying to ourselves, well done – you deserve this, you’ve earned this. This makes a folly of thanksgiving, for all of this comes from sin, selfishness and self idolatry.
The answer to this are the commandments, for whenever we examine ourselves by the commandments we see that we are by nature spiritually blind, spiritually dead and enemies of God – we see that all we deserve is God’s wrath, God’s anger and eternal punishment – after all, the wages of sin is death – who wants wages such as these?
And that’s how the story turns, if the wages of sin is death, leprosy is the walking death, not only does it cut you off from the world, but it kills you, and so the lepers all desire to be healed. They all use the right words "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." But there is a difference, 9 lepers thought that God owed them mercy, that they deserved to be healed – and so they saw no reason to give thanks, after all they were only getting what they deserved, they were after all, the people of God.
And that’s were we come in – for there is a real danger that we might fall into the same sort of thing – believe that we have earned and deserve all that we have [and even more] – and that if there is any thanks – is thanking ourselves for all we have done for ourselves – for we also see ourselves as the people of God – and we forget how we came to be the people of God.
God did not choose us because we were so good, or so righteous, or better than most – but God had mercy on us, he gave us what we had neither earned or deserved – God took poor miserable sinners, and by the blood of Jesus washed away all our sins and made us a new creation. God gave us what we needed but could not obtain for ourselves, God have us salvation, God gave us what was required, but whose price we could not pay, God forgave us, paying our debts and freeing us from sin, death and the devil. And for all this, that would be enough to give God thanks and praise for this wonderful gift of salvation.
But this day, we not only see the life and salvation that are ours in Jesus Christ, but also all the other blessings that God has poured into our lives, and we thank the god who has created us, preserves us and redeems us, and we confess:
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.