Luke 17:12 And as He entered a certain village, ten lepers who stood at a distance met Him;13and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
While everyone knows the story of the 10 lepers, how Jesus cleansed them of their disease, but how only one returned to give thanks. While everyone knows that the "moral" of the story is that in all things and for all things we should be thankful. The question that remains is why didnít the others give thanks? The answer to the question turns on the difference between Jews and Samaritans. There are many things that could be pointed to, but chief on any list, was that the Jews knew that they were the chosen people, and the Samaritans wished they were the chosen people. Its a small thing, but I think it has considerable bearing on our lives today. You see, as Christians, we too believe that we are Godís chosen people.
There is a pride that comes from being a chosen people, and thatís the problem. When God chose the Israel, he choose a group so small, it wasnít even counted as a group. When God promised to make Abraham a great nation, as yet Abraham didnít even have any children, even though he was very old. The point was that God was the same God who had made all creation out of nothing, the point was for people, that the descendants of Abraham to come to know God almighty, who could do such great things.
All along the way, pride would puff up the people, and they would say to themselves, because we are Godís chosen people, God owes us this or that. God is under an obligation to take care of us, and to give us what we want, after all, we are his chosen people. Its seems that the people did not marvel at the water that came from the rock in the desert, or the manna that fell from heaven, after all, God owes us all this and more, because we are his chosen people.
All of this brings us back to the 9 unthankful lepers in our story, if God owed them a healing, then there was no reason to give thanks, for though they were healed, all they could see is that God was paying a debt, that was long over due, and it was about time that it was paid.
We are infected with much the same sort of sentiment. It is taught to us from early on by our schools and our society, it is summarized in the words we all know: "We hold these truthís to be self evident, that all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness." It says quite plainly, we are the chosen people, and God owes us certain things. Unfortunately none of these things have been promised by God, and as for being the chosen people, that was an act of Godís grace that chose us. None of these things are found in the Bible as things we should expect, and things we are entitled. Or, quite simply this is one of Satanís larger deceptions.
What can we expect? We are all sinners. We live in a sinful world. The wages of sin is death. Suffering and sickness are also the results of sin. We can expect to be hungry, naked and to suffer. And if these things, that are the result of our sin, do not happen, it is not because God owes it to us. Rather, God is His love, has had mercy on us. Mercy, by definition is an undeserved gift. Grace by definition is a gift which is neither earned nor deserved. Thus, anytime we receive grace and mercy, it becomes an occasion for thanks, for our sins have not merited such kindness.
What can we expect? The Scriptures say: "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. [1Tim. 6:8]" And the standard reply remains, well I could never live with just that. And thatís the point, there are many who live without so much as food and clothing. We have so much more, not because we have a right to it, but simply because God has blessed us. It is for these blessings, that we give thanks. It is for the law that shows us our sin, and reveals Satanís deceptions that we give thanks, not because we enjoy feeling guilty, but because it shows us how much we need a Savior, and it make the good news of a savior the greatest treasure the world will ever see. And we give thanks for the word, for it has truly taught us that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
So we give thanks to God for his grace and mercy, and we follow our savior. After all, where else could we go, who else could we follow? Jesus is the way the truth and the life. Jesus is the vine that feeds the branches. Jesus is the Good shepherd tending the flock. So we give thanks.