October 10, 2010
Read Luke 17:11-19.
This text is more complicated than it sounds. On the surface, it seems like a simple story about remembering to say thank you. However, four different themes weave through this text. To really get the full picture, we need to see and understand each color of thread.
The most obvious theme is thankfulness. Jesus’ action in our lives calls for our joyful gratitude. Ten people are healed. One comes back. Nine go on their way, maybe not noticing their healing yet, maybe in a hurry to experience the benefits of healing (seeing their family, reintegrating into society, entering the town). Only one shows thanks. Martin Luther said the essence of worship is the one leper who returned to give thanks.
We live in an era where most people in developed nations have an attitude of entitlement. We believe that everything is supposed to go our way. We believe we are supposed to get everything we want. And if we don’t, if life isn’t going our way, then something’s wrong with the world. “Why is it raining on my birthday? It’s not fair.” A good income is a right not a blessing. Health and happiness are standard expectations, and if we don’t have them, we pout. In general, we have a glaring lack of gratitude for the many, many blessings we experience.
On the other hand, this leper who was healed is extreme in his expression of thanks. Did you notice that? He shouts for joy at the top of his voice. He falls on his face at Jesus’ feet. He praises God openly.
When was the last time you shouted for joy?
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