Thanksgiving Eve Trinity Lutheran Church
21 November 2007 Murdock, NE
Could have told you this would happen Jesus. I mean REALLY! It’s a no brainer!
Mistake number one: you purposely walk right by the leper colony. Don’t deny it. Everyone knows that’s the stupidest thing anyone could do. But you did. Didn’t your mother teach you to stay away from leper colonies? But you’re always the risk taker. Pushing the envelope. Mistake number two: you get within earshot, hear their cry for help, and you actually listen to them. And to top it all off mistake number three: you heal all ten of them willy-nilly. Good grief! What’s this Savor production of yours coming to?
And look at all the thanks it gets you! Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. How many don’t come back? Nine. That’s right! Nine! Nine never come back. Won’t even take a few minutes to say, “Thanks man! Really appreciate it! You’re a life saver!” No thank you card. No email note. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.
Maybe this teaches you a lesson Jesus! You just can’t go around indiscriminately loving and healing people, let alone lepers! You just can’t recklessly give out gifts to anybody and everybody that hangs around street corners. There have to be limits. Standards. Criteria. Percentages. Nine Jesus! Nine out of ten didn’t come back to even say “Thanks.”
Giving is a risky business. The high priestly gifts of Jesus and His high priestly benevolence do go unappreciated. Even abused. Sometimes down right rejected. Wouldn’t it be safer and smarter to not give at all then? Then you would not be discouraged by those who disappoint you or betray your giving!
But Jesus takes the risk. Takes the chance. Sets no conditions. Does no pre healing interviews to see who deserves what. Heals all ten. Then off He goes to do a Good Friday High Priestly dying for them and for all. For you and for me. And some, even many don’t’ give a flying . . . Nine to be precise.
And yet, unbelievably, inconceivably, Jesus abundantly gives. Dishes out healing for the lepers. Does a Calvary for every person in the world. Absolves everyone in His resurrection. Provides you with a home, hamburger, T-bones, deer jerky, and pork chops. A vegetable garden. A yard. Laptops. SUVs. Levis. Rocket Dogs. High def fifty- inch plasmas. Leather furniture. X-Box 360s. Oh yes, it looks like we’ve earned all this stuff all on our own. But its just the opposite. Jesus provides it all. And all this He does only out of fatherly divine mercy and goodness without any merit or worthiness in you or me.
One does return. A Samaritan. He believes in Jesus. Faith gives thanks. Faith praises God. “Now one of them when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at His feet giving Him thanks.” The least likely of the ten to appreciate the gift. But he does. And He knows who is the Giver. He believes in the Giver. Jesus, God in the flesh. He shows Himself to the only priest who counts: Jesus, the great High Priest! He returns to the temple where God dwells graciously on the earth: the body of Jesus!
Tonight we benefit from the example of the Samaritan’s faith and thanksgiving. Like the Samaritan we stand before Jesus tonight, every Sunday, and always as beggars with empty hands. To receive everything as an undeserved gift from Him. Thanksgiving shows that we have heard the gospel and have actually received God’s grace. That we believe that Jesus risked everything for us and for our salvation.
Jesus doesn’t benefit from our thanking Him. We do! The more we thank God the Father through Jesus Christ His dear Son, the more we recognize how generously and bountifully He deals with us.
Thanksgiving opens our hearts and minds to His hidden generosity. It increases our confidence in His magnificent giving and makes us more receptive to Him. It adjusts us to His marvelous giving.
No wonder the blessed apostle Paul urges us to present our petitions to God the Father with thanksgiving. For when we thank Him for all the blessings that we have received, we confidently ask Him for more and more (Phil 4:6). For the lepers it was healing. For you and me it’s the healing that comes from His Word of forgiveness and His Body and Blood in the Sacrament.
So, “get up. Go your way. Your faith in Jesus has made you well.” For anyone who is in Christ is a new creation; the old has passed the new has come.
Have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. In the Name of Jesus.