Is... Part 2
Worship Is... Thanksgiving
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 12, 2003
Luke 17:11-19 (NLT)
Anybody have anything
special planned for the weekend? Anybody having a big Thanksgiving
dinner? What’s on the menu?
We’re going to be heading to Halifax this afternoon, coming back
Tuesday morning. So we’ll have our Thanksgiving dinner there with
Shera’s family. Thanksgiving with them is a little different than what
I grew up with. I grew up having turkey for Thanksgiving dinner… then
have roast beef. Apparently that’s because Shera’s father is British,
although I’m not sure why that matters since Thanksgiving isn’t really
that big a deal in Great Britain. So it’s not what I’m used to, but
that’s okay. Because after having turkey year after year, a change is
Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you’re bored with the traditional
Thanksgiving turkey dinner. So just in case you are, let me give you
some other uses for that turkey.
Other Ways To
Use the Thanksgiving Turkey:
10. As a blunt object to
fend off pesky family members
9. As a mask for Halloween
8. Toss the Carcass into a turkey farm to intimidate next
7. As a hood ornament
6. Turkey football
5. Throw out the window yelling, “You’re free! Fly! Fly!”
4. Bury in the yard for future midnight snacks
3. Secretly replace with Folger’s Turkey Crystals
2. Wear as a helmet, declaring, “I’m Turkeyman!”
1. Two words: Turkey Puppet
Just pretend with me that you’re already sitting at the table for
Thanksgiving Dinner. Granted, it’s a really strange table and you have
to sit in rows, and for some reason the food is going to be delayed for
a while. But one of the things that people sometimes do around the
table at Thanksgiving is tell each other some of the things they’re
thankful for. So real quick, tell us some things you’re thankful for
It’s good to take the time to give thanks. I remember as a kid being
forced to write “thank you” notes after Christmas or Birthdays. It’s an
important thing to give thanks. And when it comes to giving thanks to
God for the blessing He gives us, it’s actually a form of worship.
In the passage from the Bible that Lynn read for us earlier we learned
about a group of ten men who all had leprosy. And Jesus healed them
all. But only one of them took the time to return to Jesus and worship
Him with thanksgiving for what Jesus had done for Him.
In PowerPoint, I have some rather graphic images of what leprosy does
to a person. If you don’t want to see them, you may want to close your
eyes or look away for a minute. These are some of the pictures I found
on the Internet. And these are actually some of the milder ones. I
found some that I couldn’t stand looking at myself… pictures of people
who are so disfigured that they’ll unrecognizable. Leprosy had
literally eaten away their faces.
Okay, the images are gone. You can open your eyes now.
In the movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” there’s a funny little
scene where Friar Tuck is working undercover with Azeem, who’s played
by Morgan Freeman. They don’t want Azeem to be recognized, so they wrap
him up in cloth and pretend that he’s a leper. Watch.
VIDEO CLIP ("Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves")
Notice how quickly the guard retreated when he thought he was near a
leper. If that’s what it was like in the Middle Ages, it was even worse
in the time of Christ. So let’s try to get an understanding of the
Today when we talk about leprosy, we’re referring to Hansen’s disease
(a term I’m not particularly fond of), a very specific skin disease.
But in the time of Christ, it referred to a variety of skin disorders.
And there were some rather severe social connotations for people who
had leprosy. They became social outcasts. It would be as if you had
AIDS about fifteen or twenty years ago. I don’t know about you, but the
first time I even heard of AIDS was when I heard that Rock Hudson had
it. Not many other people had heard of it at that time either, but once
the news about Rock Hudson got out it became a household word.
And the thing I remember about that time is that everyone was paranoid
about catching AIDS. We were all worried, “Can I catch it from shaking
hands? What about if I breathe the same air? Can I get it through
kissing? If I share a drink with someone, am I at risk?” We didn’t have
much education about AIDS at that time, and so we really didn’t have a
good understanding about it.
So people who had AIDS were made social outcasts, much in the same way
that lepers were made social outcasts in Jesus’ day. Except there were
some rather strict rules that lepers had to follow in how they lived.
They had to live outside city walls. They had to wear torn clothes.
They couldn’t comb their hair. They had to keep the lower part of their
face covered. And they had to stay at least 100 paces from anyone who
didn’t have leprosy. In fact, to make sure nobody got too close, they
were required to yell “Unclean” whenever they saw someone approaching
If you had leprosy, everyone knew you had it. It was a very isolating,
So we have these ten lepers. They had heard that Jesus was traveling
nearby, and they had heard of his miraculous powers, so they all went
to see Him, hoping to be healed. When they found Him, they called out
to Him… and remember they had to do this from a distance… “Jesus,
Master, have mercy on us!”
Jesus saw them and heard their cries, and He told them to go show
themselves to the priests who had the authority to declare if they were
“clean” or “unclean”. And while they were going to see the priest,
before they even got there, they were all healed. But only one came
back to Jesus to thank Him.
This one man came back to Jesus and literally threw himself at Jesus’
feet, thanking Him for what He had done. But where were the other nine?
Weren’t they grateful, too? Or did they just not understand the
importance of saying “Thank you?”
This morning we’re going to take a closer look at this story and
identify three things that the other nine lepers confused thankfulness
with. We’re going to look at what we have to be thankful for, and we’re
going to look at how we can show our gratitude to Jesus for what He has
done for us and how in fact this is a form of worship.
Let’s start with the things we need to be careful not to confuse
Thankfulness Is Not The Same As...
You’ll notice that the
Bible tells us that these ten lepers all “...stood at a distance...”
when they located Jesus. That was the appropriate thing for them to do.
They had enough respect for Jesus to keep the law in His presence and
to not risk passing the disease on to Him. They also had enough respect
for Jesus to believe that He could actually do something about their
condition. They did have a respect for Jesus.
And most people today have a certain respect for Him. If they’re smart
enough to believe in Jesus… if they’re smart enough to believe in God
(90% of North Americans believe there is a God), whether they have a
relationship with Him or not, they have a respect for Him.
Even when people blame God for things (“Why did God let this happen?
Why did He do this, and why didn’t He do that in my life?”) there’s
behind that a certain amount of respect for God because it acknowledges
that He is ultimately in control.
But respect does not automatically guarantee thankfulness. All ten of
these men showed a level of respect for Jesus, but only one of them was
All ten recognized Jesus
for who He was and His place in society. They addressed Him as “Jesus,
Master...” They knew His name, and they recognized His authority by
calling Him “Master.”
I’ve heard different times that Mohammed Ali is the most recognized
face in the world. And Michael Jordan isn’t far behind. I don’t know,
maybe O.J. Simpson has moved into that position now. And the media is
mostly responsible for that.
But in Jesus’ day, there was no media coverage. So if Jesus was healing
somebody there weren’t 87 cameras around recording what was happening
and it wasn’t on the evening news that night. It got out by word of
mouth. And through this word of mouth these ten lepers, even though
they were social outcasts, had heard of some of the miracles Jesus had
In Luke (prior chapters):
ch.4 - healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever.
ch.5 - healed a man with leprosy.
ch.5 - healed a man who was paralyzed.
ch.6 - healed a man with deformed hand.
ch.7 - brought a man who was dead back to life.
ch.8 - healed a man who was demon possessed.
ch.8 - brought a little girl back to life.
ch.9 - fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish.
ch.10 - Gave disciples the power of healing.
ch.13 - Healed a woman who was handicapped in her back for 18 years.
ch.14 - Healed a man of the disease of dropsy.
These lepers had heard of some of these miracles, and they recognized
that no one healed like Jesus. Nobody had the ability that Jesus had.
Here we are now in 2003, and a lot of people recognize that Jesus
Christ is pretty spectacular. A lot of people, again they may not have
a personal relationship with Him, but they recognize Him as the best
person who ever lived. They know He was a great teacher. They may call
Him a miracle-worker, or a moral leader/reformer. They may even
recognize Him as God.
But just because we recognize who Jesus is doesn’t mean we have
thankfulness for Him. All ten lepers recognized who Jesus was, but only
one was thankful.
Jesus told the ten
lepers, “I want you to go to the Jewish leaders, the priests, and I
want you to show them that you are healed.” He told them to do this
because in their culture the priests were the ones that could declare
someone clean and unclean.
It would be as if Jesus came to you if you were dying with AIDS or
cancer or some other disease and told you to go to the doctor and show
him that you’re completely healed. And these guys still had sores on
their bodies. It was clear that they weren’t healed at all. But in the
process of being obedient to God and following His directions they were
healed. Somewhere while they were walking to see the high priest, they
These ten lepers were obedient to Jesus. They did what they were told
to do. But they were not all grateful. Last week we talked about how
part of worship is obedience. And that’s true, it is. If you worship
God, then you will be Obedient to His will. Worship equals obedience,
but obedience does not equal worship. Catch the difference? Just
because you’re doing all the things that you’re supposed to do doesn’t
mean that you’re worshipping God that you’re grateful to God for what
He’s doing in your life. You may simply have a “grin and bear it” type
of obedience to Him.
But this one man, this Samaritan leper, did not confuse thankfulness
with those three things. And he did not refuse to Jesus the
thankfulness that was due Him.
Well, what do we have to be thankful for? We shared some ideas earlier.
But now let me just give you four general reasons we have to be
thankful to Jesus.
Reasons To Be Thankful:
1. For His
Romans 1:16 (NLT)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about
Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…
It’s the power of God that makes it possible for us to have hope for
today and tomorrow. It’s the power of God that makes eternity in heaven
a reality for those of us to know and love Him.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear
and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
It’s the power of God that makes it possible for us to deal with the
trials and temptations of everyday life. His power makes it possible
for us to overcome every obstacle that comes our way.
“It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper
~ Jeremy Taylor
2. For His
Psalm 139:7-12 (NLT)
I can never escape from your spirit! I can
never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the
wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there
your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask
the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but
even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as
bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.
Bottom line: We can’t escape His presence.
A man by the name of Izaak Walton said,
“God has only two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in meek and
Be thankful for God’s presence and for the fact that nothing can ever
separate you from Him.
3. For His
Thank Him for His
provisions… for the way He provides for our needs.
Psalm 23:1 (NLT)
The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I
Luke 12:22-31 (NLT)
Then turning to his disciples, Jesus said,
“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life--whether you have
enough food to eat or clothes to wear. For life consists of far more
than food and clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t need to plant or
harvest or put food in barns because God feeds them. And you are far
more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single
moment to your life? Of course not! And if worry can’t do little things
like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their
clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully
as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here
today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so
little faith! And don’t worry about food--what to eat and drink. Don’t
worry whether God will provide it for you. These things dominate the
thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. He
will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of
God your primary concern.
Trust Him to provide, because He will.
4. For His
1 Corinthians 15:56-57
For sin is the sting that results in death,
and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory
over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Jesus Christ is the only reason we can enjoy a relationship with God
He is the reason we don’t need to fear death, but can have the
assurance that when we die we will go to live with Him forever. We can
be thankful for that. We can be thankful for His love for us. We can be
thankful for His guidance and wisdom. And we can be thankful for the
sacrifices He has made for us. Be thankful for who He is. Be thankful
for His person.
So we’ve got a lot to thank Jesus for. But how do we go about thanking
How Do We Thank God?
A. Proclaim the
things that God has done. (v.15)
This leper was excited.
He came back and literally shouted what Jesus had done. But the key
isn’t that you express yourself a certain way. That would be an insult
to God’s creativity. The key is that you just have to thank God. And
don’t be shy about doing it publicly. Let people know how God has
the things that God has done. (v.15)
The reason this man was
able to proclaim what Jesus had done was because he recognized what
Jesus had done. He didn’t take it for granted, as it seems the other
nine lepers did. He recognized the incredible blessing Jesus has given
Him and he rushed back to express his gratitude.
This came out of an American magazine a few years ago:
“Shall I thank God this Thanksgiving?
Why was I born at this particular time in the history of the world? Why
was I born in a spotless delivery room in an American hospital instead
of a steaming shelter in the dark jungles of the Amazon, Or a mud hut
Why did I have the privilege of going to school with capable
instructors while millions around the world, even without a school
book, sit on a dirt floor listening to a missionary to pick up anything
How does it happen that my children are tucked into warm beds at night
with clean white sheets while millions of babies in the world will lie
in cold rooms, many in their own filth and vomit?
Why can I sit down to a warm meal whenever I want to and eat too much
when millions will know all of their life the gnawing pangs of hunger?
Do I deserve to share in such wealth?
By what right?
Why me and not countless other millions?
Why was I born in a land that I didn’t build, and a prosperity that I
didn’t create, and enjoy a freedom that I didn’t establish?
Why am I an American sitting comfortably in my living room this
Thanksgiving, rather than an Indian squatting in a dark corner of some
infested alley in Calcutta, shivering in the cold? Or Cambodian in the
rubble of what used to be my home? Or Somalian caught in the midst of a
terrible civil war?
Do I deserve all that I have? By what right do I have it?”
For us to be grateful, I think we need to see what we have through the
eyes of someone who doesn’t have the wealth that we have. Most if not
all of us came here this morning in a car. Do you realize that the
majority of the world doesn’t have that option?
We’re very lucky and blessed here in a variety of ways. Do you
C. Adore God
for what He’s done. (v.16)
Luke 17:16 (NLT)
He fell face down on the ground at Jesus’
feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.
This was an expression of adoration. And what’s extra meaningful here
is that this man was a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans didn’t exactly
get along. In fact, they were repulsed by each other. But despite this
fact, this Samaritan leper threw himself in adoration at the feet of
this Jewish rabbi who had healed him. His gratefulness to Jesus moved
him to a point where he felt he absolutely had to throw himself at
Jesus’ feet in grateful praise and adoration.
Are there ever times in your life when you kneel before God? Maybe
beside your bed or at a chair, and you say, “God, I know that You’re in
control. And this is just a physical way of me saying, `Lord, I humble
myself before You. Everything I am, everything I have... it’s all
Yeah, I know that kneeling is uncomfortable, and it’s just a physical
position. Kneeling doesn’t have any power in and of itself. But let me
tell you, kneeling physically before God can help you to kneel
spiritually. It can reinforce in you a spirit of humility, submission,
respect and adoration. It can be a physical expression of worship to
We’re going to pick up
here next week when we talk about “Worship Is… Adoration.” For now, let
me encourage you not to get so caught up in the activities of the day
that you forget to thank the one who is truly responsible for all the
blessing we enjoy. Take a few minutes sometime today to thank God for
what He has done for you.