November 24, 2011
TEXT: Deuteronomy 8:1-10/1 Timothy 2:1-4/Luke 17:11-19
GIVE THANKS
Vicar Alex Post

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:2).

Poor, outcast, unclean men with horrible skin conditions have very good reason to cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” A leper who is healed has a very good reason to give thanks. The Lord of Life restored the bodies of the ten men so that they were healed and holy according to the law of the Old Testament (Lv. 13).

You see, holiness cannot exist side by side with un-holiness, just as health cannot exist where there is sickness, and life cannot exist where there is death. God gave the Levitical laws to preserve His people in both body and soul. Those who had severe cases of leprosy were to be quarantined, outside of the camp (Lv. 13:45-46). Lepers not only had to dwell outside of the city in leper camps, but had to shout out, “Unclean! Unclean!” when anyone approached them. If anyone touched a leper, he became ceremonially unclean as well.

Yet Jesus Christ is the friend of lepers, just as He is the dinner companion of tax collectors, the associate of sinners, and the one who draws near to demoniacs. Jesus fulfills the Old Testament law when He tells the lepers: “Go and shows yourselves to the priests.” The priests were the intermediaries between God and men – the priests offered sacrifices out of obedience to the Law – and the priests also examined those with leprosy periodically to see if they were still unclean. Jesus is the New and Great High Priest, who takes away our diseases and our sins. He bore all disease and sin in His body on the cross.

November 24, 2011
TEXT: Deuteronomy 8:1-10/1 Timothy 2:1-4/Luke 17:11-19
GIVE THANKS
Vicar Alex Post

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:2).

Poor, outcast, unclean men with horrible skin conditions have very good reason to cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” A leper who is healed has a very good reason to give thanks. The Lord of Life restored the bodies of the ten men so that they were healed and holy according to the law of the Old Testament (Lv. 13).

You see, holiness cannot exist side by side with un-holiness, just as health cannot exist where there is sickness, and life cannot exist where there is death. God gave the Levitical laws to preserve His people in both body and soul. Those who had severe cases of leprosy were to be quarantined, outside of the camp (Lv. 13:45-46). Lepers not only had to dwell outside of the city in leper camps, but had to shout out, “Unclean! Unclean!” when anyone approached them. If anyone touched a leper, he became ceremonially unclean as well.

Yet Jesus Christ is the friend of lepers, just as He is the dinner companion of tax collectors, the associate of sinners, and the one who draws near to demoniacs. Jesus fulfills the Old Testament law when He tells the lepers: “Go and shows yourselves to the priests.” The priests were the intermediaries between God and men – the priests offered sacrifices out of obedience to the Law – and the priests also examined those with leprosy periodically to see if they were still unclean. Jesus is the New and Great High Priest, who takes away our diseases and our sins. He bore all disease and sin in His body on the cross.

That’s why it is so important to give glory to God with a loud voice, to turn around, to fall on the face in worship, and to give thanks. Sadly, many people today give thanks to themselves for their success and for their goods. Others give thanks to Mother Nature, or to their favorite political stars, or astrological signs, or friends and family. But true faith acknowledges the One True God of Creation as the Giver of all gifts. True faith gives thanks; true faith saves (Lk. 17:19). 

 9 lepers out of 10 went their merry way without turning around and glorifying their Healer. This sad situation shows that so many people not only do not appreciate their gifts and give thanks; they reject the greatest gift – the free gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. This “turning around” by the one leper was not just stopping in amazement, looking at his flesh, and seeing that it was healed, but a repentant “turning around” in faith! The one leper did not even make it to the temple to be examined by the priest. Instead, he turned around and “saw” by faith the true Priest, the New Temple, the One by whom true healing comes.

The Messiah had been prophesied as the one who would heal His people. That is why, when John the Baptist asked Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus answered him, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Lk. 7:22) These are the signs of the Kingdom of God. The tenth leper saw the signs; he beheld God in the form of a human; he realized this in faith; and he received his healing with thanksgiving.

When Jesus was walking along the border between Samaria and Galilee, He was treading the border of Samaritans and Jews, the very division between unclean and clean. The man who was healed was not just a leper, but also a Samaritan – someone who was doubly unclean. He saw his need for forgiveness and healing. He cried out: Lord, Master, have mercy.

We pray the same prayer when we sing, Kyrie, Eleison. Lord, have mercy on us. It is a cry for help, and it is a prayer of faith. We know and we see that God is good. So we ask for more blessings each day, knowing that our need is great, but that our Savior is greater.

The Old Testament Law demanded that lepers show themselves to the priest in order to be examined. But there was also the requirement that a male lamb without blemish be killed at the entrance of the tabernacle on the eighth day as a guilt offering, along with a grain offering. The priest would anoint the ear and the toe of the cleansed leper with the blood of the lamb that was sacrificed. In this way, the priest made atonement for the leper, and he was pronounced clean (Lev. 14).

Now, there is a new covenant. The Lamb without blemish is the man, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). This Lamb without blemish was not afraid to draw near and to touch those in need. He imparted cleanness and holiness to those who were trapped in leprosy, in sickness, and in unbelief. Jesus comes close to you and offers His blood as the ransom for your guilt.

When this unblemished Lamb was killed on the cross, His death became your entrance into new life. Jesus took your uncleanness and un-holiness and replaced them with His perfect holiness. The blood of this Lamb heals all your diseases. The death of this Lamb makes it so that you will never die eternally.

It is only natural to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name,” to “bring an offering and come into His courts!” (Ps. 96:8) The God who gives you the gift of salvation also gives you the faith to receive His sacrifice with thanksgiving! Along with the leper who was healed, we turn around in faith and run back to the God who saves. We are cleansed and forgiven, and as a result, we give glory to God with a loud voice, falling on our faces, and giving thanks.

The Greek word for “giving thanks” is eucharistone, which is where we get the word “Eucharist.” Jesus instituted a new covenant in His blood, the fulfillment of the Passover meal. Jesus “took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” (Lk. 22:17-20)

This meal of thanksgiving, the Lord’s Supper, is the way that Jesus continues to feed His Church and heal the sins and sicknesses of His people. God gathers His thankful people into this house of worship in order to feed us with the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for our forgiveness. The healing happens here. Our God strengthens you in body and soul unto life everlasting when He meets you here at His table.

This evening, many of us will welcome friends and relatives into our homes to enjoy a meal of Thanksgiving and to remember a year of God’s bountiful blessings. After you share a meal of remembrance at the table in your house, do not forget to turn around and return to God’s table in His house for the ongoing meal of remembrance (Lk. 22:19). Eating and drinking all the turkey, stuffing, milk, potatoes and pie makes you full and satisfied. Eating and drinking Christ’s Body and Blood at this table makes you holy and sanctified!

Jesus bid the Samaritan leper to rise and journey on his way – “your faith has saved you.” He also bids you to rise, since you have already been resurrected by Baptism into Christ’s death. He bids you to journey with Him to the cross, just as He bids you to come into His Church, where “He daily and richly forgives all [your] sins and the sins of all believers.”

As healed and forgiven children of God, we sing: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits!” (Ps. 103:2) As we eat and drink the daily bread that Jesus, the Bread of Life (Jn. 6:35) gives to us, we acknowledge His benefits before every meal: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:15-16) At the end of each meal, we remember the steadfast love and blessings that we receive from God’s hand: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Ps. 118:1, 136:1)

Each day is a blessing from God and a fresh opportunity to praise His name (Ps. 145:2). By prayer and reading God’s Word, we respond to the everlasting kindness of our Lord. Paul urges “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” (1 Tim. 2:1) By returning to the Lord a portion of our blessings, we help the poor and needy in our midst, just as God has so graciously helped us till now (1 Sam. 7:12).

The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3) He will continue to provide you with all good things: your food, drink, clothing, and healing of body and soul (Mt. 6:25-33). He has delivered us from sickness and death and given us healing and new life. “For all this it is [our] duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” Amen.

And the Lord, who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a