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Gratitude For Grace

January 24, 2021 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Gratitude Verse: Luke 17:11–17:19

Theme: God’s kindness is designed to make us more grateful for the Giver than the gift.

Introduction: Jesus had, for nearly three years, poured Himself out on behalf of the Jewish people – healing, providing, teaching, loving – showing grace and mercy upon the demonized, diseased, deprived, and destitute. Yet, the response by the Jews was to simply require more – more miracles, more signs, more displays of God’s kindness, dismissing what had been seen as insufficient. Jesus here provides an account of the uniqueness of the proper response to the kindness of God – serving as a “microcosm” of what He encountered throughout Israel. In our text we see three things: 1) The Application of Divine Kindness; 2) The Appreciation for Divine Kindness; and, 3) The Accomplishment of Divine Kindness. In all of these, the emphasis of Jesus' story is that “God’s kindness is designed to make us more grateful for the Giver than the gift.” …

I. The Application of Divine Kindness – 17:11-14

A. The Devastation in Sin – vv. 11-12

  • This is yet another section that reminds us that Jesus had set His face to providing the atonement for sin that would save us - “While He was on the way the Jerusalem …” – cp. Luke 9:52-53; 13:22.
  • It is therefore fitting that Jesus provide yet another demonstration of His intention to save sinners from the great devastation brought by sin. 
  • The text informs us “He was passing between Samaria and Galilee” – likely a reference to His passing through the Valley of Jezreel on the way to Jerusalem.
  • “As He entered a village …” – it didn’t matter which village this was – what happened there was important, not specifically where it happened.
  • We are told that “ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him” – 
  1. Leprosy was a disease that carried horrible social and physical consequences – both the banishment from society and decay to the body.
  2. In every way, a leper was an outcast – beyond the hope of help from the Pharisees that merely intensified the ostracism; from the priests that sustained the biblical responsibility to enforce the standards of the Scriptures – cp. Leviticus 13:45-46.
  3. He was barred from both the Temple and the synagogues – without hope and without friend.
  4. Leprosy is commonly compared to the problem of sin – the ravages to the body and the vile, putrid effects on the body reflect the vile hold that sin has on our souls.

B. The Desperation of Sinners – v. 13

  • All ten of these men had been completely hopeless from the day that this dread disease had afflicted them – watching the disease destroy their lives as it spread, claiming more and more of their bodies.
  • However, when they saw Jesus, theirs was an immediate hope – “… and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’”
  • This is the only occasion when someone other than the disciples called Jesus “Master” – an indication of their confidence in His power to heal them.
  • In their completely desperate condition – they called on Jesus to do something extraordinary and provide them with compassion, pity, and power to heal them.
  • They desired that he simply provide them with a reset, a do-over, a return to “normalcy” so that they could be as everyone else.

C. The Display by the Savior – v. 14

  • Yet, Jesus had a greater agenda for them and decided to provide them with mercy and kindness – “When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’”
  • This required a level of cooperation on their part in order for the healing to occur. 
  • When they were willing to do as Jesus told them, His power was made available to them – “And as they were going, they were cleansed.”
  • Jesus’ kindness to them was a beginning for them to respond to Him and His mercy with something greater than a return to normalcy – He desired that they would repent and truly know the joy of His full blessing – cp. Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 2:1-3.

Application:

  1. How desperate are you to overcome your sin and its effects? 
  2. When was the last time that you were struck with the exceeding sinfulness of sin and sought to change through the mercy and grace of what you can find in Christ?

II. The Appreciation for Divine Kindness – 17:15-16

A. The Recognition of Worthiness of Christ – v. 15

  • Sadly, only a very few people who gain the true benefits of the kindness of the Lord toward them – despite that He demonstrates it toward us all through His common grace.
  • You would think that when such a magnitude of kindness was demonstrated, the lepers in one great motion would fall before Christ in recognition of His worthiness.
  • Sadly, however, the majority of them were satisfied with their restoration to “normalcy.”
  • Yet we are told that “one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back …” and came to Christ.
  • The very first indication that this man’s faith would prove eternally blessed was that he recognized the worthiness of Christ – “… glorifying God with a loud voice.”
  • The point in this is that this leper wasn’t merely thankful for the benefits of God’s kindness, he was thankful for God Himself and returned “glorifying God.”
  • “Glorifying” [δοξάζω] – means to “clothe in splendor” to “enhance the greatness” of someone with honor.
  • The detail of “… a loud voice …” emphasizes the strong emotion that the man possessed in response to what He understood to be God’s power exhibited on His behalf.

B. The Realization of Worthlessness before Christ – v. 16a

  • The impact of this kindness was to cause him to understand his unworthiness – displayed through his posture – “… and he fell on his face at His [Jesus] feet.”
  • This homage and self-effacing act was an expression of understanding of his unworthiness in the face of God’s kindness – cp. John 16:8.
  • When the power of God is exhibited on our behalf – the comprehension of what has happened causes an overwhelming sense of grace and compassion of which we are unworthy – cp. Luke 5:8.

C. The Rehearsal of Work of Christ – v. 16b

  • In the expression “… giving thanks to Him” we see the identification for specifically what Christ had done in healing him.
  • He was aware that Jesus was God and that the power exerted by Christ was the power of God.
  • “Giving thanks” [εὐχαριστέω] – refers to showing “that one is under obligation, be thankful, feel obligated to thank.”.
  • This leper felt “much obliged” in light of what Jesus had done for him – and came to express homage and devotion to Jesus.
  • Our own gratitude for God’s unmerited favor of us is at the heart of our worship as we reflect upon the work of Christ – celebrating “Eucharist” or the Lord’s Table – the evidence of the greatest expression of divine kindness ever!
  • We are then shown the wideness of God’s mercy – “And he was a Samaritan.” – this was the very last person that the Jewish people would have thought would be shown the kindness of the Lord.

Application:

  1. How can you “glorify God” for the things that He has done for you?
  2. What is the significance of the one leper who returned being a Samaritan? Why is this important to the story? 

III. The Accomplishment of Divine Kindness – 17:17-19

A. The Focus of God’s Kindness – vv. 17-18

  • Jesus delays His response to this leper’s worship by highlighting the uniqueness of this Samaritan’s response – “Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine – where are they?’”
  • The response of “the nine” was selfish and temporal – they are like many of us who ask God for things and when He grants us what we ask of Him, we take it and run without coming back to worship Him for His kindness.
  • “Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” - we benefit from His kindness and never give Him another thought – having an attitude similar to what is described earlier in the text where we don’t thank someone who merely does his duty – thinking it unjust that they had been dealt the disease of leprosy at all – cp. Luke 15:9-10.
  • Yet, God’s purpose of extending His kindness toward us is to draw us to Himself; the failure of which compounds our accountability to Him.

B. The Fulfillment of God’s Kindness – v. 19

  • Ultimately, when one responds to the kindness of God by humbling himself by acknowledging his unworthiness, repenting of sin and calling upon God for His mercy, God grants the forgiveness of sin.
  • Jesus “said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’”
  • The phrase “made you well” is a translation of the word [Σέσωκέν] perfect active indicative from [σῴζω] – which means that from the point his faith was focused upon Christ in trust, gratitude, humility, praise and worship, he was forever transformed and delivered from sin.
  • Originally, the man simply desired for healing, but when he received it, he wanted Christ – and Jesus blessed Him with reconciling him to God.

Application:

  1. What does Jesus “shock” at only the Samaritan returning to give thanks tell us? 
  2. How does access to the Lord through faith compensate for your inadequacy? 

So What?

- Often, our circumstances are designed to demonstrate to us the utter sinfulness of sin and God’s kindness in them is designed to lead us to repent.

- It is important that when God demonstrates grace toward us that we are more thankful for Him than for what He gives to us.

- It is shameful to receive good things from the hand of God and fail to worship Him with grateful hearts.

- The nine lepers represent unbelief and superficiality while the Samaritan represents the undeserving sinner who repents and finds God’s mercy consummated in salvation – where do you fall?

 

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