The Forgotten Holiday
11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" 19 And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well." NKJV
While on a short-term missions trip, Pastor Jack Hinton was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.
"It was the most hideous face I had ever seen," Hinton said. "The woman's nose and ears were entirely gone. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, 'Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?' "
Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, "I guess you'll never be able to sing that song again."
"Yes I will," he replied, "but I'll never sing it the same way."
-- The Pastor's Update (5/96). Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
I feel compelled to comment on one of the hymns we sang this day. Now Thank We All Our God.
In 1636 during the Thirty Years War--one of the worst wars in the history of mankind in terms of the sheer number of deaths, epidemics, the economic results--there was a godly pastor whose name was Martin Rinkert. In a single year, this pastor buried 5,000 people in his parish--about fifteen a day. He lived with the worst that life could do.
But you find that in the middle of that time, he wrote a table grace for his children, our thanksgiving hymn:
"Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done,
In whom his world rejoices."
- The reason for thankfulness
- During Jesus' day leprosy was the AIDS of today.
- There was no know cure
- And it wasn't until 1873 that the cause was discovered.
- Today it is curable for about $200.00 but still many people in third world countries still die of what is called today Hansen's disease.
- Where are the nine who forgot to give thanks.
- One might not have thought he really didn't need it.
- In his mind he was not really ill to start out with.
- The physician (priest) had no doubt mis-diagnosed his case
- He wasn't as bad as those other lepers.
- I refer to him as "the never really needed God" leper.
- Although he has tried other methods and healers yet not had brought healing.
- But he was always able to make the best of it and with a little make up and the right clothes worn in the right manner he was able to cover up the dreaded disease.
- What he did not realize was that he was not any better with all he did before he met Jesus.
- He was just not sure that Jesus was the only way.
- One did not realize the significance of the healing.
- He failed to realize just what Jesus had rescued him from.
- He failed to see how this disease would ruin his life.
- He failed to see how that without Jesus he was without hope and forever condemned to the community of the unclean.
- I call him the "so what" leper.
- There were an number of things in his life that were significant.
- It was just that Jesus and God had never figured into any of those things that brought him excitement.
- To him this Jesus stuff was kind of boring, if you know what I mean.
- One thought he deserved it.
- He had been angry at God all along for allowing him to be a leper.
- He felt that God was unfair, and unloving for allowing leprosy in the world anyway.
- I refer to him as "I deserve to have it my way" leper.
- If he had any thankfulness it was soon eroded away by the resentment of the past.
- He would never be able to enjoy the healing that Jesus brought simply because his heart was filled with all the darker elements of his being.
- One thought it would be to emotional to give thanks.
- He felt that those things were just for women and children.
- He had never heard his father thank anyone for any thing.
- I refer to him as "the much too macho" leper.
- Now there is nothing wrong with men being men.
- I think that in our day we are trying to hard to raise our boys to be like their sisters.
- But Jesus was the most macho man I have ever seen.
- He was man enough to be betrayed yet to call his betrayer friend.
- He was man enough to be whipped and spit upon and yet never to revile his revilers.
- He was man enough to be crucified and yet pray for his persecutors.
- Unbridled anger is not macho, control is macho.
- One was now too busy to give thanks.
- He had to get back to his business.
- He had crops to plant, houses to build, a family to care for.
- He had to get to all the things the leprosy had kept him from.
- I refer to him as the "busy beaver" leper.
- Now there is nothing wrong with being busy.
- As a matter of fact Jesus and the Bible commends earnest activity.
- The problem was that his busyness was keeping him from what God intended for him to be his main business.
- The old catechisms tell us that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
- One now had too many relationships to restore.
- All th could think about was his mother and father.
- He wanted to get back to his wife and his children.
- He just had to go and tell his old friends his wonderful news.
- I call him the "family first, Jesus later" leper.
- It wasn't that those relationships were not important.
- It was that Jesus was the one who had made those other relationships possible.
- He was the one who had made the family and without Him the family would never be what it could be.
- One gave someone or something else the credit.
- He had been recently praying to the moon god you know.
- And he had been taking the spiritual advice of Oprah and the spiritual guides.
- He thought that it might be that new snake oil he had bought from that peddler.
- He thought it might have been the spring water he had been drinking of late.
- I refer to him as the "It couldn't be God" leper.
- In our political correct way people today will give thanks. It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular. Christians in public institutions often see this odd thing happening on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone in the institution seems to be thankful "in general." It's very strange. It's a little like being married in general.
- When people do not want to glorify God, they can always come up with someone else that they want give the credit to.
- But only a fool can think that we are here by chance and that our blessings are not at the hand of Divine Benefactor.
- One was just to excited in the moment of healing and ran off forgetting the healer.
- You know the type.
- He was just so excited about his new condition, his new car, his new toy that he didn't think to give thanks.
- Kind of like a dog who has been given a feast only to gobble it down so fast as to make us gasp with the sudden disappearance.
- I call him the "overly excitable" leper.
- The one had to start enjoying life with all the gusto he could.
- He was going to really life it up now.
- He intended to make up for all the times he had suffered.
- He was going to make sure that enjoyed life and all that it could offer.
- I call him the "get all the gusto" leper.
- Now it is not that Jesus was asking him to live in a monestary and to give up football in the afternoon.
- It was just that Jesus expects us to be grateful for all these many blessings that he has given us to enjoy.
I do not know what type of leper you are, I only know that percentage. About one in ten will give God the glory that is due Him this thanksgiving.
This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com