Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Bible Book: Luke  17 : 11-19
Subject: Thanksgiving

Dr. John Henry Jowett (1864-1923) writes, “Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”[1]

Luke 17:11-19 reads, “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 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. And 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. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’”

Notice several things from this text.

I. First, note a loathsome disease.

Luke 17:11-13 reads, “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

In Bible times leprosy was a loathsome and lonely disease. Leviticus 13:45-46 reads, “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.” Dr. Matthew George Easton (1823-1894) explains, “This disease was regarded as an awful punishment from the Lord (2 Kings 5:7; 2 Chronicles 26:20). (see MIRIAM; GEHAZI; UZZIAH.)”[2]

These are the scripture references for cases of leprosy recorded in the Old Testament: Miriam (Numbers 12:10); Naaman (2 Kings 5:1); Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27); 4 unidentified lepers (2 Kings 7:3); and Uzziah (2 Kings 15:5; 2 Chronicles 26:23).

According to the World Health Organization, “Leprosy has afflicted humanity since time immemorial. It once affected every continent and it has left behind a terrifying image in history and human memory - of mutilation, rejection and exclusion from society.”[3] Further they reveal, “. . . leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease, is a chronic bacterial disease affecting the skin, peripheral nerves, eyes, and upper respiratory tract. While it is not considered highly infectious, it can be transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth. Leprosy is curable, but left untreated it can cause permanent damage to the patient’s skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes. At the end of 2012, 189,018 global leprosy cases were identified; however, the following year 232,857 new cases were diagnosed.”[4] Jeremy Pelzer reported this past month, “For the first time in Ohio history, a prison inmate has been diagnosed with leprosy, state corrections officials said [in October 2014].”[5]

II. Second, note a life-changing directive.

Luke 17:14 reads, “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.”

Rev. Rayner Winterbotham (1798-1879) writes, “I would have you notice, in the second place, the apparent tameness of their cure. Our Lord neither lays His finger on them, nor holds any conference, but, merely tells them to go and show themselves to the priests, according to the letter of that now antiquated and perishing law of Moses. Never was so great a cure worked in so tame a fashion since the time of Naaman the Syrian; well for them that they had a humbler spirit and a more confiding faith than he, or they, too, would, have gone away in a rage and been never the better. Now, I think we may see in this a striking parable of how our Lord evermore deals with penitent sinners. He does not, as a rule, make any wonderful revelation of Himself to the soul which He heals; there is no dramatic ‘scene’ which can be reported to others. There is, indeed, often something very commonplace, and therefore disappointing, about His dealings with penitents. He remits them to their religious duties--to those things which men account as outward and formal, and therefore feeble, which have indeed no power at all in themselves to heal the leprosy of sin, such as the means of grace, the ministry of reconciliation. In these things there is no excitement; they do not carry away the soul with a rush of enthusiasm, or fill it with a trembling awe.”[6]

Rev. Timothy Gibson, M. A., author of Lectures on the History of Joseph, (London: Christopher Vandenbergh, 1848), writes, “Observe the direction of the Divine Physician. The Saviour, by sending the lepers to the priest, not only honoured the law which had prescribed this conduct, but secured to Himself the testimony of the appointed judge and witness of the cure; for, as this disease was considered to be both inflicted and cured by the hand of God Himself, and as He had cured it, He thus left a witness in the conscience of the priest, that He was what He professed to be.”[7]

III. Third, note a Levitical diagnosis.

The term “Levitical” means “of or related to the Levites or Leviticus” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.[8] In Leviticus 13:1-44, a passage devoted to the laws regarding leprosy, note how many times you find the phrase “the priest shall examine him.” Luke 17:14 reads, “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” Luke 17:15-16 reads, “And 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. And he was a Samaritan.” As the Samaritan woman at the well reminded Jesus in John 4:9b, “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” But Jesus did and Jesus does and so should we!

IV. Fourth, note a lamentable division.

Luke 17:17-18 reads, “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” These men were united in their leprosy but after they were healed there was a division.

Dr. J. M. (James Manning) Sherwood, (1814-1890) former editor of the Homiletic Review, states, “God looks after ‘the nine’.” Dr. Sherwood explains, “Christ has a perfect knowledge of all upon whom He confers special grace and blessing, and a perfect recollection of the kind and measure of His bestowments. While the solitary grateful soul will be amply rewarded by Jesus, the multitude of ingrates will be inquired after and dealt with by Him.”[9]

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) shares the following about “Praise neglected”:

1. Here note--there are more who receive benefits than ever give praise for them. Nine persons healed, one person glorifying God; nine persons healed of leprosy, mark you, and only one person kneeling down at Jesus’ feet, and thanking Him for it!

2. But there is something more remarkable than this--the number of those who pray is greater than the number of those who praise. For these ten men that were lepers all prayed. But when they came to the Te Deum, magnifying and praising God, only one of them took up the note. One would have thought that all who prayed would praise, but it is not so. Cases have been where a whole ship’s crew in time of storm has prayed, and yet none of that crew have sung the praise of God when the storm has become a calm.

3. Most of us pray more than we praise. Yet prayer is not so heavenly an exercise as praise. Prayer is for time; but praise is for eternity.

4. There are more that believe than there are that praise. It is real faith, I trust--it is not for me to judge it, but it is faulty in result. So also among ourselves, there are men who get benefits from Christ, who even hope that they are saved, but they do not praise Him. Their lives are spent in examining their own skins to see whether their leprosy is gone. Their religious life reveals itself in a constant searching of themselves to see if they are really healed. This is a poor way of spending one’s energies.[10]

Rev. Urijah Rees Thomas (1839-1901) shares the following creative look at “The causes of ingratitude”:

“The nine, where?” Thus Christ with censure, sadness, surprise inquires. There are more than nine sources of ingratitude. But there are nine, and each of these men may represent some one.

I. One is CALLOUS. He did not feel his misery as much as some, nor is he much stirred now by his return to health. Sullen, torpid, stony men are thankless. Callousness is a common cause of ingratitude.

II. One is THOUGHTLESS. He is more like shifting sand than hard stone, but he never reflects, never introspects, never recollects. The unreflecting are ungrateful.

III. One is PROUD. He has not had more than his merit in being healed. Why should he be thankful for what his respectability, his station, deserved? Only the humble-hearted are truly grateful.

IV. One is ENVIOUS. Though healed he has not all that some others have. They are younger, or stronger, or have more friends to welcome them. He is envious. Envy turns sour the milk of thankfulness.

V. One is COWARDLY. The Healer is scorned, persecuted, hated. The expression of gratitude may bring some of such hatred on himself. The craven is always a mean ingrate.

VI. One is CALCULATING the result of acknowledging the benefit received. Perhaps some claim may arise of discipleship, or gift.

VII. One is WORLDLY. Already he has purpose of business in Jerusalem, or plan of pleasures there, that fascinates him from returning to give thanks.

VIII. One is GREGARIOUS. He would have expressed gratitude if the other eight would, but he has no independence, no individuality.

IX. One is PROCRASTINATING. By and by. Meanwhile Christ asks, ‘Where are the nine?’”[11]

V. Fifth, note a luminous difference.

Luke 17:19 reads, “And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’” There is a luminous difference between this Samaritan and the other nine cleansed lepers. Dr. Bruce B. Barton and others share the following comment, “Jesus emphasized the necessity of faith (17:19). Just as in the parable of the mustard seed (13:18-19), it is not the size of faith but the presence of genuine faith that is important.”[12]

Dr. Ivor Powell (1910-1998) explains that initially, “We are not told these men had any faith in the Lordship of Christ; they had merely heard He was capable of healing the sick, and as drowning men clutching at a straw, they cried for mercy.”[13]

Dr. I. H. Marshall, Senior Lecturer in New Testament Exegesis at the University of Aberdeen, writes, “His faith has been the means of his cure and his salvation.”[14]

You have likely heard of “the good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37), but here we encounter “the grateful Samaritan” (Luke 17:11-19). Remember the phrase ending verse 16, “And he was a Samaritan.”

Rev. Charles Bradley (1789-1871) comments on “THE THANKFULNESS MANIFESTED BY ONE OF THESE HEALED MEN.

1. Prompt.

2. Warm, hearty, earnest.

3. Humble and reverential.

More so, observe, than even his prayer. When he cried for mercy, he stood; when he gives thanks for mercy, he falls down on his face. The thankfulness of this man was elevated also. It was accompanied with high thoughts of God, and a setting forth, as far as he was able, of God’s glory. He is said in the text to have ‘glorified God.’ And observe how he blends together in his thankfulness God and Christ. He glorifies the one, and at the same time he falls down before the other, giving Him thanks. Did he then look on our Lord in His real character, as God? Perhaps he did. The wonderful cure he had received in his body, might have been accompanied with as wonderful an outpouring of grace and light into his mind. God and Christ, God’s glory and Christ’s mercy, were so blended together in his mind, that he could not separate them. Neither, brethren, can you separate them, if you know anything aright of Christ and His mercy.”[15]

“Gratitude heightens the power of enjoyment,” Rev. Edwin Paxton Hood (1920-1885) explains, “Man’s gratitude is, I have often thought and said, a sixth sense; for it always heightens the power of enjoyment. Suppose a man to walk through the world with every sense excited to its utmost nerve: let there be a world of dainties spread before him and around him, and the aromas of all precious fragrances steeping his senses in delicious and exquisite enjoyment; let the eye be gladdened and brighten over: the knowledge, and the hand tighten over the grasp of present and actual possession, yet let him be a man in whose nature there wakes no keen sensation of grateful remembrance, and I say that yet the most delightful sensation is denied him. Grateful-thankfulness is allied to—nay, forms an ingredient in--the very chief of our deepest enjoyments, and purest springs of blessedness. Gratitude gives all the sweet spice to the cup of contentment, and the cup of discontent derives all its acid from an ungrateful heart.”[16]

Dr. Ivor Powell laments, “Alas, for so many moderns [and I might add, post-moderns], gratitude has become a forgotten art.”[17]


Dr. John Kelman (1864-1929) shares the following story about Dr. Alexander Whyte (1836-1921): “One poor old woman whom he visited had complained during the whole of twenty minutes about everybody and everything, and he had sat silent. Then he lifted his gloves and hat, and shook hands with her to bid her good-bye, saying only, ‘And, mind you, forget not all His benefits.’”[18]

Rev. Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795) author of A Scriptural Exposition of the Baptist Catechism, by Way of Question and Answer, laments, “. . . those who remember God in their distresses often forget Him in their deliverances.”[19]

Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar (1926-2012) shares the following: “John Miller really gives us a tremendous thought when he says, ‘How happy a person is depends upon the depth of his gratitude. You will notice at once that the unhappy person has little gratitude toward life, other people, and God.’”[20]

“We classify sin. ‘We may find by and by that in God’s sight ingratitude is the blackest of all.’” Dr. George R. Leavitt continues, “There is an application of this truth to Christians which we should not miss. Gratitude gives continued access to higher and higher blessings. The ungrateful Christian loses spiritual blessings. If we value the gift above the Giver, all that we should receive in returning to Him we lose.”[21]

“Charles Spurgeon was sharing the gospel with a very talkative woman who was beginning to understand the good news when she burst out: ‘Oh Mr. Spurgeon, if Christ saves me he will never hear the end of it!’” Dr. R. Kent Hughes adds, “She spoke beyond her understanding, because such praise will be the eternal occupation of the redeemed.”[22] Revelation 4:9-11 reads, “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.’”

Revelations 5:11-12 reads, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’”

Dr. R. Kent Hughes explains, “The hearts of those who do not know Christ are ungrateful. Speaking of man’s spiritual history, Paul reported, ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him’ (Romans 1:21). ‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful’ (2 Timothy 3:1-2).”[23]

John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 reads, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

[1]Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), #11154, 609.


[2]Matthew George Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1894), 419.


[3]“Leprosy: the disease,” Accessed: 11/17/14, .


[4]Accessed: 11/17/14, .


[5]Jeremy Pelzer, “Ohio inmate has leprosy, officials say; case is first ever found in state prison system,” Accessed: 11/17/14, .


[6]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, St. Luke, Vol. III, (New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell, 1905), 298.


[7]Illustrator, Exell, 301.


[8]Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Levitical”, Accessed: 11/06/14, .


[9]Illustrator, Exell, 305.



[11] Illustrator, Exell, 303-304.

[12]Life Application Bible Commentary – Luke, ed. Bruce B. Barton, et al., (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998), 402.

[13]Ivor Powell, Luke’s Thrilling Gospel, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984), 364.


[14]I. H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 652.


[15]Illustrator, Exell, 300-301.


[16] Illustrator, Exell, 302-303.


[17]Powell, Luke’s, 366.


[18]George Freeland Barbour, The Life of Alexander Whyte, D. D., (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1923), 365.


[19] Illustrator, Exell, 298.


[20]Zig Ziglar, Zig Ziglar’s Life Lifters, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 33.


[21] Illustrator, Exell, 297.


[22]R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Volume Two: That You May Know the Truth, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 173-174.


[23]Hughes, Luke, 174.


By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & / / (251) 626-6210

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