The Power of Thanks

Luke 17:11-19


It is possible to settle for help in your situation when what you really need is salvation for your soul.


“You are so foolish.”

Many years ago I was working as a Youth Minister part-time and at a radio station full-time just trying to make ends meet. Catherine and I had three young children, far from our family, and we were barely making it. Then it happened. I opened the mailbox to find a letter from the IRS stating that I owed $2800. We didn’t have it! I was distraught. Later that week, I met with my Senior Pastor. He asked how I was doing. I gave a fluff answer. He asked again. I gave an even worse answer. He asked a third time, “How are you doing in your finances?” I was stunned. “Well, I just got an unexpected letter from the IRS. But we will make it. We always do.”

“How much do you owe?” he asked. I said, “$1400.” It was a lie. That was only half my need. Pride took over and I didn’t want to share the depth of my need. Pastor Frank reached into his desk drawer, pulled out his personal checkbook and wrote a check for $1400. I was elated, and couldn’t wait to get home and tell Catherine.

“Babe! Look! $1400!” I exclaimed. She asked how this came about, and I told her the story just as it happened. She said, “You are so foolish. You not only lied, you robbed him of the opportunity of giving you a greater blessing. It doesn’t mean he would, but you never even gave him a chance to meet our need.” She was right. I was a fool. 

While searching for a solution to the situation I settle for partial salvation. Today I want to introduce you to 10 men with a profound need. Nine received a partial solution; one received a total salvation. Nine went away happy; one went away holy. Nine received a gift; one revered God. Nine were thankless though their skin was healed; One was thankful that his soul was made whole. Nine men were foolish; one man was forgiven.

It is possible for you to settle for help in your situation when what you really need is salvation for your soul.

Luke 17:11-19


Destination or Destiny?

A literal translation of Luke 11:17 is, “And it came to pass, as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem…” This little phrase “going up” is very interesting. It is the Greek word “poreuomai…” It can mean “I go, I journey, I transport, or I die.” The word in Greek stresses the personal meaning of arriving at a location. It is more than just “getting there.” It stresses why you are going there. So remember what I said a second ago…this word can mean “to die.”

Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem for the last time suffer on Calvary’s Cross for the sins of the world. Jerusalem was not just His destination; it was His destiny. Jesus never took His eyes off the cross. He was never distracted. The cross was not His destination, it was His destiny.

Let me ask you: “Is your life focused on a destination, or is it focused on your destiny?” The answer to this question will determine whether you live a thankless life or a thankful life. The answer to this question will determine whether your life is filled with work or whether it is filled with worship.

As Jesus was “going up to Jerusalem, His eyes focused resolutely on the cross, He entered a village…” Why did Jesus enter a village when He was marching to Calvary? Because Jesus always moved in the direction of pain. People were not a distraction, the pain was not a distraction; ministering to people in pain was His purpose. People in pain were not a diversion that kept Him from His destination. Ministering to people in pain was His destiny.

Are you walking like Jesus or are you just walking? Are you headed for a destination or are you embracing your destiny?

On His march to Mount Calvary, there was a call for help, a command of hope, a confession of hurt, and a complete healing. Let’s look at each of these.

  1. A call for help
    • “And as he entered a village, Jesus was met by 10 lepers who stood at a distance…” Leprosy in the Bible represents a multitude of skin diseases. One of these diseases is what we know today as leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease.
    • I will spare you the gross details, but essentially, Hansen’s disease progresses as bacteria kills the nerves in the skin until there is a complete loss of feeling. Infections set in. The skin rots, but the individual doesn’t even feel the pain. The flesh rots, and eventually, if unchecked, digits and limbs begin to fall off. Eventually, the disease works from the outside to the inside and destroys organs resulting in death. 
    • The Book of Leviticus develops an in-depth prescription for dealing with the disease. The patient is cut off from worship, cut off from their family, cut off from the community. The patient is literally banished to live outside the village.
    • It is a picture of helplessness and hopelessness. The patient was not even allowed to stand near a healthy person. And so these 10 lepers, cut off from society stand a great way off from the Savior. And they cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
    • Somehow, these men had heard of the miracle-worker. They had heard the stories of Him healing the sick, restoring blind eyes, and causing the lame to walk. “Master” a term of respect, “Master, help us.”
    • They lifted up their voices. Literally, they cried out in a loud voice, “Help us.” Notice please, they called out to a miracle-worker and not a Messiah. They called out to a Master, but not the Messiah. They thought that their skin was their problem, but they did not realize their soul was their problem.
    • But Jesus, ever patient, always on point with His destiny, chose to stop. He could have said, “Stay away! If you only knew what I was doing. If you only understood the importance of my mission. I am headed to Jerusalem to save the lost, I don’t have time for the sick.” But He didn’t.
  2. The command of hope
    • Instead, Jesus gives a command of hope. Verse, 14, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” For the first time in a long time, the 10 lepers had hope. If the priest examined them and pronounced them “clean,” then their healing would be complete and allow them to go home.
    • After presenting themselves at the temple from which they had been cut off since the sickness had set in, they would be pronounced “clean” by a priest and free to return to their homes, hug their wives, play with their children, return to their vocations. Hope burst forth into their bodies. “We can go home.” 
    • They began to run for the city, “and as they went they were cleansed.” The ceremonially unclean lepers were not counted as clean. Rotted limbs were restored. Putrid flesh was again pink and healthy. Clean!
    • But as they begin to run to the city, one of the ten realizes his condition. He was clean on the outside, but still filthy on the inside. He recognized that he had received help for his situation, but what he needed was healing for his soul. His skin was renewed, but his spirit was not renewed.
  3. The cry to heaven
    • Verse 15 says, “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.”
    • The healing of this one leper results in a shift in his perception. No longer is he focused on his situation; he is focused on his sin. No longer is he focused on a great miracle-worker; he is glorifying God. No longer is he worried about his skin; He is worshipping his Savior. For in this moment, this one leper realized that Jesus was not just a Master, He is the Messiah. No longer was his hope in earthly help; it was in a Heavenly Home.
      1. He had prayed for healing; now he praised God for healing
      2. He had fallen on hard times; now he fell at the feet of Jesus
      3. He had worried about his condition; now he worshipped his Creator
    • Where once he cried out in a loud for healing, he now shouts his thanksgiving to heaven. He glorified God. He magnified God. He exalted God. And fell in worship at the feet of Jesus for at that moment he recognized that Jesus is God. He glorified God and He thanked Jesus his God. 
  4. The complete healing
    • Verse 17, “Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”Wha
    • Jesus said, “Get up. Go your way. Your (pistis), saving faith has made you well.” That Greek word for “well” comes from the Greek verb “sozo.”  d
      1. “Sozo” in the Bible is the root word for “soter.” which means “Savior.”
      2. “Sozo” in the Bible is the root word of “soteria” which means “salvation.”
      3. “Sozo” in the Bible is the root word of “sotetrian” which means “saved and brought into divine safety.”
    • Jesus said, “Get up. Go your way. Your faith has brought you salvation.”
    • Ten men were saved from their situation; one man was saved from his sin.
    • Ten men had their skin cleansed; one man had his soul cleansed.
    • Don’t settle for a temporary solution to a permanent situation. Don’t settle for healing in your situation without receiving healing for your spirit. Don’t settle for a skin-deep solution to a soul-deep problem. 
    • Ten men were healed; one man was made whole.


  1. Don’t confuse your destination (earthly work) with your destiny (eternal worship).
  2. Don’t settle for help with your situation when what you need is healing for your soul.  
  3. Don’t settle for a temporary solution to a permanent problem.
  4. Don’t run away with your provision without thanking the Provider.


What a wonderful illustration this is of the mission of Jesus, who came to “seek and to save the lost.” His mission was not to bring the miracle of healing, although He certainly did that. His mission was to bring about the miracle of holiness that comes by faith resulting in the forgiveness of sins.

What Jesus did outwardly in healing was just a picture of what He sought to do inwardly. 

In Matthew 23, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees, a group of people who practiced religion but had no relationship with God. Jesus said to them:

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside may be clean.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

What good is it if you are clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside? What good is it if you appear righteous on the outside, but inwardly are rotten?

Right after these woes, Jesus said something wonderful. “How often I would have gathered you, dear children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”

Jesus wants to make you clean on the inside. He wants to put to death your rottenness and grant you His righteousness. Whether you are a religious person, like the Pharisees, whether you are cut-off like the lepers, or whether you are a foreigner, like the Samaritan, Jesus wants to welcome you under His wings to save you from your sin.

“How often I would have gathered you, dear children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you would not!” How devastating! The deficiency is not found in the willingness of the hen to gather, but in the chicks to be gathered. The deficiency is not in the willingness of Jesus to forgive you today, it is in your willingness to be forgiven! Come home. Fall at the feet of Jesus. Worship Him today. Receive his forgiveness by faith. Your destination won’t matter nearly as much, only your eternal destiny. Your situation will not matter that much, only your salvation will.

Then, and only then, will you truly understand the power of thanksgiving, for you will be clean on the outside, and the inside.


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