Darrell Cook, Campus Minister at the Virginia Tech BCM and a part of the Leadership Board of Northstar began the ThankFuel Series. His message was based on the story of Jesus and the ten lepers, found in Luke 17:11-19. Through this message we were reminded that along with asking, thankfulness is one of the book ends of dependency on God.
In this story there were ten lepers, all of whom cried out to Jesus to have mercy on them because they were in desperate need of healing. Jesus healed all of the lepers that day but only one leper, a Samaritan, revealed his faithful dependence on Jesus by returning to say thank you.
Darrell unpacked the story of Jesus and the ten lepers by breaking the story into three parts. He explained that in the first portion of the story found in verses 11-15, the events made a lot of sense and could be expected.
- Jesus met the lepers in between Samaria and Galilee because lepers were “in-between” people themselves. Their disease prevented them from being “in” people. They were isolated.
- The ten lepers stood at a distance. Because of their disease they had to keep to themselves.
- The lepers had heard about Jesus since he had been healing many diseases and had already done many miraculous things.
Darrell confessed that verses 14-16 were more difficult for him to understand and the events weren’t as expected.
- The lepers were told to go show themselves to the priest before they had actually been healed. By following this unexpected command the lepers demonstrated their faith in the healing power of Jesus. This speaks to the truth that the walk of faith constantly has us stepping forward with incomplete information and unfinished business.
- Only one leper returned to say thank you to Jesus when he realized he had been healed. The other lepers followed Jesus’ commands in a more exact way. The behavior of the one leper, and this specific mention of the account within scripture, are worth reflecting on and deriving meaning from.
- The leper who came back was a Samaritan even though Samaritans were looked down upon by Jews in Jesus’ day. This fact was crucial to incorporate in scripture because it shows that Jesus came for all people, even those that society had marginalized. It reminds us that we serve a Savior that was always fighting prejudices and that lifted people up as heroes that nobody else could see.
Darrell asked us to consider the implications of the one leper that returned to Jesus to express gratitude. He raised the question, did the thankfulness of the leper cause him to receive more than the other nine lepers? Darrell’s answer was yes, “the chance to express gratitude for being involved in the work of God was the reward of this (thankful) man.” He knew for the rest of his life that his faith in God meant he could be a part of the great work of God.
Another key truth of this message is that thankfulness is a response to our dependency on God and his work in our lives. When God does something “wow” it is for his glory and purposes not our happiness. We need to live our lives in a thankful response to Him.
Darrel closed out his message by asking us to meditate on fourteen different passages in Psalms about thankfulness in response to God.