Thanking God For His Pardon

Bible Book: Luke  17 : 11-19
Subject: Thanksgiving; Gratitude; Thanksgiving Day; Pardon; Forgiving
Series: Thanking God
[Editor's Note: This is sermon one of four in a four-part series by Dr. Owen. A new sermon in the series will be uploaded each week beginning October 27 through November 17, 2014.]

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, it’s on my heart this morning to begin a series on “Thanking God.”

Certainly, God is worthy of thanks. And there is always something that we can be thankful for. In fact, Paul said…

(Ephesians 5:20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

(1 Thessalonians 5:18) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

George Mikes told this story about finding something to be thankful for…

In Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?” The rabbi answers, “Take your goat into the room with you.” The man is incredulous, but the rabbi insists. “Do as I say, and come back in a week.” A week later, the man comes back looking more distraught than before. “We cannot stand it,” he tells the rabbi. “The goat is filthy.” The rabbi then tells him, “Go home and let the goat out. And come back in a week.” A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat – only the nine of us.”

(George Mikes, How to be Decadent –

If you’re having trouble finding something to be thankful for, listen to this little story…

It is strange to hear the things for which some people are thankful. In a Sunday School class one Sunday the teacher asked the children to share some of the things for which they were thankful. One little boy shot his hand into the air. When the teacher called upon him, she asked, “Well, Billy, for what are you thankful?” The little fellow replied, “I am thankful that I am not a turkey.”

Of course, a lack of gratitude can be a real problem in the human heart. For example, there was a story in the December 12, 2001 issue of USA Today that said…

A South African man surprised nine men robbing his home. Eight of the robbers ran away, but the homeowner managed to shove one into his backyard pool. After realizing the robber couldn’t swim, the homeowner jumped in to save him. The Cape Times reports that once out of the pool, the wet thief called to his friends to come back. Then he pulled a knife and threatened the man who had just rescued him. The homeowner said, “We were still standing near the pool, and when I saw the knife I just threw him back in. But he was gasping for air and was drowning. So I rescued him again. I thought he had (some nerve) trying to stab me after I had just saved his life.”

* Citation: USA Today (12/12/01); submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

(From the Preaching Connection e-newsletter for Monday, October 16, 2006)

It doesn’t sound like the robber was very grateful to the man for saving his life.

Warren Wiersbe shared this sad story about a lack of gratitude…

Years ago, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois had a lifesaving squad that assisted passengers on the Lake Michigan boats. On September 8, 1860, a passenger boat, the Lady Elgin, floundered near Evanston, and a ministerial student, Edward Spencer, personally rescued seventeen persons. The exertion of that day permanently damaged his health and he was unable to train for the ministry. When he died some years later, it was noted that not one of the seventeen persons he had saved ever came to thank him.

(From The Bible Exposition Commentary)

Today, we’re looking at a man who, along with nine others, was cleansed and pardoned by Jesus from a life sentence of leprosy. The one man out of the ten, who happened to be a Samaritan, was the only one who returned to express his thanks to the Lord.

(Luke 17:17-18) And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? {18} There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

One writer said…

Here is a man whose acquaintance we shall do well to make. True, he is a Samaritan, a product of a mixed race. True, he is a man who has been a victim of a horrible and dreadful disease. But in spite of all this, he is a man worth knowing. I am sorry to tell you that I cannot call his name. He forgot to leave us his autograph. He belongs to that vast company of anonymous believers who live their lives to God’s glory and do their worthful deeds without ever taking time to tell us who they are. But though we do not know his name, we still enough about him to make us admire him.

When we first meet him there is nothing to distinguish him from his companions. He is a part of a group of ten wretched men that seem to be serving as a kind of reception committee to welcome Jesus to a certain village. But in reality these are not a reception committee at all, nor are they brothers in a high and holy cause. The bond that binds these together is a common tragedy. They all stagger under the weight of a common woe. At this point there is nothing to distinguish the one from the nine. They present one monotonous and mountainous ugliness.

As we study the scripture today, let us observe that…

I. In This Passage, We See A Group Of Lepers

(Luke 17:11-13)

A. Notice The Disease Of These Men

(Luke 17:12) And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

1. Let’s Think About The Symptoms Of This Disease

(Leviticus 13:45) And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.

According to the Encarta Encyclopedia...

Leprosy has long been one of the most feared diseases worldwide. … Because of the lack of sensation in affected areas of the skin, people with leprosy often do not notice burns and injuries to their fingers and toes and fail to treat them. These injuries can then become infected with other types of bacteria that cause tissue damage. … Damage to nerves in the hands and feet may also cause the fingers and toes to become stiff and curl inward, and some patients become unable to walk.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary says…

This disease “begins with specks on the eyelids and on the palms, gradually spreading over the body, bleaching the hair white wherever they appear, crusting the affected parts with white scales, and causing terrible sores and swellings. From the skin the disease eats inward to the bones, rotting the whole body piecemeal.” “In Christ’s day no leper could live in a walled town, though he might in an open village. But wherever he was he was required to have his outer garment rent as a sign of deep grief, to go bareheaded, and to cover his beard with his mantle, as if in lamentation at his own virtual death.

In his Bible Dictionary, Andrew Robert Fausset said that…

Spiritually, leprosy typified sin, and its treatment represented the separation which sin makes between sinners and saints. The law is the inspired interpreter of nature’s truths. The leper was a “walking tomb,” “a parable of death,” and of sin “the wages of which is death.” Hence he had to wear the badges of mourning, a covering upon his upper lip, and was regarded “as one dead” (Leviticus 13:45; Numbers 12:12). He was to cry, Unclean, unclean, to warn all not to defile themselves by approaching him. So the ten stood afar off, lifting up their voices (Luke 17:13). The malady was often due to inherited taint, as is sin (Exodus 20:5). The gradual decay of the body, first of the skin, then the bone, then the flesh, life still surviving, vividly represented the sure and deadly process of man’s ruin by sin.

As Jerry Vines said, “Leprosy is a symbol in the flesh of sin in the soul.”

Leprosy causes a desensitizing; it causes a hardness of the members; it may lead to blindness; its transmission is a mystery; those who had it went into mourning as if they were dead. Is it any wonder that leprosy in the word of God is a type of sin?

2. Let’s Think About The Spread Of This Disease

(Luke 17:12) And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

Ten is a perfect number in the scripture, and the fact that all ten of these men were lepers reminds us that the whole world is perfectly afflicted with the disease of sin. One was a Samaritan; the others were probably Jews. But all were lepers.

One writer said…

The ten were at first undistinguishable in their misery. That there were differences of character among them we know; that there were differences of race, of education, and training, we know too, for one at least was a Samaritan, and under no other circumstances, perhaps, would his companions have had any dealings with him; but all their differences were obliterated, their natural antipathies were lost, beneath the common pressure of their frightful misery—their very voices were blended in one urgent cry, “Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us.” “One touch of nature,” says the great poet, “makes the whole world kin”: true, and it is never so true as when that touch of nature is the sense of guilt. This is the great leveler, not only of the highest and lowest, but of the best and worst, effacing all distinctions, even of moral character; for, when one attempts to weigh one’s sin and count it up, it seems impossible to establish degrees in one’s own favour—one feels as if there were a dreadful equality of guilt for all, and one was no better than another.

(R. Winterbotham from The Biblical Illustrator)

I grew up in a Christian home, but it was just as appropriate for me to describe my condition as “Unclean, unclean” as it was for that one whose life and actions were the most vile and wretched in all of society…

(Romans 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

B. Notice The Distance Of These Men

(Luke 17:12) And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

1. The Language Indicates Their Distance From The Lord

There are two words in this verse that magnify their distance from Jesus…

met – Greek 528. apantao, ap-an-tah'-o; from G575 (away from something near) and a der. of G473; to meet away, i.e. encounter:--meet.

The word seems to suggest that they encountered the Lord, but they would only come so far and so close. And then they “stood,” which according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon indicates that they came to a halt. They stopped, and they stood still (coming no further).

A. T. Robertson explained that…

The compound read by Codex Vaticanus (for the phrase “which stood afar off”) means “rose up,” but they stood at a distance.

2. The Location Indicates Their Distance From The Lord

afar off – Greek 4207. porrhothen, por'-rho-then; from G4206 with adv. enclitic of source; from far, or (by impl.) at a distance, i.e. distantly:--afar off. (From afar.)

Albert Barnes said…

[Stood afar off] At a distance, as they were required by law. They were unclean, and it was not lawful for them to come near to those who were in health. As Jesus was traveling, they were also walking in the contrary way, and seeing him, and knowing that they were unclean, they stopped or turned aside, so that they might not expose others to the contagion.

C. Notice The Desire Of These Men

(Luke 17:13) And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

1. We See The Effort Of Their Desire

In “The Fourfold Gospel,” J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton said that when the lepers “lifted up their voices,” it was, “Such as they had, for the leper’s bronchial tubes are dry, and the voice is harsh and squeaky.”

In other words, it must have been very painful and difficult to raise their voices to call upon Jesus. Similarly, it is rarely an easy thing for a sinner to call upon Jesus for saving mercy.

2. We See The Essence Of Their Desire

Warren Wiersbe said…

The word translated “master” is the same one Peter used (Luke 5:5) and means “chief commander.” They knew that Jesus was totally in command of even disease and death, and they trusted Him to help them.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says that the word “mercy” (NT:1653 – eleeo)…

Signifies, in general, “to feel sympathy with the misery of another,” and especially sympathy manifested in action; “to have pity or mercy on, to show mercy.”

Frank E. Graeff asked…

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

Too deeply for mirth or song,

As the burdens press, and the cares distress

And the way grows weary and long?

And with these miserable lepers, he discovered the answer…

Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.

II. In This Passage, We See The Graciousness Of The Lord

(Luke 17:14)

A. Jesus Had A Consideration For Them

(Luke 17:14) And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

1. In His Consideration, He Saw These Lepers

saw – Greek 1492. eido, i'-do; a prim. verb; used only in certain past tenses, the others being borrowed from the equiv. G3700 and G3708; prop. to see (lit. or fig.); by impl. (in the perf. only) to know:--be aware, behold, X can (+ not tell), consider, (have) known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand, wist, wot.

The leper was often such a repulsive sight as to make most people turn away from them. And to see ten lepers at once would have been especially repulsive. But Jesus looked in their direction! He saw them.

2. In His Consideration, He Spoke To These Lepers

said – Greek 2036. epo, ep'-o; a prim. verb (used only in the def. past tense, the others being borrowed from G2046, G4483 and G5346); to speak or say (by word or writing):--answer, bid, bring word, call, command, grant, say (on), speak, tell.

Having looked in their direction, it would have been easy to ignore them. But Jesus did not ignore them. In fact, He responded to their cry for help, and gave them an answer and a command. And He is still the same considerate Jesus. When you cry out to Him, He has a word for your heart.

B. Jesus Had A Command For Them

(Luke 17:14) And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

1. This Was The Levitical Command

(Leviticus 13:1-2) And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying, {2} When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:

(Leviticus 14:1-2) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, {2} This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:

2. This Was The Lord’s Command

In his commentary on Luke, Ivor Powell wrote…

Let it be noted clearly that although Christ told these men to report to the priest, they remained lepers. Thus they were faced with a problem. Reason said, “It is useless to do as He suggested.” Faith replied, “Since He commanded us to go, He surely had a reason for issuing the command. Therefore let us go in simple dependence upon His word.” “And it came to pass that as they went, they were cleansed.” It is well to remember that hearing the Gospel never saved anybody. Faith must be followed by commitment; because a man believes, he acts, and as faith is thereby translated into intelligent response, the healing power of God does what needs to be done in the leper’s life.

In his sermon on “The Miracle of Thanksgiving” from Luke 17, Andy Cook, pastor of Shirley Hills Baptist Church in Warner Robins, GA observed that…

In order for the miracle to happen, these men had to start walking in faith before their circumstances had changed one tiny bit.

Some folks think that receiving leads to believing. But Jesus’ method is that believing leads to receiving! In spite of all the factors working against you, trust in Him now!

It was as if He was telling them to go and show the priests that He had done what the law was unable to do!

C. Jesus Had A Cleansing For Them

(Luke 17:14) And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

1. Let’s Think About The Experience Of The Cleansing

came to pass – a form of the Greek word (1096) ginomai, ghin’-om-ahee; a prol. and mid. form of a prim. verb; to cause to be (“gen”-erate), i.e. (reflex.) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (lit. fig., intens., etc.).

The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon indicates that the word means “to come into existence, begin to be, ‎to occur or happen to one.”

2. Let’s Think About The Explanation Of The Cleansing

‎cleansed – Greek 2511. katharizo, kath-ar-id'-zo; from G2513; to cleanse (lit. or fig.):--(make) clean (-se), purge, purify.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that when the word is used in relationship to a leper, it means “to cleanse by curing.”

Andy Cook goes on to say of this word “cleansed”…

This is “kath-a-ri-zo,” the root word for our “catheter,” or “catherization.” It … is a medical word in part, for it means, “remove the impurities.”

Pastor Cook described it this way…

Jesus says to these lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” They look down at their bodies. The hands of one man are still mangled. Another man looks at his leg, which ends with a filthy rag at the knee. Another looks at his skin, and finds it as repulsive as ever. In other words, all of these men were no better off than they had been ten minutes earlier, when they had first spotted the famous teacher. And yet, they headed off, in search of the priests. And on their way, they were healed. On their way, a hand reappeared, and tingled with life. A crutch tripped on a filthy rag, as it fell to the ground. The leg was back … healthy, whole, complete. The skin cleared, and the tiny hairs on a forearm turned from snow white to brown. One looked at the other, another looked at the rest, and the screaming started. The smiles broke into cheering, and a sweet madness. They raced off in the distance, not believing that the nightmare was finally over.

III. In This Passage, We See The Gratitude In One Life

(Luke 17:15-19)

A. Consider The Scenario That Is Mentioned

1. There Was A Vocal Response In This Samaritan

(Luke 17:15) And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

loud – Greek 3173. megas, meg'-as [includ. the prol. forms, fem. megale, plur. megaloi, etc.; comp. also G3176, G3187]; big (lit. or fig., in a very wide application):--(+ fear) exceedingly, great (-est), high, large, loud, mighty, + (be) sore (afraid), strong, X to years.

Pastor Andy Cook said…

One of the men came back to Jesus, and praised God. He was thankful. He was public about it. He was loud … he wasn’t shy at all. Why was he so loud? This guy had been forced to yell for as long as he’d had leprosy. Had it been years? He’d probably yelled so long, he didn’t know how to come to the Lord quietly, or even in a normal voice. When he came back and fell at the feet of Jesus, he was just louder than the normal person … and he was praising God.

He’s using his big voice. And for a long time, he’s been using his big, outside voice to say, “Unclean, unclean,” or “Alms, alms for the poor.” But now, he comes using his loud, healed vocal chords to say, “Glory, glory!”

glorified – Greek 1392. doxazo, dox-ad'-zo; from G1391; to render (or esteem) glorious (in a wide application):--(make) glorify (-ious), full of (have) glory, honour, magnify.

2. There Was A Vivid Response In This Samaritan

(Luke 17:16) And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says…

He was praising God and he threw himself at Jesus’ feet, a posture of worship.

giving Him thanks – Greek 2168. eucharisteo, yoo-khar-is-teh'-o; from G2170; to be grateful, i.e. (act.) to express gratitude (towards); spec. to say grace at a meal:--(give) thank (-ful, -s).

B. Consider The Singularity That Is Mentioned

1. When It Comes To Gratitude, There Is An Interrogation

(Luke 17:17) And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

J. C. Ryle said…

The words that fell from our Lord’s lips upon this occasion are very solemn: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” The lesson before us is humbling, heart-searching, and deeply instructive. The best of us are far too like the nine lepers We are more ready to pray than to praise, and more disposed to ask God for what we have not, than to thank Him for what we have. Murmurings, and complainings, and discontent abound on every side of us.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary further says…

The lack of gratitude by the other nine was typical of the rejection of His ministry by the Jewish nation. He alone had the power to cleanse the nation and make it ceremonially clean. However, the nation did not respond properly to Him. The nation accepted the things that Jesus could do (such as heal them and feed them), but it did not want to accept Him as Messiah. However, those outside the nation (such as this Samaritan leper – a person doubly repulsive to the Jews) were responding.

2. When It Comes To Gratitude, There Is An Isolation

(Luke 17:18) There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

In a newsletter some years ago, Charles L. Brown considered the following question…

Why did only one cleansed leper return to thank Jesus? The following are nine suggested reasons why the nine did not return:

One waited to see if the cure was real.

One waited to see if it would last.

One said he would see Jesus later.

One decided that he had never had leprosy.

One said he would have gotten well anyway.

One gave the glory to the priests.

One said, “O, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything.”

One said, “Any rabbi could have done it.”

One said, “I was already much improved.”


C. Consider The Salvation That Is Mentioned

(Luke 17:19) And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

1. There Is A Trust Associated With Salvation Here

faith – Greek 4102. pistis, pis'-tis; from G3982; persuasion, i.e. credence; mor. conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), espec. reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstr. constancy in such profession; by extens. the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:--assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “He apparently understood that Jesus is God, for he placed faith in Him.”

2. There Is A Term Associated With Salvation Here

In verse 15, the man saw that he had been “healed”…

healed – Greek 2390. iaomai, ee-ah'-om-ahee; mid. of appar. a prim. verb; to cure (lit. or fig.):--heal, make whole.

In verses 14 and 17, we’re told that they were all “cleansed”…

cleansed – Greek 2511. katharizo, kath-ar-id'-zo; from G2513; to cleanse (lit. or fig.):--(make) clean (-se), purge, purify.

But in verse 19, Jesus said that he had been made “whole,” a word that suggests salvation…

whole – Greek 4982. sozo, sode’-zo; from a prim. sos (contr. for obsol. saos, “safe”); to save, i.e. deliver or protect (lit. or fig.):--heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

Go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole - not as the others, merely in body, but in that higher spiritual sense with which His constant language has so familiarized us.

He had helped all of them in body, and they went away satisfied. But this man, he helped in his soul, and he went away saved!


I’ve mentioned several things from Andy Cook’s sermon on “The Miracle of Thanksgiving” from Luke 17. And in that sermon, Pastor Cook shared a very powerful illustration of a grateful leper…

While on a short-term missions trip in 1996, Pastor Jack Hinton from New Bern, North Carolina, was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tabango. There was time for one more song, so he asked if anyone had a request. 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. The disease had destroyed her lips as well. 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, “Jack, 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.

Johnson Oatman, Jr. wrote the words…

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.