I sit at the prayer bench before my bedroom window. Outside, our boys roll millions of flakes into a snow fort. I read the passage, one I remember from the musty basement of the Knox Presbyterian Church Sunday school. I think I know this one. Jesus restores ten lepers to wholeness. And only one returns to offer any thanks. I remember the moral too, Mrs. Morrison and her glossy red lipstick: “How often do you remember to say thanks?” Yes, I think I know this one.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him — and he was a Samaritan. – Luke 17:15-16
Yes, thankfulness, I know. Next verse.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” – Luke 17:17-19
Wait. I trace back. Hadn’t Jesus already completely healed him? Exactly like the other nine who were cured who hadn’t bothered to return and thank Him. So what does Jesus mean, “Your faith has made you well”? Had I underinterpreted this passage, missed some hidden mystery? I slow down and dig. I read Jesus’ words in Young’s Literal Translation,
And [ Jesus] said to him, ‘Having risen, be going on, thy faith has saved thee.’
Saved thee? I dig deeper. It’s sozo in the Greek. Many translations render sozo as being made “well” or “whole,” but its literal meaning, I read it — “to save.” Sozo means salvation. It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. Jesus came that we might live life to the full; He came to give us sozo. And when did the leper receive sozo — the saving to the full, whole life? When he returned and gave thanks. I lay down my pen.
Our very saving is associated with our gratitude.
Mrs. Morrison hadn’t mentioned this. But… of course.
If our fall was the non-eucharisteo, the ingratitude, then salvation must be intimately related to eucharisteo, the giving of thanks.
I look back to the text. That is what it says: “Thy faith has saved thee.” And the leper’s faith was a faith that said thank you. Is that it? Jesus counts thanksgiving as integral in a faith that saves.
We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks.
Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.
Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.
“If the church is in Christ, its initial act is always an act of thanksgiving, of returning the world to God,” writes Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann. If I am truly in Christ, mustn’t my initial act, too, always be an act of thanksgiving, returning to Jesus with thanks on the lips?
I would read it much later in the pages of the Psalms, at the close of a Communion service as the bread and the wine were returned to the table, the Farmer handing his Bible over to me, his finger holding the verse for me to see because he had just read it there, what I had been saying, living, believing, and the chin would quiver before I’d brim at the way God shows His salvation:
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. – Psalm 50:23
Thanksgiving — giving thanks in everything — prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.
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Would you be the one leper who would return giving thanks to Jesus? What about in your own life? If the saving (sozo) of us comes from our giving thanks to God for His goodness, His provision, His mercy, and even the grace in suffering and hardship, what do you need to thank Him for today? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about giving thanks! ~ Devotionals Daily