Friday, 19 September 2014
See Jesus As The Thankful One
I don’t always stop and say thank you when I should. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to do that, but it’s also a convicting reminder.
So while I stuff the turkey and set the table, I’m also thinking about what I’m going to share at tomorrow’s feast. What am I thankful for this year? As I think back through the past eleven months I become aware of two things. One is that even in a hard year God has given me so much. The other is how often I’ve failed to stop and thank him. I’m well behind schedule in this gracious duty. Thanksgiving feels a little like a scramble to catch up.
I’m Not The One.
There’s an incident in Jesus’ life that adds to my sense of conviction. He was traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem when he ran into ten lepers outside a village (Luke 17:11-19). They kept their distance from him as the Law required, but that didn’t keep them from shouting to him for healing. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He heard their cry and saw their desperation. Right away he spoke this word to them,
Go and show yourselves to the priests.
They were not yet cleansed, but as they started on their way to see the priests, they became healed. Picture the moment. Possibly they felt something. Of course they saw the changes in each other. Then each would probably have looked at himself. However it happened, the realization dawned. I’m clean! The biggest problem in my life is over!
At that moment nine of them kept walking–more likely running–to the priests. The priest would be the doorway to their new life. He would examine them, take them through the ritual steps, and pronounce them clean. Then their life would begin again. Their action makes sense, and in fact was in line with what Jesus told them to do.
But one stopped and turned back. Before he even got to Jesus he began praising God with a loud voice. Once there he fell on his face and thanked him. Jesus asked him
Where are the nine?
Ouch. So often I’m not the one who returns. I’m one of the nine who gets on with my life.
But He Is.
Conviction is hard, but it is a gift. What am I to do with that gift on this Thanksgiving eve? Feel bad? Try to make up for my failing? Make resolutions to be more grateful?
No. First I need to see Jesus as my Savior from ingratitude. I’m not the one who returned to give thanks, but he is. His life was so characterized by praise and thanksgiving to God that Scripture mentions it as a throw away detail in several scenes, a detail that reveals not just his routine, but his heart:
- giving thanks for food, from the loaves and fish to the final Passover feast. (Matthew 15:36, 26:27)
- Bursting out in thanks and praise to the Father when the disciples return from their mission. (Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21)
- Thanking the Father for hearing and answering prayer at the tomb of Lazarus. (John 11:41)
Jesus is the Thankful One. The thankfulness that was proscribed in the Old Testament sacrifices and feasts was the Law he obeyed not just in letter but in spirit. He perfectly worshiped and thanked his heavenly Father for every gift of his earthly life. He also died for my failure to give thanks (Romans 1:31). As I get dressed on Thanksgiving day, I can be certain that I’m clean and clothed in his perfect gratitude.
And He’s Making Me Like Him.
This frees me to go into my celebration with a light heart. He’s got this. He’s not only cleansed my conscience, he’s at work in me right now to make me a more grateful person. The fact that I’m even thinking about it shows me that he’s at work in my life, transforming me to be more like him. My desire to change is proof that he’s at work in my will. My efforts to cultivate gratitude are evidence that he’s at work in my actions.
And my renewed sense of freedom from condemnation is the perfect place to start thanking him right now. May your Thanksgiving celebration be filled with his joy.
Happy Thanksgiving To Each Of You!