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Jesus’ teaching about thanksgiving (A Thanksgiving Sermon) November 15, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Luke, Religion, Sermons, Sovereignty, Thanksgiving.

Luke 10:17-23

INTRODUCTION: If you were God, for what blessings would you want people to be MOST thankful? Would you want them to be thankful for their material possessions? for their families? perhaps for the talents and the opportunities that you have given them? or the country in which they have their heritage? For what would you prefer that people be thankful? Of course, God wants us to be thankful in everything and does not limit our thankfulness but it is interesting that Jesus tried to give some perspective to the disciples’ thanksgiving here in Luke 10.

I. Jesus taught that joy in and thanksgiving for our spiritual inheritance is superior to thanksgiving for our spiritual gifts (verses 17-20).

At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus sent out seventy men who, in addition to the twelve, were willing to meet the qualifications for discipleship outlined in Luke 9:57-62: (1) live for heavenly things; (2) recognize the urgency and priority of the call to discipleship; and (3) maintain their focus only on the things of Christ. These seventy men were sent out to preach (Luke 9:60), i.e. announce or declare the kingdom of God. They were to go before Him (verse 1), proclaiming the gospel of the Christ (verses 9 and 11). In addition, He granted them the spiritual gift of healing (verse 9). When they returned to Jesus, they reported that they had been able to exceed expectations. Not only had they proclaimed the gospel and healed people in the villages that had accepted the gospel, they reported that they had been able to exercise the spiritual gift of exorcism, that is, the casting out of demons (verse 17). This was unexpected and it was no doubt exhilarating. It filled them with joy to be able to perform such a mighty miracle.

a. They are not, however, to rejoice in this spiritual gift that God has given them. Jesus, after acknowledging that this ability and protection to overcome Satan’s forces came directly from Him (verses 18-19), told them that thanksgiving is to be rooted in our heavenly citizenship and not in our spiritual success and/or abilities. In other words, first and foremost of importance is not the performance of confirming works but rather your entrance into the kingdom of heaven through faith in the gospel of Christ.

This is the answer to the world’s preoccupation with doing something rather than being according to Henry Blackaby, “A time will come when the doing will be called for, but we cannot skip the relationship. The relationship with God must come first.””

Chuck Swindoll writes about an old survey, “In 1953, a senior class in Houston, Texas was asked, ‘What do you want to do?’ Several said: ‘Make a million bucks.’ Other answers included, ‘…play professional football’, ‘own my own race car and win the Indy 500’, ‘rob Chase Manhattan Bank and escape to Fiji’, ‘finish medical school and have a practice in Honolulu’, ‘marry a rich movie star and live in Beverly Hills’, ‘sing at the Met’, and the infamous ‘live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.’ The problem however is not how they answered the question but the question they were asked. Instead of what do you want to do, they should have been asked about what they want to be.” That was the emphasis of Jesus in His response to the seventy.

b. We receive heavenly citizenship through faith in the gospel of Christ (verses 8-12). There is a lot of emphasis in the church today on spiritual gifts and not just in the charismatic churches. It is a misplaced emphasis. We need more of an emphasis on faith in the gospel of Christ.

Many people seem to think that spiritual gifts and works make us acceptable to God. Matthew 7:22-23 explains why spiritual gifts and works do not make you a child of God. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

John 1:12 tells us how to become a child of God, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

So Jesus contrasts the joy of spiritual gifts with the joy of the spiritual inheritance. Now most of us have never cast out demons or performed miraculous healings. Our spiritual gifts may be more mundane but the principle applies just the same. Look down in verses 38-42, where the distracted exercise of a mundane spiritual gift is contrasted with choosing to hear Christ’s words.

The story of Mary and Martha at first appears to be just tacked on to this chapter but when one realizes the lessons found earlier in Luke, it certainly makes sense. Jesus came into a village that apparently received Him, specifically in the house of Martha. Jesus practiced here exactly what He had commanded the seventy in verses 5-8. Martha, however, did not choose to rejoice in her salvation as Mary did but rather to fret and fuss over the preparations of the meal for Jesus Christ.

It is not that Martha did not receive Christ or that the seventy did not believe Christ that Jesus is responding to but rather they are focusing on the wrong thing: the seventy on the spiritual gift of exorcism, Martha on the spiritual gift of service. Jesus is bringing them back to a focus on Himself.

II. Jesus was thankful that His Father revealed the truth of the gospel to those who had no advantage in themselves (verses 21-24).

Christ’s thankfulness and joy in verse 21 refers not just to the reception of the villages and towns of the gospel of Christ but also to the faith of the seventy that produced such discipleship as that which they have just shown. The reason for His joy over the disadvantaged disciple is the disciples’ faith in the gospel of the kingdom.

It could be that Jesus is using a bit of sarcasm when talking about the wise and prudent. One of those wise and prudent men is introduced in verse 25. He was a lawyer, that is, a scribe who was an expert in the law of God. Jesus recognized his expertise when he answered correctly in verse 27, how to inherit eternal life. Yet this man had a spiritual blind spot which is revealed in verse 29 when he asked the self-justifying question, “And who is my neighbor?” This man understood the law, he even understood the spiritual character of the kingdom of God but he knew that he was lacking.

These seventy, however, were neither experts nor teachers. They were, however, men of great faith. Look at what Jesus demanded of them in 10:57-62. Only men of faith would forsake their homes, their families, and their social obligations to tell total strangers that the Messiah is coming. Some villages rejected them and they went on to another. Other villages accepted them. Why? Because God had revealed to them Jesus Christ and they had believed and now were telling others about Him.

a. This knowledge is not found by religious skill or religious intelligence (verses 21-24). Luther, in the last sermon he ever preached, describes the religiously skilled and religiously intelligent as those who try to put the bridle on the wrong end of the horse. Now I do not know a lot about horses but I suspect that will not work!

This lawyer had religious skill. He was a trained scribe. He had religious intelligence. Not only had he hand-copied the Old Testament many times, he had advanced to the place where he had understood its message but when the fulfillment of that message came on the stage, he did not recognize Him.

b. This knowledge comes only through Jesus Christ (verse 22). Verse 22 may be a bit confusing but if you read it carefully, it is clear that there is only one way to come to the Father, that is, to God, through Jesus Christ. Verse 21 reminds us that God found it good to give those without religious skill and training and intelligence an advantage through their knowledge of and faith through Jesus Christ.

i. He helps the helpless. Matthew records in a parallel passage how that Jesus does this. Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all you who are heavy laden and you will find rest for your souls.” The ignorant Galilean fisherman, the women who were looked down upon, the tax collectors and sinners who gladly heard Jesus, these people came to Jesus while the lawyers and the scribes and the Pharisees and the priests stood and looked down their noses at the One who would have gladly saved them from their sin, if only they would have received Him.

Look at the next chapter, Luke 11:52. “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” These men had all the advantages but rather than accept Christ with the faith of the helpless they rejected Christ and hindered others who would have trusted Christ, if not for their confidence in the religious lawyers, scribes, and teachers.

ii. He teaches the ignorant. How? Verse 23-24 tells us how. He shows them who He is. It is one thing to teach, “I am the Messiah.” It is quite another to prove it through Messianic works like healing, exorcism, and resurrections. I think that is why Romans 5:8 is one of my favorite verses. It says that God showed His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” His death on the cross teaches through showing and proving His love for us. The question is this. Will you believe?

There is a Persian proverb that says, “He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not is a fool; shun him. He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child; teach him.” God wants to teach you, not shun you. Turn to Christ today. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…and you will find rest for your souls.”



1. taliny - November 15, 2009

Instead of what do you want to do, they should have been asked about what they want to be.” This was my favorite and most eye- opening. I have’nt been to Church since… high school. 😐 It was a pleasure coming across this on a gorgeous Sunday Morning. Thank you.

2. John gichiri - February 6, 2012

Keep posting bible teachings via my email

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