National Day of Thanksgiving | Deuteronomy 8.1-10; Luke 17.11-19



All year long we have sought to live our lives in orbit around Christ and His Gifts.

Each of you, one by one,

And all of us together as Church,

Have been called to have Jesus as the center of our lives.


Not Jesus first,

As if He were at the top of a list of otherwise equal priorities,

But Jesus at the center –

In the words of the Reformation: Jesus alone.


As sinners freely forgiven for the sake of Christ,

As dead people made alive,

We have sought to live our new lives well:
Doing as Jesus does,

Saying as Jesus says,

And Loving as Jesus loves.


The idea, of course, is that Christians do these things in total freedom –

Not out of compulsion, and not out of fear,

But out of gratitude;

That is, thanksgiving, for everything you have been given.


As Christians,

You want to live as Jesus lives

And love as Jesus loves,

You want to say what Jesus says,

And do what Jesus does.

I know you do.


And since tomorrow is a national holiday, that might make folks like you wonder…
What is Thanksgiving like for Jesus?

What is Jesus thankful for?


It’s a good question.

And I’ve got at least a few ideas.


This isn’t an exhaustive list, but see if any of it sounds familiar:



Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”  When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” (Jn 11:41-43)


…He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  And they all ate and were satisfied. (Mt. 15:36-37)


That’s not a bad start.

Jesus gives thanks for some of the same things you do:

Prayers that are heard, friends that are comforted,

Food to fills hungry people’s stomachs.


It’s comforting to know that our God shares our humanity so much,

That he can truly rejoice in the things we rejoice in.


But then comes our Gospel text his evening.

Jesus heals ten lepers.

Completely, immediately, miraculously.


And you can be sure they were grateful in the way that most everyone means when they talk about being grateful or thankful.

They were overjoyed because they received for free something they could never have gotten on their own.


And so, overjoyed, with hearts full of gratitude,

They did exactly what Jesus told them to do:

They went and showed themselves to the priests.


I have no doubt that they also praised Him,

And told others what this Jesus had done.

They were grateful.

They were thankful.

And you would be, too.


Of course the Samaritan is the picture of thankfulness.

He’s not just as grateful as the others,

His gratitude is expressed in this way:

He comes back and worships Jesus.


And if you were here last year,

You know that the best part of that is that Jesus has so many more gifts to give.

He doesn’t need a tip of the cap, and a “Hey, thanks for the help.”

The best thanksgiving is worshiping Him, and receiving more gifts.


But there’s something else here,

And I don’t think I ever saw it until yesterday:


Jesus is thankful.

He is thankful that these 10 lepers appealed to Him for mercy and for healing.
He is thankful to see sin and death and pain begin to unravel in His presence.

And then there’s this:

Jesus is thankful for the one who returned to worship Him.


Jesus heals and gives life back to the ten lepers, and only one comes back.

I don’t want to say there’s no disappointment there.

Anyone mom who was hoping to get her whole family home for thanksgiving, and didn’t, know what that feels like.

And yet, Jesus is thankful for the one.


This, incidentally, is what keeps pastors from going insane when only half the people who are supposed to be here actually come.

Part of being conformed to the image of Christ is suffering as He suffers.

It hurts Him when they all don’t return.

It hurts me when you don’t return.

It hurts all of us to see someone just take their new life and go.


Of course Jesus wants all of them.

And of course, I want all of them, too.

But He is thankful for the one.

I am thankful for the one.


All in all, Jesus is thankful for you. And so am I.


I left out a verse earlier in the catalogue of Jesus’ thanksgivings,

It is challenging, but here it is.



Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat, this is My Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”


In the same way also, He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them saying, “Drink of it all of you, this cup is the New Testament in My Blood, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”



What is Thanksgiving like for Jesus?

How does Jesus give thanks?


Jesus gives thanks in the midst of betrayal and scorn.

Jesus gives thanks by going to the cross and dying in your place.

Jesus gives thanks by giving to you all that belongs to Him.

Jesus gives thanks by giving His Body into death for you;
Jesus gives thanks by pouring out His blood for you.


What else would we place on this altar?

What else would we eat for our thanksgiving meal, for our Eucharist?

What else would satisfy?

With all apologies to my own dear mother: nothing.


What Jesus wants most this Thanksgiving is what most of you want:

To be together again,

To be restored, reunited, and returned home.


Jesus is thankful for each one of you,

His own little brothers and sisters.

And in true thanksgiving,

He has spared no expense, and prepared for you this holy meal.

So let us come together with thanksgiving, and feast.



About Pastor Hopkins