Just days ahead of Thanksgiving, evangelist Will Graham gives at least three reasons for Christians to join with him and burst with thankfulness and jump with joy.
Using the story of Jesus healing ten men with leprosy, as found in Luke 17:11–19, the eldest son of Franklin Graham recalls how they all ran off excited once they were healed. “But only one came back to praise God for what had happened,” he writes on Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website.
Just as these men were physically healed of their leprosy, says the grandson of Billy Graham, we receive salvation, or spiritual healing, from Jesus that warrants our gratitude. Salvation, he adds, is an “unbelievable gift” we have received but “rather than bursting with thankfulness and jumping with joy we tuck it into the back of the dresser like a pair of socks.”
Keeping our salvation in mind, the story of healing in Luke offers at least three reasons why we should be thankful this Thanksgiving, suggests Graham, the assistant director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.
Verses 11-13 talk about Jesus going through Samaria and Galilee, both of which were made up of people stigmatized by society, he says. While Samaritans were considered unclean, Galileans were misfits and rogues. Yet Jesus went to them; they did not have to go to Jesus. “Similarly, God came down from heaven some 2,000 years ago in order to redeem mankind.” And that’s the first reason why we should thank God.
According to verse 14, Graham goes on, the men with leprosy yelled out to Jesus because the law required them to stay at a distance in order to prevent infecting others – though leprosy is no longer seen as essentially infectious or incurable. But Jesus stopped and answered their cry for help, added the 36-year-old associate evangelist of the BGEA.
These men realized they were very sick and could not help themselves, he said. And they realized that only Jesus could help them. So this leads to the second reason for gratitude. “When we cry out to Christ for our salvation, it is because we understand that we are unable to save ourselves.”
The same verse also records Jesus telling the men to go show themselves to the priests, and on the way, the men were healed. “They exercised faith in Jesus – they believed He could heal them – and showed obedience as they did exactly what Jesus commanded them to do.” Only Jesus has the ability to forgive sin and cleanse us spiritually, as he cleansed the men physically, Graham said. “We should be thankful that we serve a God who can heal, cleanse and save – physically and spiritually – and who comes to us and invites us into communion with Him” – the third and final reason to be thankful.
Graham warns that as we enter the holiday season things will begin to get hectic, “but I encourage you to be sure that you aren’t like the other nine.” The Bible says that only one man came back to thank Jesus, and when he did, he was honoring God.
He says he personally has many reasons to be thankful this year. “I’ve been blessed with opportunities around the world to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ over the past several months, from Canada to Kenya, the Jersey Shore to the Philippines,” he writes. “I’ve seen miracles take place this year as I’ve watched people place their eternal faith in the hands of Christ.”