November 9 - Luke 17:1-10

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Luke 17:1-10 – Sin, Faith, Duty

Jesus teaches that the capacity for forgiveness must be boundless and when his disciples hear his words, they cry out for an increase in faith. Jesus asks more of us than we believe we can handle when it comes to grace and forgiveness and yet, he tells us that we already have more power than we need to meet the challenge.

Jesus begins this passage by addressing the disciples. Luke’s words are carefully chosen. He ensures that his readers know that the Lord is fully aware of what it means to live in the world. There will be things that cause people to sin. Sin happens.

Jesus’ strongest words of condemnation are not for the person who sins, but the one who causes that person to sin. That is the one who would face a better end to their life if a millstone were tied around their neck and they were tossed into the sea. In Luke 17:2, Jesus refers to the ‘little ones.’ These are not children, but those who are young in the faith, whom the disciples will be in charge of mentoring. Anyone who brings sin to these people who follow Jesus is doomed.

In Luke 17:3-4, Jesus says something that we hear, but rarely comprehend. We get stuck on the first part of the command and forget the second. “If your brother sins … rebuke him and if he repents, forgive him.” Now, that is a powerful sentence, but the next lends even more power to Jesus command.

Most pastors teach that repentance is ‘turning away’ from sin and never repeating it again. That’s absolutely true, but Jesus is speaking about forgiveness and grace that comes from God. If your brother sins against you seven times a day (this is not meant to be the upper limit of sins one can commit … it is symbolic of an unlimited amount of times), and each time comes back and says “I repent,” you are to forgive him … over and over.

At this point the apostles realize they cannot do this alone and plead with the Lord to increase their faith.

We can’t continue to forgive an unlimited amount of times, even if Jesus tells us that we must. We have our limits and when those limits have passed, we step away and cease to act as Jesus has called us to act. We feel we must protect ourselves from the continued bashing that occurs.

The disciples asked for more faith and Jesus told them something we should all hear. We can continue to offer forgiveness even if we don’t accept the continued assault. All it takes is faith as small as a mustard seed to have the power to forgive.

Forgiveness is imperative.

In the last point that Jesus makes, he reminds the disciples that they not only have the power to forgive, but it is their duty. When all is said and done, the disciples … those who follow Jesus must say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

Sin happens. Faith brings power to forgive. Forgiveness is our duty.