John T. Willis

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jesus' Teachings about Misleading Others, Forgiveness, Trust, and Humility--Luke 17:1-10

As Jesus continues to travel toward Jerusalem for the crucifixion, in Luke 17:1-10 Jesus gives four specific instructions to his disciples, his true followers. Accordingly, this paragraph falls into four parts. I. Misleading Other People. Luke 17:1-3a. a. Jesus now addresses his disciples. He openly declares that occasions for stumbling [that is, occasions when people deliberately attempt to cause others to do the wrong thing, when people mislead other people]. Jesus is very concerned about anyone who attempts to mislead other people. These are "stumbling blocks." 17:1. b. Jesus says it would be better if a millstone were hung around a person's neck and thrown into the sea than for that person to mislead one of "these little ones." The "little ones" are the innocent, the inexperienced, those who trust all people, etc. People with evil hearts wish to change the commitment of godly people from God to Satan and his wiles. Jesus strongly condemns such people. 17:2. c. Thus, Jesus admonishes his true disciples: "Be on your guard." Do not allow evil people to change your heart and commitment to God, and do not mislead other people. 17:3a. II. Forgiveness. Luke 17:3b-4. a. Jesus says that true love leads a follower of God to do two things: (1) rebuke a person when he or she sins; (2) if that person repents, forgive that person. Such a rebuke must be frank, firm, and gentle in the spirit of Christ. When an individual harms one's brother or sister, one must rebuke that individual instead of harboring a grudge or going to a third person with gossip or slander. If that individual repents, one must fogive him or her. 17:3b. b. This is not a one time event. If a person sins against another person seven times and repents, that person must forgive the offender. 17:4. This message is very similar to Matthew 18:15-22. III. Trust. Luke 17:5-6. a. Jesus' apostles respond: "Increase our faith!" That is, add more faith or trust to what we already have, or add faith or trust to the other gifts which you have given us. 17:5. b. Jesus replied: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could said to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and transplanted in the sea," and it would obey you. The faith of godly people could grow and have a power that would be limitless because of the power of God. This message appears in Mark 11:22-23 and Matthew 17:20, and calls to mind Paul's statement that faith can move mountains in 1 Corinthians 13:2, and his confidence: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). IV. Humility. Luke 17:7-10. a. Now Jesus paints a simple picture. A slave works hard all day long. He comes in and his master tells him to prepare his supper and serve his master. The master does not thank the slave for what he has done. Here, Jesus is making a very important point about the true function of all of God's followers. We are all God's slaves. We deserve nothing. We should be very grateful because God is our master and we have the opportunity of serving him daily and uncessantly. 17:7-9. b. Accordingly, Jesus concludes: "When you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done.'" No matter how much we have done, what we have done for God is woefully inadequate. It is very easy for us to assume that God owes something to us because we are so faithful or so diligent or so intelligent or so superior to others. All of us should rejoice because we are GOD's slaves, and not the slaves of the devil or sin or corruption. 17:10. Share YOUR experiences and restraints and visions and holdbacks and inadequacies with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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