Summary: We often mistakenly pray for more faith when all we need to do is live out what faith we already have following the commands of God through Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 17: 5 – 10 / Increase Our Faith
Intro: funambulist - Jean Francois Gravelot (The Great Blondin) On June 30, 1859, at 5 pm, Blondin made his first journey across the Falls. Blondin utilized a 1,300 foot long, 3 inch diameter manila rope stretched from what is now Prospect Park in Niagara Falls, New York to what is now Oakes Garden in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He began his first walk from the American side and completed his crossing in 20 minutes using a thirty-foot long balancing pole that weighed 40 pounds. At midpoint, he stopped, dropped a bottle tied with a piece of twine into the Maid of the Mist tourist boat below, hauled up some Niagara River water, drank it, and resumed his journey. He arrived on the far bank triumphant. He rested briefly, accepted a glass of champagne, performed a little dance on the rope, and walked back across in just eight minutes. For two summers, Blondin performed above the Niagara. During his subsequent performances, he crossed the Falls on a bicycle, on stilts, and at night. He swung by one arm, turned somersaults, and stood on his head on a chair. He pushed a stove in a wheelbarrow and cooked an omelet and on one occasion, crossed blindfold in a heavy sack made of blankets. His greatest feat was to carry his agent, Harry Colcord on his back across the falls. At his last Niagara Falls performance, September 8th 1860, he sat a table balanced on the tightrope, ate cake and drank champagne. In 1897, at the age of 73, he died at his home. (Maisah Robinson, Ph.D., May 4, 2006)
I. Gravelot showed great faith in his ability to walk a tightrope; but, what of the faith of Harry Colcord. VS. 5 – seeking faith!
A. To their inquiry we read the words of Jesus in VS. 6 – “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. You don’t even have faith the size of a mustard seed!
B. The Prosperity Gospel – if you pray hard enough and do everything God expects of you, you will get what you want.
C. If you don’t get what you want, it is your fault because you don’t have enough faith.
II. If we hear Jesus speak with the voice of love, is the message different? Using the same words, can we arrive at a different conclusion?
A. Jackie loved her father very much. When he contracted cancer, she was devastated! She prayed every day that her father would be cured; but, in six months he was dead. ?
B. How do we know when faith is sufficient? Does it depend on the number of times a day we pray or the number of verses we read in the Bible? How do we know when we have enough faith?
C. Jesus artfully moves the question from “How much faith is enough?” to “What is faith for?” He tells the disciples and us through image and story, “you already have the faith you need. Now fulfill its purpose; live it!”
III. VS. 7 – 10 contains a parable over which many have struggled because we look at it from the bias of our perspective on slavery or bondage.
A. Jesus is not supporting or condemning slavery. He refers to a practice that was prevalent at his time. He is talking about the relationship of master to slave and slave to master.
B. The master expects the servants to perform their duties, and the servants in turn, expect that when their work is done, they will receive nourishment and rest and protection.
C. As slavery is a way of life, so is faith! Those who serve God do so with a sense of duty and delight, living a life according to God’s commandments.
Conclu: Faith is not stockpiled in a storehouse for the working of spiritual wonders, but is lived out as obedience to a just and loving God. Trusting the One with whom we are in relationship, we relinquish any illusions of self-reliance, acknowledging that faith cannot be measured, only enacted.