Summary: Jesus is still travelling towards Jerusalem. Along the way He gives instruction to the crowd and to the disciples. Luke 17: 1-10 contains four challenges to the disciples.
Lessons for Disciples
Luke 17: 1-10
Jesus is still travelling towards Jerusalem. Along the way He gives instruction to the crowd and to the disciples. Luke 17: 1-10 contains four challenges to the disciples.
1. A disciple must avoid putting stumbling blocks in front of others (17: 1-3a).
’Stumbling blocks. must come’ or (more literally translated) ’It is impossible for stumbling blocks not to come’.
A ’stumbling block’ is a cause of sin. It is not simply something that causes surprise. Sometimes a Christian might say to another Christian, ’You have made me stumble’ - when all that he means is that he is surprised at what the other person did. In some parts of the world over-conservative people like to claim that they have been ’made to stumble’.
But being ’made to stumble’ is being led into sin. We must not criticise other Christians, just because they are different from ourselves. Causing someone to stumble is to cause someone to sm.
Jesus’ concern is that we ourselves should not become a ’stumbling block’ to another disciple. God gets angry if we lead another person into sin. Better to be drowned and end our life prematurely than face the anger of God in which some of our reward in heaven is lost because our lives have had an impact for the worse. ’Take heed to yourselves,’ says Jesu (17:3a).
2. A disciple must practice unlimited forgiveness (17:3b-4)
These verses are linked with the previous ones. We seek to help each other not to sin, but when someone in the fellowshi does sin, what then? Jesus says: ’If your brother sins, rebuke him’ (17:3b). Disciples have a responsibility to admonish each other. Of course, we have to be sure it really is sin that we are dealing with. But if we see a brother or sister in the Lord clearly sinning, we are urged to go to him and as lovingly as possible rebuke him. It takes great humility and loving skill! What we tend to do is get bitter about another person’s sin or complain to our friends or visit the pastor with our complaint.
Jesus says: go and see the person concerned!
Then: ’if he repents, forgive him’ (17:3c). Weare forbidden to continue in hostility. We are forbidden to hold a grudge.
We might ask: what if the person does not repent? Matthew 18:16-17 tells us more. But there still has to be a forgiving attitude in us, even when it might not be possible to assure the . other person that he or she is forgiven - because he or she shows no signs of repentance. But even towards ’a Gentile or a tax collector’ (Matthew 18: 17) our attitude still has to be one of forgiveness.
If a brother or sister has a problem with one particular sin, the forgiving might have to go on for a long time (17:4).
3. A disciple must seek increase of faith (17:5-6).
The disciples ask that their faith might be increased (17:5). What exactly, I wonder, did they expect Jesus to do? Were they wanting a miraculous increase of faith to take place in their hearts by the decree of Jesus?
Jesus does not seem to say much about how to increase faith. He simply describes the very great value and power of faith (17:6). It is not quantity of faith that concerns Him.