Summary: how the lord asks us to watch ourselves and each other - a difficult task that needs faith!
October 21, 2001 Luke 17:1-10
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So watch yourselves.
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
My Dear Friends and Children in Christ,
One of the most awful sins that you can commit is the sin of arrogance. When you have come to the point where you say to yourself, “I know all there is to know,” or, “the devil cannot touch me,” I am afraid that you are close to being lost, if you have not been lost already.
When Jesus was confronted with arrogance, He had an interesting way of dealing with it. He gave it a challenge - a command. There was a rich young man who claimed that he had actually obeyed his parents ever since he was a boy. He claimed to never covet - never steal - never lust. So Jesus said, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” With this command, the young man was humbled. He was given a mirror which said to him, “you love your money more than you love your Savior.” It was an ugly picture to look at, and the man went away sad. Instead of letting the rich young man feel good about himself, Jesus took the millstone of God’s law and hung it around his neck.
This was one response when Jesus issued a challenge and command from God. The other one is found in today’s text. Perhaps Jesus disciples were becoming arrogant. Maybe they were thinking to themselves, “this Christianity thing isn’t too hard after all.” And so Jesus issued some commands. However, as disciples of Jesus, they didn’t sadly walk away. They threw their hands up and prayed, “Lord increase our faith!” After we look at these words, you will either walk away sad, or you also will cry,
Lord, Increase Our Faith!
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves. Jesus literally told his disciples to “pay attention to” themselves. When your classmate or child spends hours in front of the mirror, you would call such a person self absorbed - and arrogant. It would seem strange then, that in order to fight arrogance Jesus would tell you to look at yourself. But before Jesus told his disciples to look at themselves, he didn’t say, “you are such good disciples. You fight temptation so well. You listen so well.” Instead, he did the exact opposite.
He first of all warned them that things that cause sin are bound to come. Those things that cause sin are bound to come - are literally called scandals or stumbling blocks. When you’re walking down the street and you aren’t watching, it is easy to stumble on one of those cracks that stick up out of the ground. That’s what Jesus warned was coming. In Revelation, John said that it had come through false teachers. In Galatians, Paul was dealing with a false practice of circumcision - that was leading people to stumble and fall. With Judas, it was the greed within. With David, it was the lust of his sinful flesh. Stumbling blocks come in all shapes and sizes.
So Jesus warned his disciples, “woe to that person through whom they come.” Notice the way he puts that - to that person THROUGH WHOM they come. Imagine if you were at work and a deadly disease was transmitted to you. How would you feel if you unwittingly took that disease home, and unwittingly killed your wife and children? What a terrible thing! What could be worse? Jesus says it could be worse if you caused a little one - someone weak in the faith - to sin. What is even more incredible is that Jesus said in Matthew 7, Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Here we have an instance of people who thought they were doing good, but who were actually instruments of the devil. If the devil could so persuade someone that he was doing miracles and chasing out demons when he was actually doing evil, then what about you?