Summary: Jesus confronts the Pharisees with their false theology regarding their understanding of God with parables. He then, in Luke 17 speaks to the disciples about reality. Sin happens. Forgiveness will work. It is our duty to imitae Jesus.
In Jesus Holy Name October 7, 2007
Text: Luke 17:1,3,4,10 Redeemer
“Sin: It Happens! Forgiveness: Will It Work? Have Faith”
Jesus was a middle-aged Rabbi. People flocked to hear him. They were fascinated. He told stories. He challenged the Pharisees who were filled with self righteous religious pride. The Pharisees wanted to exclude people by making their own rules about who could be accepted by God. In Chapter 15 Jesus made the point that God was concerned about those who are spiritually lost.
He confronted their false understanding of God with the parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, The Lost Son and the Shrewd Manager. He concludes his challenge to the Pharisees with the ultimate eternal destiny of those who reject God …with the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
In Chapter 17 Jesus now speaks to the disciples. He offers a reality check.
Things that cause people to sin are going to happen. James makes the same point. “When tempted. Not if. Temptation will come. James: “When you face trials, difficulties,” not if. This is life. Jesus states reality. “Things that cause people to sin are going to happen.” “But woe to that person through whom the temptation comes.”
How many of you have watched your children or grandchildren imitate you? Children walk in their parent’s footsteps on the beach. They stretch their legs to imitate their parent’s footsteps. This past weekend we had the opportunity to baby sit our granddaughter for a few hours.
She was in her highchair eating with her fork and hands. I was also at the table eating. I took a napkin and wiped my hands and mouth. Sydney held out her hand, so I handed her the napkin and she did the same.
Children imitate their parents. They will feed their doll, help with housework, and they will imitate your words and behavior.
Few parents would ever physically poison their children, but many have poisoned their children’s minds and attitudes. “If your behavior causes someone else to embrace sinful behavior or attitude, Jesus said … “You need a big rock and a short rope.”
We are responsible for our words, and actions. It’s a very serious thing. Notice what Jesus says to the disciples: “So watch yourselves.”
I know this will surprise you but Jesus said “Sometimes Christians can be extremely rude and cruel to other members in the body of Christ.” The only way to maintain good relations with other believers is to be willing to forgive others when they hurt you. C.S. Lewis wrote: “We all agree that forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have to practice it!”
Jesus said forgiveness should be practiced and you can not keep count! We must acknowledge that it is not difficult to offend others. And it’s easy to get our own feelings hurt in the family of God. It is, however, hard to forgive. Why? Because we are afraid the words of forgiveness we speak will not work.
Jesus said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,,, forgiveness will work!” How did the disciples respond? “Then give us more faith!”
A mustard seed is smaller than the head of a pin. Just expect forgiveness to work. It may not change the other person, but it will change you.
The point: You already have faith. Even if it is small, you can do great things.” Faith is a gift from God. What we need, what the disciples needed, was more faithfulness in practicing forgiveness. Trust that forgiveness will work.
You are probably familiar with the old saying that I first heard from Rev Chuck Swindol years ago
“To dwell with saints we love
Oh…that would be glory
But to live below with saints we know
…well, that’s another story.”
The apostle’s, like us, knew the difficulty of forgiveness and were afraid the words of forgiveness would not work. We’ve all tried a little forgiveness on our children or our friends and they did not respond by doing what we wanted them to do. They quickly disobeyed or offended us again.
Jesus simply tells us … You don’t need more faith. Use the faith you have and it will work. God holds us responsible for practicing forgiveness, not for the other person’s reaction.
Jesus is very realistic. “Look, fellows let me tell you something about life. There will always be temptations to sin. That’s the reality since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Temptations come. Problems come. Just don’t be the source of temptations to others.
When we come to the matter of forgiveness we get snagged. Every person here is in need of forgiveness. We are sinners. Jesus gives direction to the disciples on how to respond when others treat us wrong; when the hurt is deep, the offense great?