I cannot think of a snappy, funny way to look at what Jesus is saying. Jesus has serious words for us. It is serious business, this following Jesus. These are not only sayings of Jesus that are thrown together because Luke couldn’t find any other place for them. These ten verses relay how serious we are to be in following Jesus.
Once again, Jesus is speaking to the disciples. Once again, we realize that Jesus is speaking to us. As we are following Jesus, the question becomes, “Have we done what we ought to have done?”
Oh, we cannot do more than we ought to do. There has seemed to be a fallacy that once we complete a certain number of faithful works, we are done. And if we complete any faithful work, we may even think that we can move on up to be recognized for our accomplishments. I don’t know about you, but when we start to think along those lines, someone is going to stumble.
A. Stumbling will occur (17:1-2)
1. Someone could be turned off from Jesus by our attitudes or actions
2. Woe to us when that happens!
3. It would be better if we had a millstone hung around our neck and thrown into the sea
4. For our attitudes or actions could cause a little one (child/weak in faith/another disciple) to stumble
5. It sure sounds like we have to keep a check on our attitudes and our actions. I think the question: “Have we done what we ought to have done?” helps us to adjust our own attitudes and actions. Otherwise, our sin of pride causes someone to stumble. When other disciples notice our sin, they have the obligation to stop us.
B. We stop a disciple, then we stop ourselves by forgiving the offender (17:3-4)
1. Rebuking another disciple is not fun, but necessary – for them & us!
2. If that other disciple repents, then we forgive!
3. Have we done what we ought to have done?
4. Forgiving once we can go along with that idea
5. Forgiving the same disciple for seven sins in one day? That is going too far!
6. Have we done what we ought to have done?
7. Wow. Jesus is not cutting the disciples any slack. Neither does Jesus cut us any slack. If they repent, then we forgive. Earlier in this same gospel, Jesus said that we forgive if we want God to forgive us (11:4)! This is such a large task. Are the disciples up to the task? Are we up to this task of forgiving those who repent?
C. We can do this work, if we have more faith (17:5-6)
1. The apostles, the leaders of the disciples, demanded the increased faith
2. It appears that it is not a matter of having more faith
3. It appears as if Jesus is telling them to use/live the faith they have
4. By even the faith of a mustard seed, we can tell a mulberry tree to be planted in the sea
5. I wonder if Jesus is saying, “Look guys, faith in God can cause miracles to happen. Even you forgiving those who offend you can happen.” I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is a miracle for us to forgive one another. Yet, with the faith we have, we can be obedient to Jesus. Have we done what we ought to have done?
D. What are we ought to have done? (17:7-10)
1. Jesus makes it real personal for the disciples and the apostles
2. If you were a master, wouldn’t you expect our slaves/servants to do their work?
3. If you were a slave/servant, then wouldn’t you be obligated to do what you had been commanded to do?
4. There is no commendation for doing what we ought to be doing
5. What are we ought to have done?
6. Forgiving one another
7. Maybe that is the way we can be living as disciples today. As we are constantly forgiving one another, we are living our faith in Jesus. As we are constantly forgiving one another, we are removing stumbling blocks from the little ones. Have we done what we ought to have done?
On this World Communion Sunday, we realize that God has forgiven us through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is through the bread that we realize we are the body of Christ. Since Jesus’ body and blood are the means of our forgiveness, then we forgive those others who are also part of the body of Christ.
It seems that Jesus wants us to be obedient. I hope I can be obedient. I hope you can be obedient. For each of us can say, “We are worthless slaves, we have done only what we ought to have done.”