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True Discipleship Makes the Extraordinary Normal (Luke 17:1-19)

Luke 17:1–19 - 1 He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2 “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. 7 “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? 8 “But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? 9 “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’ ” 11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 “Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Jesus begins by warning His disciples about the grave danger of causing others to sin, saying it would be better to be drowned than to cause spiritual harm (vv. 1-2). He tells them that they need to be able to forgive others over and over again (vv. 3-4). His disciples ask Him to increase their faith. Jesus responds saying that simple genuine faith as small as a mustard seed can produce great things (vv. 5-6). He then uses an analogy to emphasize that they should humbly do the work that God calls them to without expectation of merit or other recognition (vv. 7-10). Then, while traveling toward Jerusalem, Jesus healed 10 men with leprosy after they cried out to Him. However, only one returned, glorifying God loudly with thanksgiving when He realized He was miraculously cured (vv. 11-19). How can I apply Luke 17:1-19 to my life? Jesus teaches His disciples difficult but vital lessons about living in community as citizens of His kingdom. He highlights principles like accountability, forgiveness, faith, humility, and thankfulness - calling His followers to live by a higher standard than the world expects. At first, these teachings may have seemed harsh or even impossible to the disciples. But they needed to embrace this picture of different values and lifestyles in God’s upside-down kingdom. The same holds true today. As modern disciples, reading Jesus’ words should challenge us profoundly. Do we justify sins of influence and ethical compromise? Do we nurse grudges? Do we pray empty words without corresponding faith? Do we feel entitled to special treatment for simply completing basic obedience? God calls us to more through the help of His Spirit. As we reflect on this passage, let us open our hearts to conviction and willingness to change. Jesus longs to shape His body into a community that shines light to the nations by how we love one another and give Him glory. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Those Who Cause Others to Stumble in their Faith Will Face Dire Consequences (vv. 1-2): Jesus makes the alarming statement that those who cause others to sin would be better off thrown into the sea with a millstone around their necks. Clearly, leading young believers into misconduct carries severe eternal risks that require dramatic action to avoid. Guard carefully against flippantly tempting others or modeling sinful behaviors that could erode spiritual growth. Interact instead with wisdom and discretion. As mature Christians, our conduct and speech carry great influence, for better or worse. When we grow careless in how we wield that influence, we may inadvertently shake the faith of younger believers. Before taking action or making flippant remarks, pause to consider how it could undermine someone's conscience. Does your behavior honor the spiritual boundaries of others, even when inconvenient? God sees our impact on the faith journey of fellow Christians. We must take intentional safeguards not to confuse or discourage them from wholehearted obedience (Romans 14:13-21, 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, Ephesians 5:3-4).

Food for Thought: When have my actions recently proven a stumbling block to others rather than spurring them toward maturity? What relationships might require greater discretion?

  1. Always Be willing to Forgive a Fellow Believer Even If They Sin Against You Regularly (vv. 3-4): After Jesus’ stern warning about offenses, He transitioned to the expectation of His followers to forgive freely. Offenses will inevitably arise, even repeated wrongs from the same person. But we are called to exhibit grace every single time in obedience to Jesus’ example... Choosing to forgive and release grievances should become second nature for believers empowered by the Holy Spirit. We all continually depend on God’s mercy for our own shortcomings. Our willingness to forgive others demonstrates recognition of the immense grace we ourselves have received. Whenever irritation and resentment toward others arise, draw near to God again in humility and acknowledge your own imperfections. Ask Him for strength and compassion to forgive quickly without harboring bitterness, no matter how often the same issue resurfaces. As we show mercy, we become more like our merciful Savior (Matthew 18:21-22, Ephesians 4:29-32, Colossians 3:12-13).

Food for Thought: Who do I need to forgive today even though it requires drawing yet again on God’s grace? Why should I remain willing to forgive that relationship freely?

  1. Even the Smallest Amount of the Right Kind of Faith Can Do Miraculous Things (vv. 5-6): As the disciples hear Jesus’ exhortation to forgive others, they plead with Him to increase their faith so that they might be able to do so.  He tells them that they don’t need more faith but rather the right kind of faith emphasizing that even a sincere faith in God as small as a mustard seed can triumph over impossible situations. With appropriate humility, God does astounding works through those clinging tightly to Him regardless appearances of insignificance. When we feel too ordinary, under-resourced or talentless for God to use significantly, this passage offers encouragement. Limitations become irrelevant through faith in the all-powerful, loving Creator and Redeemer. Our main responsibility is simply yielding every aspect of life fully to Jesus with unwavering faith in His complete capability and desire to work through us. There is no circumstance or shortage able to get in the way of His purposes when met with resolute, expectant faith and reliance on Christ. Determine today to offer your mustard seed of faith, holding nothing back. Expect to see His power unleashed to change lives, including your own (Matthew 17:20, Mark 11:22-24, Hebrews 11:1).

Food for Thought: Do I truly believe in God's ability and desire to do great things through me specifically? What would it look like this week to act in everyday choices based on that faith?

  1. Faithfulness, Humble Service, and Gratitude Are Expected Lifestyles for Every Believer, Not Exceptional Behaviors (vv. 7-19): Jesus first affirmed the miraculous potential even in modest, sincere faith. But we must not become prideful when God does miraculous things through our faith as if God’s power flows from our effort. Jesus then warns against expecting honor for merely doing what He calls us to do as His faithful servants in light of immense mercy we’ve received. Consider also the ten lepers cleansed by Jesus. Only one turned back to glorify God and give thanks. Does my walk reflect the one with the grateful heart or the other nine, taking God’s grace for granted? Does it reflect an attitude of unwavering praise and humility like the one? For believers, faithfulness in small things, selfless service and constant gratitude should be instinctive responses to God’s lavish grace, not merit badges earning applause. Live in the awareness that even your best efforts could never earn redemption. With our focus fixed on the cross, joyful devotion will flow freely. We need to remain centered on the Greatest Servant and what His blood purchased. Consistent obedience, worship and thankfulness must characterize those following the Risen Lord (1 Corinthians 4:7, John 15:5-8, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Food for Thought: Why do followers of Jesus often fall into the trap of expecting special recognition for basic obedience? How might remembering the cross foster consistency in doing good even when unnoticed? Jesus made it clear that He expects His followers to live differently than the rest of the world. He calls us to higher standards when it comes to influencing others, forgiveness, faith, servanthood, and gratitude. At times, His teachings may sound severe because He is preparing disciples for holy lives set apart for God’s glory. But we do not strive for obedience alone out of solemn duty or fear. As recipients of unmerited grace, we obey out of love, empowered by the Spirit now at work within us. When we fall short, may we quickly repent, turn to the cross, remembering the great mercy that was offered to us first, and resolve again to walk blamelessly in God’s strength. May our fellowship, worship and whole lives resound with thankfulness for the extravagant gift of salvation through Christ. Let us encourage one another toward maturity and faithfulness until the day our Lord returns to welcome His people home. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would search my heart and life and reveal any areas where I am falling short of Your standards in this passage. Forgive me for carelessness with my influence and failure to guard others’ faith. Forgive my grudges and withholding of mercy toward those who have wronged me time and again. Forgive me for impure motives and lack of trust when I pray empty words not backed by expectation that You answer boldly. Help me embrace humble service without assumptions of entitlement, obeying out of joy that I have the honor to serve the King of kings. Fan into flame more steadfast gratitude for all You have done, while increase kindles my compassion for those still suffering without hope. I long to grow as a faithful follower of Jesus, spine straightened by the beauty of His sacrifice for me. Align my priorities and lifestyle to Your upside-down kingdom, I pray. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 17:4 - “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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