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The Urgency of Forgiveness (Luke 17)

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Luke 17

Jesus teaches about faith and forgiveness
And he said to his disciples: Stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone was hung about his neck and he was thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.
   3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in the day and seven times turns again to you, saying: I repent: You shall forgive him.
   5 And the apostles said to the Lord: Increase our faith. 6 And the Lord said: If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this sycamore tree: Be rooted up and be planted in the sea- and it would obey you.
   7 But who is there of you, having a servant ploughing or keeping sheep, that will say to him when he comes in from the field: Come immediately and sit down to eat. 8 Instead will he not say to him: Make ready my supper and dress yourself and serve me, and after I have eaten and drunk, then you shall eat and drink? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded? I think not. 10 Even so you also, when you shall have done all the things that are commanded of you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do.

Jesus heals ten lepers
   11 And it came to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men who were lepers, who stood far away. 13 And they lifted up their voices, saying: Jesus, master, have mercy on us! 14 And when he saw them, he said to them: Go and show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God in a loud voice. 16 And he fell upon his face at his feet, giving him thanks- though he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus responded: Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger? 19 And he said to him: Arise and go your way. Your faith has made you whole.

The coming of Messiah
20 And being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God comes, he answered them and said: The kingdom of God comes not with observation. 21 Neither shall they say, Here it is, or, There it is! For the kingdom of God is among you. 22 And he said to the disciples: The days will come, when you shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man and you shall not see it. 23 And they shall say to you, Look there, or, Look here. Do not go, nor follow after them. 24 For as the lightning shines from one part under the heaven to the other part under heaven, so shall the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.
   26 And as it was in the days of Noah, even so shall it also be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot- they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. 29 But in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 After the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of Man is revealed.
   31 In that day, he that shall be on the housetop with his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away, and let him that is in the field likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot's wife! 33 Whoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it, but whoever shall lose it shall preserve it.
   34 I say to you: In that night there shall be two men in one bed. One shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 There shall be two women grinding together at the mill; one shall be taken and the other shall be left. 36 There shall be two men in the field; one shall be taken and the other shall be left. 37 And they answered and said to him: Where, Lord? And he said to them: Where the body is, there will also the eagles gather together.



17:2 Causing others to stumble is the very worst kind of sin. We should therefore think carefully how our words and actions are going to impact others; and be careful that we set the right example to others. The punishment of a millstone being hung around the neck and cast into the sea is that of Babylon’s punishment at the last day (Rev. 18:21). Those within the church who make others stumble, e.g. by unreasonable demands upon them or excluding them, are no better than Babylon, the great enemy of God. How we treat others is very, very important.

17:4 If someone sins so many times each day and claims to have repented, it’s obvious their repentance isn’t sincere. So Jesus is teaching that we should forgive people without trying to assess if their repentance is sincere, or even if it is apparent that their repentance is insincere. The radical grace of God to us requires that we should simply forgive others without demanding their repentance.

17:10 Unprofitable servants- The same phrase is used in Mt. 25:30 about those who will be condemned at the final judgment when Jesus returns. After we have, as we think, done everything we should- we must still recognize that we deserve only condemnation. When doing good deeds, it’s necessary to remember that we are sinners; we have already sinned, we still sin, and probably will sin again before Jesus returns. This will mean that we do our good works with a humble spirit; if they are done with a spiritually arrogant attitude, this is a huge turn off to the world and ruins our witness.

17:21 “Within” can also be translated “among”. Jesus as King of the Kingdom of God can be called “the Kingdom of God”. All the principles of God’s Kingdom were to be found in Him. The Jews were looking for Messiah to come, and Jesus is saying they don’t have to look here and there for Him; because He, the Messiah, was already among them. The Kingdom of God wasn’t within the hearts of “you”, i.e. the Pharisees.

17:27 Until the day- There is strong Biblical emphasis on the fact that the flood began on the day Noah entered the ark. But Gen. 7:1,4 says that God told Noah seven days before the flood came to enter the ark. But actually he didn’t do this- he entered the very day the rain came. Why? Surely because he was begging people to come into the ark- he was a preacher (2 Pet. 2:5). Do our hearts desperately bleed for the people around us, as we await the coming of Jesus?

17:32 Lot’s wife looked back behind her when she had been told not. She mourned the loss of her home and possessions. The command Lot received to leave Sodom is therefore typical of the command we will receive to leave this present situation and go to be with Christ in Jerusalem when He returns. If we look back on this world with longing, we will share the judgment of this world. Lot’s wife was turned to salt, which was also the punishment which came upon the area around Sodom (Gen. 19:23; Dt. 29:23).

17:37 Don’t worry where the judgment seat will be, or how we will get there. We will get there as naturally as God makes the eagles go into the air and come down where the carcass is.