Turn the other cheek He says. Oh how hard this is! How hard it is to forgive when we have been wronged! The apostles were not the exception. How often have you felt the desire to cause pain as you have felt pain? I am ashamed to admit it but I have. Like the apostles asked Jesus in Luke 9:54 “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” It is so good we don’t have that kind of power for there would have been lots of fires on my way!
In our Scripture today, I am thinking Jesus is expressing His love and understanding for us! for all of us! I can imagine He is sighing and thinking about our human struggles. As God in a human form, He could feel our pain. Not that He is not willing to forgive any of our sins but He warns about how to handle each other so that instead of pushing each other down, we are in the look out to lift each other up!
In this case the command Love your neighbor as yourself is the key for understanding. Luke 17:1 He said: “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! This warning is concerning and it is meant to be. We are to obey as He commands.
He is warning us to be careful on how we treat each other for if because of us, a young Christian, a child of His, wether physically young or old stumbles, It will not go unpunished. This is not meant to be an excuse for people to use and go away from the faith for they too will respond to how accurate that excuse applies.
What He said next could be scarier if we did not know that He is the perfect impartial judge and knows the reasons why we do the things we do and will take it all into account on judgement day. Luke 17:2 “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble”
How many times have I acted stupid and given Christians a bad name? I am sure many times. Am I condemned? Sure I am but he has paid the price for me and as I get to know Him better and follow His path, I try to change how I treat others. This is what He is asking us to do. Luke 17:3 “Be on your guard! and if your brothers sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” This too is a command!
What is Jesus asking me to do? Love my brother as myself! give grace as He has given me grace! As many times as my brother asks for forgiveness I am to forgive. Just as Jesus does for me! Oh, the pressure!
Are you feeling what the Apostles are feeling? “Oh man, this is too complicated! Who can do this?” They ask Jesus for help! They think ” This can only be accomplished if we have more faith” Jesus, increase our faith, they asked.
Jesus responded: ” 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” Can you hear it? Jesus is saying “If you could only experience the power of faith!” sight!..
Remember our blog about the mustard seed in The agent of growth? Here is an insert of what we learned: So how does the mustard seed that grew into the gardener’s garden demonstrates the Kingdom of God? God’s kingdom is the state of new growth. Growth that comes from the seed that is Jesus when He is in our hearts! The word of God in us! When we have a relationship with Christ and our Heavenly Father through Christ, there is a tremendous growth, a balance that only comes by remaining in Him. This change, or growth not only affect us but those around us. Those who through our witness, and through our walk because of His presence in us, are able to find help, sustenance hope and life!
No, I will not give you faith He seems to be saying, even though Faith comes through Me! You will have to acquire it! Faith is the culmination of your time searching, walking with Me, trusting Me, plowing the field, harvesting! Studying the Scriptures! This is the formula to not be a stumbling block to our brother.
Notice what He says next: “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? Translation: I have asked you to make disciples, and you are to tend my sheep. This is a requirement. Faith will come and is a product of obedience. Remember Jesus refers to us as sheep and He is the shepherd?
Luke 17:8-10 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? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 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”
It seems to me Jesus is saying . Be obedient and work in the kingdom as I have taught you. While at it, your faith will increase! Don’t just squeeze by, do the extra, not to gain my grace for it is given freely. Your sins have been forgiven but your faith is the culmination of your walk with Me.
Your faith is the fruit of your labor as you please your Master. Be thirsty, be hungry to do the will of your Master and see the faith that can move the mulberry tree. Experience the faith that will help you love your brother as yourself and prevent you from ever being a stumbling block to those who come into the kingdom!