Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
2 Timothy 1:1-9
Peace be with you!
A child’s faith is something special. Children do not question if the Biblical stories are true: Jesus loves me; the Bible says tells me so. Out of curiosity they question what God looks like, how God made the world in seven days, or why God sent Jesus to die for their sins. Their imaginations fill in the blanks where we cannot find the words to explain it.
Jesus has been talking about the costs of discipleship with the crowds: make your earthly family second and God first (Luke 14:26), carry the cross (Luke 14:27), give up all of your possessions (Luke 14:33), and no going back (Luke 19:57-62). To follow Jesus, you have to forgive those who sin and seek repentance (Luke 17:3-4), even if they sin again. When you sin, someone will rebuke you; when you choose to repent, the other person is to forgive you no matter how many times you have sinned. We live in a vicious cycle: sin, be rebuked, repent, be forgiven, and repent again. To be Jesus’ disciples is to be called to make daily sacrifices. We have to make the choice daily to follow Jesus Christ because we are constantly being tempted by the Devil and we constantly have to say no to temptation. There is nothing simple or easy about being Jesus’ disciples; we constantly have to make the choice to follow.
Most days, the choice seems simple (though perhaps not easy). We make it without thinking, because we are devoted disciples who realize the consequences are only temporary and the reward is eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Children talk about what they learn in Sunday School without worrying that their belief in God might offend someone; they are overcome by the joy in knowing Jesus and feel an overwhelming need to share the good news. But as we get older, the choice to follow gets more difficult: how can I abandon my dying mom, how can I live without my cell phone, how can I share the good news with people who always reject it, how can I not worry about my mortgage payment, and [whatever “the consequence” is] that you have difficulty handling. Some days we are lost in the wilderness, overwhelmed by fears, and drowning in the darkness.
The disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). The disciples are overwhelmed by the costs of discipleship because the costs seem unbearable. They have to put their trust in a man who claims to be the Son of God and give up everything to follow him. The task Jesus sets before them seems impossible.
Jesus is at his wit’s end with his disciples’ belief that faith can be measured. Jesus responds to the disciples, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” In the Greek, the word a‡n (an untranslatable particle “an”) indicates Jesus is criticizing the disciples for their lack of faith (Carey 2010). All you need is a little faith, and Jesus will take care of the rest. Even when we struggle in the darkness, Jesus is shining the light for us to find our way to the Kingdom of God. Ordinary faith is sufficient to express our devotion to the Triune God; Jesus exploits our faith by calling us out of the darkness and into the light.
After Jesus heals someone, he says, “Your faith has healed you.” (Luke 3:48; 7:50; 17:19; 18:42). Faith cannot be measured. You cannot measure whether it changes how you perceive and respond to the world by transforming you into a child of God.
Jesus tells the disciples a parable. A slave serves his master by plowing the field or tending the sheep and then he comes in to make the evening meal (Luke 17:7-8). In Biblical times, slaves were devoted to their masters by doing whatever they were asked. The slaves were a part of the household and respected by their masters. However, Jesus points out how masters hardly ever ask their slaves to enjoy a meal with them or thank them for simply doing their job (Luke 17:8-9). Therefore, the disciples need to repent, because they do not do what they should do (Luke 17:10). All Jesus asks of them is to do ordinary acts of kindness to act out their faith.
As God’s children, we are his slaves. We are to devote ourselves to the Triune God and to spreading the good news throughout the world. Just as children live to obey their parents, we live to obey God’s commandments. Though children are born into sin, they have a certain innocence which allows them to live Jesus’ light in the world until someone or something takes it away. However, God the Father sends his only begotten son into the world to overcome the darkness with his light and to restore our innocence through his forgiveness – just as parents forgive their children. God is devoted to his children by sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins in order to restore our relationship with him.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for exploiting our faith to serve you, even when we feel trapped in the darkness. Guide us to Jesus’ light in the darkness in order to lead others to your kingdom. Comfort us as we struggle in the wilderness, as we look towards heaven. Remind us that ordinary faith is sufficient for us to serve you. Thank you for devoting your message to us. Amen.
Carey, Greg. Commentary of Luke 17:5-10. September 24, 2010. http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=680 (accessed October 4, 2013).
Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant located here.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. What is faith? How does it feel?
2. How has faith transformed you?