Submitted by Jan on Tue, 01/10/2013 – 10:42
Year C (2012-2013)
Bible Book: Luke / Lukas
Chapter: 17
Verse: 5 – 10

In order to understand and get more insight into this passage I think we also need to look at the context in which it was spoken and the verses that proceed it.

In Luke 17:1-4 Jesus is teaching about forgiveness, he speaks “woe” to those through whom offenses come, then he tells the disciples that if someone wrongs them they need to forgive them, even if they do it again, and again and again and again and again and again and again. And the word is strong “you SHALL forgive”.

Not:
you might want to forgive
you can if you feel like it
it would be very kind of you to forgive And no escape clauses, this covered all wrongs.
The disciples then turn to Jesus, maybe in exasperation at the difficulty of doing this and tell him that he has to increase their faith. It seems to be a demand. No please, thank-you’s, or if you will.

Are they saying “OK, Jesus, so be it, but we can’t do this until you give us more faith to do it. Your problem, not ours”?

No, says Jesus, you only need very little faith to do great things, but you do need obedience. Jesus did not grant them more faith. He did not answer their “prayer”.

Verses 7-10 are all about obeying the master. They are not even about going the extra mile, they are just about doing what is expected of us. Applying the faith we already have.

What is faith? Is it doing amazing miracles, an exhibition of power? In the following verses Jesus exhibits power when he heals 10 lepers. But he also exhibits mercy in that healing.

The “faith as a mustard seed” that Jesus speaks of in this passage is faith that is exhibited in mercy (in this case in forgiving someone who wrongs us).

It seems that faith is exercised by the unworthy, in the context of mercy and grace. It is in recognizing our own need of forgiveness that we have the faith to forgive others.

To think about: Let us look to our own lives and circumstances. Are there people we need to forgive, are we waiting for God to grant us extra grace (faith) to forgive, or do we think these people are exceptions? Maybe we are living with HIV and experience stigma, maybe we see friends experience stigma and hurt on their behalf. “Second hand” offences (those done to others close to us) need forgiveness too. Maybe it is someone else’s fault that we are living with HIV. Forgiveness can be hard, but it is not an optional extra. Much like truth, forgiveness sets us free.

Written by: Rosemary Hack, Director AIDSLink International, Churches, Channel of Hope Facilitator

Author: Hack R (Ms)
Language: English

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