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Luke 17:1-19

It Takes Faith

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • September 30, 2012

There’s a theme that runs through all of these verses and that’s faith. It takes faith to forgive your brother seven times in a day. In fact, after Jesus taught them that they must forgive seven times in a day, the apostles responded to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” They recognized right away that it would take great faith to forgive seven times a day. Jesus then responded with what could be accomplished with even small faith, the faith like a mustard seed. But at the end of these verses when Jesus heals ten lepers but only one of them is thankful, again Jesus shows us that it is part of faith. It really is amazing to see how important faith is in becoming a mature and effective disciple of Jesus Christ.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

It Takes Faith

Luke 17:1-19 

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and as He is traveling along the way He is teaching His disciples and all that He teaches them, He also is teaching to us.

In the first 19 verses of this chapter, Jesus teaches His disciples on the practical living out of their faith in everyday life. He teaches them about the importance of forgiveness telling them that even if your brother sins against you seven times a day and returns to you seven times saying, “I repent,” forgive him.

He gives them a parable so they would see that we can’t make God indebted to us, but everything we do is a response to all that He has done for us.

Finally, Jesus teaches them about how important it is to have a heart that’s thankful.

But there’s a theme that runs through all of these verses and that’s faith. It takes faith to forgive your brother seven times in a day. In fact, after Jesus taught them that they must forgive seven times in a day, the apostles responded to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” They recognized right away that it would take great faith to forgive seven times a day.

Jesus then responded with what could be accomplished with even small faith, the faith like a mustard seed.

But at the end of these verses when Jesus heals ten lepers but only one of them is thankful, again Jesus shows us that it is part of faith.

It really is amazing to see how important faith is in becoming a mature and effective disciple of Jesus Christ.

I. By Faith - Forgive

  • Chapter 17 begins with Jesus teaching His disciples about the importance of a little child in the eyes of God.
  • At first it might seem out of place until we realize that it’s actually a continuation of what Jesus said in answer to the question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
  • “Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.”
  • Jesus was teaching them that the key to greatness in the kingdom of heaven is found in having a heart that serves others and has the humility to recognize others as more important than himself.
  • But humility is part of becoming a mature disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • A person who is growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ will have humility because of his faith in God, and that same faith and humility must also be applied in forgiveness of those who offend us.

A. Relationships matter to God

  • God wants us to be like Him and relationships are important to God. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that those who believe would not perish, but have life.”
  • The heart of God is seen in reconciliation of relationships, that’s why God wants us to forgive, even seven times in one day. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 God is reconciling the world to Himself

  • Now if somebody had to come to you seven times in one day to ask your forgiveness, you might wonder if there was true repentance.
  • But rather than have us judge their repentance, God calls us to forgive.

Illus – Too many times I’ve heard people say, “That apology wasn’t sincere enough; you’ll have to do more to convince me you mean it.”

  • Is true repentance turning from something so perfectly that you never struggle with it again?
  • Spiritual victory has more to do with growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ and becoming more mature through our relationship to Him and having God’s Word written on our heart.

Illus – In Africa it’s common for pastors to pray over someone to exorcise the spirit of lust, but victory comes from growing in Christ and becoming mature.

Illus – When our youngest son was adopted he came with many emotional problems. After an outburst he would feel very badly and apologize over and over, but would he do it again? Until he matured; he would.

  • That part of our maturity in Christ, part of our growing faith is to forgive.
  • It’s clear from what Jesus teaches here is that when someone repents, we must forgive.
  • But do we forgive even if they don’t repent? One of the best examples of this very thing is Jesus Himself when He was hanging on the cross…

Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

  • When you forgive someone in your heart, you are letting go of the pain and the bitterness of the offense. There are so many scriptures that tell us that we must not allow the root of bitterness to take hold in our lives.
  • But faith comes in when we forgive because of our relationship to God and when we trust that God can use even offenses for His glory.

Genesis 50:20-21, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones. So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

B. “Lord, increase our faith!”

  • The response of the disciples to Jesus’s teaching on forgiveness is, “Lord, increase our faith!” To which we would all say, “Yeah, Lord, and amen!”
  • Here we see a key that unlocks a great truth. Transformation and change happens in our lives not because we have learned to rely on ourselves or have learned great self-improvement techniques; faith is not optimism and faith is not the power of positive thinking.

  • The faith that Jesus speaks about is also more than just believing that God exists. Even the demons believe that much, but it does them no good.

James 2:19, You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

  • The faith that Jesus speaks of here can be summarized in the declaration, “I know my God is able.”
  • God is able to transform me so that I can forgive not just seven times, but seven times seven. God is able to move mountains; God is able to move the heart of a king like the course of the river. God is able to move the course of history according to His will, and my God is able to accomplish what concerns me today.
  • The key is in understanding that it’s personal; it’s based upon a personal relationship to Jesus Christ that trusts Him to do far more exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ask or even think.

Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Ephesians 3:20, Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.

  • In the next verses Jesus talks about the servant doing what he has been asked to do and therefore doesn't receive special commendation because of it
  • The point is that we cannot put God at a place of being indebted to us, but rather anything we do is our response to everything He has done for us.
  • In other words, we forgive, not so that God will owe us something, but rather, we forgive because He has forgiven us.

Ephesians 4:32, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

II. By Faith – Be Thankful

  • While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He entered a certain village and 10 leprous men who stood at a distance met Him and asked for mercy.
  • Jesus called out and said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
  • There’s a lot going on in these few verses that is important for us to see.
  • There was a provision in the book of Leviticus for what to do if a leper was healed of his leprosy. The problem was that no one had ever done it. There had never been a leper who came to the priest because he was healed.
  • Now, there would be 10 lepers coming to the priests at one time! This was a testimony to Israel that the Messiah had come at the appointed time. As it turns out, it would be a testimony against them.
  • Leprosy is also a picture of sin and this story is a picture of our being healed as well.

A. A thankful heart is a right heart

  • When only one came back to give thanks, Jesus said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine – where are they?”
  • A thankful heart is the right response to all that God has done for us. It’s an important part of our faith, it’s an important part of having a right heart.
  • God even made a provision so that Israel could regularly give thanks; it was called a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Psalm 50:14, 23 Sacrifice thank offerings to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High… He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me.

  • The thank offering was to be brought before the Lord but then eaten by the one who was offering it so that nothing remained. He was the picture of being fully satisfied.

Illus – in many cultures eating everything on your plate demonstrates that you are completely satisfied. Thanksgiving meal for us today is about being fully satisfied, no counting calories, just enjoying, eating to the full and having fellowship.

  • If you lack in giving thanks, then you lack in being satisfied. It is only in being thankful that our souls are full.

Hebrews 13:15, Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

B. Thanksgiving is a sacrifice

  • Thanksgiving is a sacrifice because our flesh doesn’t want to be thankful.
  • In our flesh we want to feel sorry for ourselves, we want to be cynical, and grumpy, and caustic, and say every rude thing we feel. If our flesh doesn’t feel good, we want everyone to know it.
  • But if you want to have a full and blessed life, than you need to have a grateful and thankful heart.
  • If we only see the imperfections in ourselves and in others and focus on imperfections then we will have little to be thankful for.
  • But when you learn to turn things over to the Lord, with a heart of thanksgiving, then the soul becomes satisfied and peace rules in your heart.

Philippians 4:4,6-7, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! …Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 92:1-2, It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night,

  • Being thankful is really the key to being content. And it’s tied to faith. Paul knew the secret, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Luke 17:1-19   NASB

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."
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