The Rev’d Derek Arnold
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READING Luke 17.1-6 (NIV)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
This part of scripture from Luke gospel focusses on Sin, Faith and Duty. One day the apostles said to Jesus, we need more faith; tell us how to get it. The disciples request was genuine, they wanted the faith necessary for such radical forgiveness that Jesus was talking about. But I guess that the desire for greater faith might actually be a misunderstanding of faith and what it is and that it is more about the genuineness of our faith. The amount of faith isn’t important, it is more about the right kind of faith. The story of the mustard seed and the mulberry tree suggests that faith doesn’t have to be huge to make a difference!
And could it be that Jesus is not so much concerned with the disciples’ desire for more faith so they can work and perform miracles, as he is that they serve faithfully, which is far more important. Remember the story recorded in John 13 during the Last Supper when Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist, took a basin of water, and went around the table washing the feet of his disciples? After having washed their feet he asked them, “Do you understand what I was doing? Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet… a servant is not greater than his master.”
The disciples wanted more faith, but Jesus says, “…the servant does what he is supposed to do.” And maybe the life of faith is not so much about spectacular demonstrations of faith as it is about duty and living faithfully.
Even though we all like to be appreciated, the simple fact of the matter is this: We don’t always get thanked when we do good things. We aren’t always appreciated when we do our duty. But, Jesus says, “We still do our duty because it’s the right thing to do when you live the life of faith.”
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.