Luke 17:1-10: How the Gospel Shapes our Service of Others
The differences between true religion and false religion are striking. False religion is judgemental, true religion is accepting; false religion is strident and forceful, true religion is gentle and yielding; false religion is critical and harsh; true religion is gracious and encouraging; loveless vs loving; external holiness vs internal holiness; hypocritical vs genuine; we all know the difference between true and false religion. False religion is repulsive but true religion is attractive. Our hearts are by nature religious; that means we are vulnerable to the deceptions and promises of false religion and hungry for true religion. Jesus throughout the gospels is showing how the religion of first century Judaism though it claims to be based on the Word of God and is full of external religiosity is a sham, is hypocritical, is hateful to God, and damning to those who teach and practice it. Jesus has come with the truth, to teach us the truth about God, the true interpretation of God’s word, to show us the true way to serve God, and the true way of salvation. He contrasts the gospel of God’s grace with the manmade legalism of the day. The gospel accounts are full of examples of Jesus putting forward true religion and exposing false religion. The portion that lies before us in Luke 17:1-10 is Jesus stating positively some of the principles of discipleship that stand in stark contrast to the false religion of the day.
You will notice in v1 that Jesus is addressing the disciples, that means that the teaching here is directed at them. Jesus covers three areas of discipleship demonstrating how the gospel of grace shapes the way we do religion in contrast the way that religion was wrongly being done at the time. These three areas will be our three points as we move forward. You will see in v1-3a that Jesus talks about how the gospel stops us from being a stumbling block and offending others; in v3b-6 how the gospel makes us those who seeks to restore our brother from sin and forgive them, the disciples see the difficulty of this calling and ask for faith to be able to do it. And then in v7-10 in contrast to the exhibitionist religion of the day that felt very proud about their diligence in service the gospel teaches us a humility in our serving. Our three points are offending others, forgiving others, serving others.