Luke Chapter Seventeen
v.1 “THEN SAID HE UNTO THE DISCIPLES, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE BUT THAT OFFENCES WILL COME; BUT WOE unto him, THROUGH WHOM THEY COME!”
still in Perea, slowly making his way to
I Corinthians 11:18-19 “FOR FIRST OF ALL, WHEN YE COME TOGETHER IN THE CHURCH, I HEAR THAT THERE BE DIVISONS AMONG YOU; AND I PARTLY BELIEVE IT. FOR THERE MUST BE ALSO HERESIES AMONG YOU, THAT THEY WHICH ARE APPROVED MAY BE MADE MANIFEST AMONG YOU.”
v.2. “IT WERE BETTER FOR HIM THAT A MILLSTONE WERE HANGED ABOUT HIS NECK, AND HE CAST INTO THE SEA, THAN THAT HE SHOULD OFFEND ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES.”
The millstone here isn’t the kind of millstone that I usually picture. My picture of what Jesus is describing would the kind of millstone found in a water mill or a mill driven by horsepower but that is not what the original language says. The millstone here is the stone that a person would take in their hand to pound against another stone to grind grain into meal. However, this stone is heavy enough to keep someone from swimming for very long, and for someone like me who never learned to swim, to drag us down immediately.
v.3-4 “TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES: IF THY BROTHER TRESPASS AGAINST THEE, REBUKE HIM; AND IF HE REPENT, FORGIVE HIM. AND IF HE TRESPASS AGAINST THEE SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY, AND SEVEN TIMES IN A DAY TURN AGAIN TO THEE, SAYING, I REPENT; THOU SHALT FORGIVE HIM.”
If our brother trespass, or sin against us, we are to rebuke him. This follows the same principle found in the Mosaic Law:
Leviticus “THOU SHALT NOT HATE THY BROTHER IN THINE HEART: THOU SHALT IN ANY WISE REBUKE THEY NEIGHBOR AND NOT SUFFER SIN UPON HIM (BEAR SIN BECAUSE OF HIM).”
If your brother is a wise man rebuke or reproof will have the desired result:
Proverbs 17:10 “A REPROOF ENTERETH MORE INTO A WISE MAN THAN AN HUNDRED STRIPES INTO A FOOL.”
And how many times are we to forgive him? If necessary we are to forgive him seven times a day.
v.5 “AND THE APOSTLES SAID UNTO THE LORD, INCREASE OUR FAITH.”
The apostles say that they don’t think they can do this. Do we have doubts about ourselves? I’m sure that we might and perhaps we should. If our brother trespasses against us seven times a day and repents; we are to forgive him seven times a day. The Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus has frequently rebuked them because of their lack of faith. Now he gives them a lesson in what they can do if they have the proper faith.
v.6 “AND THE LORD SAID, IF YE HAD FAITH AS A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, YE MIGHT SAY UNTO THIS SYCAMINE TREE, BE THOU PLUCKED UP BY THE ROOT, AND BE THOU PLANTED IN THE SEA; AND IT SHOULD OBEY YOU.”
The sycamine tree was a tree in the Middle East about the size of our mulberry tree; this is not a sycamore tree such as we know in this country. However, it makes no difference regarding the difficulty in accomplishing what Jesus is describing. If we have faith; even as small as one of the smallest seeds in the plant world, we could move trees, or as the example in Matthew 17:20, move mountains. Now Jesus gives us a lesson in what God expects of us as his children.
v.7 “BUT WHICH OF YOU, HAVING A SERVANT PLOWING OR FEED CATTLE, WILL SAY UNTO HIM BY AND BY, WHEN HE IS COME FROM THE FIELD, TO AND SIT DOWN TO MEAT?”
Jesus is bringing us a contrast here. Even if we should have the kind of faith that it would require to do the things that Jesus describes, this should not be the focus of our being. If we forgive our brother when he trespasses against us and repents we are doing no more than what is our duty. Just like the servant that is working in the field and then when he comes into the house and is expected to perform the duties of a servant there as well.
v.8 “AND WILL NOT RATHER SAY UNTO HIM, MAKE READY WHEREWITH I MAY SUP, AND GIRD THY SELF, AND SERVE ME, TILL I HAVE EATEN AND DRUNKEN; AND AFTERWARD THOU SHALT EAT AND DRINK.”
Just as it is the duty and expected of the servant to serve his master both in the fields, the sheepfold and in the household, it is our duty and purpose to forgive our brothers. Our patience and obedience to this requirement should be the same as that of a patience and hardworking servant to his master. It’s required. We are to obey promptly and cheerfully every commandment of our Lord and Master.
v.9 “DOTH HE THANK THAT SERVANT BECAUSE HE DID THE THINGS THAT WERE COMMANDED HIM? I TROW NOT.”
Should special thanks be extended to that servant that is faithful to his Lords’ commandments? Jesus says, I don’t think so; this is what he is supposed to do. We have folks in the church that don’t understand this don’t we? Are there not those who wish to be noticed, those that wish to be thanked, those that wish to be commended just because they’ve done something that they should have done without any encouragement or prompting. And don’t some get “put out” if they don’t get this kind of recognition?
v.10 “SO LIKEWISE YE, WHEN YE SHALL HAVE DONE ALL THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE COMMANDED YOU, SAY, WE ARE UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS: WE HAVE DONE THAT WHICH WAS OUR DUTY TO DO.”
Jesus makes application now of what he has taught. As his servants, his apostles are to serve him faithfully, as we must as well. It doesn’t matter what that service is, it doesn’t matter if men recognize us for that service or not. When we are done; we should still count ourselves as unprofitable servants because we have done no more than what was expected of us.
v.11 “AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HE WENT TO JERUSALEM, THAT HE PASSED THROUGH THE MIDST OF SAMARIA AND GALLIEE.”
Many think that the route that Jesus took from Perea to Jerusalem was a rather round about way that would bring him from Ephraim in the north, to join the people traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Passover. He may even have been traveling a route such as this to escape the attention of the Pharisees and those who sought his life until the time that God’s plan called for his crucifixion should come.
John 11:54 “JESUS THEREFORE WALKED NO MORE OPENLY AMONG THE JEWS; BUT WENT THENCE UNTO A COUNTRY NEAR TO THE WILDERNESS, INTO A CITY CALLED EPHRAIM, AND THERE CONTINUED WITH HIS DISCIPLES.”
v.12-13 “AND AS HE ENTERED INTO A CERTAIN VILLAGE, THERE MET HIM TEN MEN THAT WERE LEPERS, WHICH STOOD AFAR OFF; AND THEY LIFTED UP their VOICES, AND SAID, JESUS, MASTER, HAVE MERCY ON US.”
We are not told what village this might be, but Luke records that it was a certain village a specific place that Jesus visited. Men came to meet him that were lepers, and they stood, the scriptures says “AFAR OFF”, why? Because in the Mosaic Law:
Leviticus 13:46 “ALL THE DAYS WHEREIN THE PLAGUE (leprosy) shall be IN HIM HE SHALL BE DEFILED; HE is UNCLEAN: HE SHALL DWELL ALONE; WITHOUT THE CAMP shall HIS HABITATION be.”
These men wanted Jesus to heal them as he had healed others. They cried after him, “MASTER, HAVE MERCY ON US.”
v.14 “AND WHEN HE SAW them, HE SAID UNTO THEM, GO SHEW YOURSELVES UNTO THE PRIESTS, AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT, AS THEY WENT, THEY WERE CLEANSED.”
Now that’s strange isn’t it? Why didn’t Jesus do like one of our television fake healers today and put his hands on these men and make a production out of healing them? Because that is not the way of God; he simply tells them to go see the priest, why? Because when one was cleansed of leprosy under the Mosaic Law that is what he was to do:
Leviticus 14:1-2 “AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING, THIS SHALL BE THE LAW OF THE LEPER IN THE DAY OF HIS CLEANSING: HE SHALL BE BROUGHT UNTO THE PRIEST:”
God’s instruction goes further to tell Moses that the priest is to verify that the leper is indeed healed, he’s cleansed of this contagious condition and can now be returned to his place in society. In addition sacrifices of thanksgiving were to be made. Jesus simply tells these men “GO SHEW YOURSELVES UNTO THE PRIESTS” because if they do go, by the time they get there their leprosy will have disappeared.
v.15-16 “AND ONE OF THEM, WHEN HE SAW THAT HE WAS HEALED, TURNED BACK, AND WITH A LOUD VOICE GLORIFIED GOD, AND FELL DOWN ON his FACE AT HIS FEET GIVING HIM THANKS: AND HE WAS A SAMARITAN.”
How far these men went before they saw that they were healed we are not told but it was far enough that they proved their faith. One, only one, out of ten returned to Jesus to thank him, to glorify God because he had been healed. What makes this even more significant is that the Jews and the Samaritans had nothing to do with each other. The Jew hated the Samaritans and there probably wasn’t any love lost on the other side either; but this man came back and “FELL DOWN ON his FACE” worshipping Jesus.
v.17. “AND JESUS ANSWERING SAID, WERE THERE NOT TEN CLEANSED? BUT WHERE ARE the NINE?”
Do ten percent of those who receive God’s blessing today ever show any gratitude? One writer describes the failure of the nine to return as pathetic. All of them were seeking God’s blessing, all cried for God’s mercy and their healing but when they were healed only one was thankful. Far, far too many people, even among those who claim to be Christians, fit this same mold today.
v.18-19 “THERE ARE NOT FOUND THAT RETURNED TO GIVE GLORY TO GOD, SAVE THIS STRANGER. AND HE SAID UNTO HIM, ARISE, GO THY WAS: THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE.”
The implication in Jesus words is that all of the other lepers were Jews and only this Samaritan, this stranger to God returned to give thanks. Brother Boles in his commentary says that perhaps this stranger wasn’t even allowed to approach the priest with his cleansing because he wasn’t a Jew. This is quite possibly true. Still the example we are given of his humility, his gratefulness, his faith in Jesus is an example that we would do well to follow today.
v.20-21 “AND WHEN HE WAS DEMANDED OF THE PHARISEES, WHEN THE KINGDOM OF GOD SHOULD COME, HE ANSWERED THEM AND SAID, THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMETH NOT WITH OBSERVATION: NEITHER SHALL THEY SAY, LO HERE! OR, LO THERE! FOR, BEHOLD, THE KINDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU.”
John the Baptizer preached that the “kingdom of God” was at hand. Jesus taught and preached that the “kingdom of God” was at hand. These men were very concerned about that, they didn’t approve of Jesus and feared that he would be their king, why? Because they were looking for a physical kingdom, a kingdom on earth that would restore the honor and power of David and Solomon. There are denominations today and some of our wayward brethren that are looking for the same thing whereby Jesus will return to earth and rule from Jerusalem for 1000 years. But what does Jesus say?
John 18:36 “…MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD: IF MY KINGDOM WERE OF THIS WORLD, THEN WOULD MY SERVANTS FIGHT, THAT I SHOULD NOT BE DELIVERED TO THE JEWS: BUT NOW IS MY KINGDOM NOT FROM HENCE.”
The Kingdom of God is not a physical government, administered here on earth by men but a spiritual kingdom; ruled by the Son of God in heaven. Our laws, regulations and requirements to gain and maintain our citizenship in that kingdom may be found in God’s revelation, the Bible. We cannot point to it and say here it is or there it is because it transcends both place and time. We are citizens of it in the here and now, but those who met its citizenship requirements 200 years, 500 years to 2000 years ago are also its citizens and will be for all eternity. We represent it as individual citizens, we gather as groups of citizens but other than that it is invisible to the physical eye of man.
v.22 “AND HE SAID UNTO HIS DISCIPLES, THE DAYS WILL COME, WHEN YE SHALL DESIRE TO SEE ONE OF THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN, AND YE SHALL NOT SEE it.”
The days would come when the greatest desire that his apostles could have would be to see the kingdom of God. Whether this would be brought about by persecution, or for some other reason we’re not told. There came the day when Paul would rather have been with Christ that on this earth struggling with the work of his Apostleship:
Philippians 1:23-24 “FOR I AM IN A STRAIT BETWIXT TWO, HAVE A DESIRE TO DEPART, AND TO BE WITH CHRIST; WHICH IS FAR BETTER: NEVERTHELESS TO ABIDE IN THE FLESH is MORE NEEDFUL FOR YOU.”
And there may be days in our lives where it would be our greatest pleasure to leave this world of trial, trouble and sin and hasten our journey to the presence of God.
v.23-24 “AND THEY SHALL SAY TO YOU, SEE HERE; OR, SEE THERE: GO NOT AFTER them, NOR FOLLOW them. FOR AS THE LIGHTNING, THAT LIGHTENETH OUT OF THE ONE part UNDER HEAVEN, SHINETH UNTO THE OTHER part UNDER HEAVEN; SO SHALL ALSO THE SON OF MAN BE IN HIS DAY.”
The day will come when men will say here is God’s kingdom, or there is God’s kingdom, pointing to a physical representation on earth and Jesus says don’t follow them, don’t believe them. Just as the lightning is from the heavens, the coming of the Messiah to reclaim his kingdom will not be found in a certain place on earth but would come from on high just as Jesus had taught them.
Matthew 24:30 “AND THEN SHALL APPEAR THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN IN HEAVEN: AND THEN SHALL ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH MOURN, AND THEY SHALL SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY”
v.25 “BUT FIRST MUST HE SUFFER MANY THINGS, AND BE REJECTED OF THIS GENERATION.”
Jesus here is teaching his apostles of the coming persecution, suffering, death and ascension back to heaven. He would be rejected by “this generation” and consequently shed his blood to complete God’s 4000 year plan for mankind’s redemption from sin.
v.26-27 “AND AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOE, SO SHALL IT BE ALSO IN THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN. THEY DID EAT AND DRINK, THEY MARRIED WIVES, THEY WERE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE, UNTIL THE DAY THAT NOE ENTERED INTO THE ARK, AND THE FLOOD CAME, AND DESTROYED THEM ALL.”
Luke’s record parallels that found in Matthew 24:37ff. Commentators have debated about whether it points to the establishment of his kingdom and the destruction of Jerusalem or the gathering in of his kingdom and the end of the world. It probably doesn’t matter, because which ever it is used to depict the same conditions exist or existed. When Noah preached righteousness, only a few paid heed and all of the other people in the world were destroyed in the flood. When John and Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom of God and warned of the destruction of Jerusalem few paid heed and many were lost. Today as we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and His second coming to gather in his kingdom and destroy the world, few heed and multiplied billions will be lost.
v.28-29 “LIKEWISE ALSO AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF LOT; THEY DID EAT, THEY DRANK, THEY BOUGHT, THEY SOLD, THEY PLANTED, THEY BUILDED; BUT THE SAME DAY THAT LOT WENT OUT OF SODOM IT RAINED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE FROM HEAVEN AND DESTROYED them ALL.”
Jesus says that it was the same way during the days of Lot. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were exceedingly sinful; we might even note that one of the sins that was most prominent was that of homosexuality. God was so disgusted with them that he destroyed them but spared the nephew of Abraham, Lot. They were carrying out their daily business, totally unconcerned about God or anything related to God. He caused Lot to be removed and:
“THEN THE LORD RAINED UPON SODOM AND UPON GOMORRAH BRIMSTONE AND FIRE FROM THE LORD OF HEAVEN.” Genesis 19:24
v.30. “EVEN THUS SHALL IT BE IN THE DAY WHEN THE SON OF MAN IS REVEALED.”
Here again we have the record in debate regarding whether Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem or His second coming. And when we studied the parallel in Mark we noted that the record seems to change back and forth between these two subjects. However, here it strongly appears that Jesus is talking about his second coming. Paul describes it this way:
I Thessalonians 4:16 “FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN WITH A SHOUT,WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, AND WITH THE TRUMP OF GOD: AND DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST.”
v.31 “IN THAT DAY, HE WHICH SHALL BE UPON THE HOUSETOP, AND HIS STUFF IN THE HOUSE, LET HIM NOT COME DOWN TO TAKE IT AWAY: AND HE THAT IS IN THE FIELD, LET HIM LIKEWISE NOT RETURN BACK.”
The one that is caught outside the house or in the field is not to return to get or find anything. There will be no need; all of those things will be destroyed with the world. We will be beyond worrying about anything of that nature; then Jesus gives us and them a warning:
v.32 “REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE.”
Lot’s wife was concerned about her home. She was looking backward to the city of sin rather than forward to the life that was to come. As a result she lost everything:
Genesis 19:26 “BUT HIS WIFE LOOKED BACK FROM BEHIND HIM, AND SHE BECAME A PILLAR OF SALT.”
v.33 “WHOSOEVER SHALL SEEK TO SAVE HIS LIFE SHALL LOSE IT; AND WHOSOEVER SHALL LOSE HIS LIFE SHALL PRESERVE IT.”
When we make a spiritual application of what Jesus is saying, we understand his meaning. When we neglect or refuse to do God’s will to save our lives, or save our livelihood, we will lose our spiritual life. When we put our spiritual well being and serving God ahead of our physical life and our material possessions then we will save our spiritual lives.
v.34-35 “I TELL YOU, IN THAT NIGHT THERE SHALL BE TWO men IN ONE BED; THE ONE SHALL BE TAKEN, AND THE OTHER SHALL BE LEFT. TWO women SHALL BE GRINDING TOGETHER; THE ONE SHALL BE TAKEN, AND THE OTHER LEFT.”
In that night, on that day, when Jesus comes again, there will be situations were one man will be taken and another left. There may be two women sitting together, he uses the chore of grinding meal for their bread, perhaps sitting side by side and visiting while they work, one will be taken and the other left to destruction. Again we go to the words of Paul:
I Thessalonians 4:17 “THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE and REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS, TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR: AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD.”
v.36 “TWO men SHALL BE IN THE FIELD; THE ONE SHALL BE TAKEN, AND THE OTHER LEFT.”
Some translations omit this verse as many of the old manuscripts do not include it. One of the most accurate does exclude it; the American Standard Version – 1901.
v.37 “AND THEY ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO HIM, WHERE, LORD? AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, WHERESOEVER THE BODY is, THITHER WILL THE EAGLES BE GATHERED TOGETHER.”
Jesus disciples are asking: where is this going to take place? They didn’t understand the spiritual significance of Jesus teaching. They didn’t understand, yet, the nature of his kingdom or that he would return to God, consequently they could not grasp the concept of his second coming. Jesus tells them that wherever the carcass is; there would be eagles or birds of prey to devour it. Wherever the sins of mankind cry out for God’s retribution, for God’s punishment, there would be the purpose for God to bring about the destruction of those involved, whether it be Jerusalem because it’s purpose was completed and it had rejected his son or the world at the end of time when he decides that mankind no longer deserves the opportunity to hear his word and save themselves from eternal destruction.