The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Pastor George Pejakovich
Luke 17:5-10

 


JESUS IS ON HIS WAY TO JERUSALEM, PREACHING, TEACHING, AND HEALING AS HE GOES ALONG. HE HAS JUST WARNED HIS DISCIPLES ABOUT BECOMING A STUMBLING BLOCK TO OTHERS, AND TELLING THEM TO FORGIVE OTHERS OVER AND OVER, EVEN SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN. AS THEY CONSIDER HOW DIFFICULT THIS KIND OF LIFE MIGHT BE, THEY ASK JESUS TO INCREASE THEIR FAITH. THE SYNTAX OF THE GREEK TEXT IS CLEAR ABOUT HOW JESUS IS IRRITATED BY THIS REQUEST. WE CAN SENSE SOME OF HIS IRRITATION IN THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION, AS HE USES OVER THE TOP SARCASM TO CHASTISE HIS DISCIPLES. “IF YOU HAD FAITH THE SIZE OF A MUSTARD SEED, YOU COULD SAY TO THIS MULBERRY TREE, ‘BE UPROOTED AND BE PLANTED IN THE SEA,’ AND IT WOULD OBEY YOU.” THE DISCIPLES ARE THINKING OF FAITH AS QUANTITATIVE, IN THE SENSE THAT WHILE FAITH IS GOOD, MORE FAITH WOULD BE BETTER, AND WITH MORE FAITH ONE COULD DO GREATER THINGS. THEY WANTED TO SUPER-SIZE THEIR FAITH.

WHEN WE USE THE WORD FAITH, WE OFTEN GET IT CONFUSED WITH BELIEF, BUT FAITH IS NOT AN INTELLECTUAL ASSENT TO A SERIES OF PRECEPTS OR CONCEPTS, AS CREDIBLE OR INCREDIBLE AS THEY MAY BE. FAITH, PISTOS IN THE GREEK, IS TRUST; SIMPLY THAT. YOU EITHER HAVE TRUST IN GOD IN JESUS, OR YOU DO NOT. THIS IS WHY JESUS SHOWED HIS IRRITATION WITH HIS DISCIPLES; THEY HAD BEEN WITH HIM, OBSERVED HIM, WALKED WITH HIM, LISTENED TO HIM, AND YET STILL THOUGHT THEY NEEDED MORE TRUST IN HIM. TRUST IN JESUS IS THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, AND WHAT HIS DISCIPLES WERE SAYING WAS ESSENTIALLY THAT THE GIFT OF GOD WAS NOT ENOUGH.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TRUST IN JESUS? A VERY GREAT MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT JESUS WAS BORN, LIVED, TAUGHT, AND DIED ON A CROSS. MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE EVEN THAT HE WAS THE SON OF GOD; ALTHOUGH IT IS INCREASINGLY PROPOSED THAT HE WAS A SON OF GOD. WHATEVER ONE BELIEVES ABOUT JESUS MAY BE THE BASIS OF HOW ONE CONSIDERS WHO HE WAS AND WHAT THAT MEANS, YET TRUSTING IN JESUS IS SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY. IT MEANS GIVING YOUR WILL OVER TO HIS WILL, GIVING YOUR LIFE OVER TO HIS LIFE, ENTRUSTING YOUR WHOLE BEING TO HIM. THIS IS WHAT IS KNOWN AS A BINARY SET; A YES OR A NO. THERE IS NO MAYBE, NO SORT OF, NO A LITTLE BIT.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT TRUSTING IN JESUS WILL SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEMS AND TROUBLES OF THIS LIFE, AS MANY OF THE PREACHERS OF THE GOSPEL OF SUCCESS PROCLAIM. BAD THINGS MAY STILL HAPPEN TO US, ACCIDENTS AND ILLNESS MAY STRIKE US, AND THE LOSS OF LOVED ONES IS A PART OF OUR EARTHY EXISTENCE. OUR TRUST IN JESUS, THIS GREAT GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, IS WHAT ENABLES US TO FACE ALL THE TRIALS AND STRUGGLES OF THIS LIFE, KNOWING THAT OUR LORD AND SAVIOR IS WITH US EVERY STEP OF OUR WAY. THIS IS WHAT PAUL, IN PRISON IN ROME, MEANS AS HE WRITES TO TIMOTHY WHEN HE SAYS THAT CHRIST “ABOLISHED DEATH, AND BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT THROUGH THE GOSPEL . . . AND FOR THIS REASON I SUFFER AS I DO. BUT I AM NOT ASHAMED, FOR I KNOW THE ONE IN WHOM I HAVE PUT MY TRUST, AND I AM SURE HE IS ABLE TO GUARD UNTIL THAT DAY WHAT I HAVE ENTRUSTED TO HIM.”

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LITTLE FAITH OR A GREAT FAITH, THERE IS ONLY TRUST IN JESUS AND PLACING OUR LIVES AND OUR SPIRITS IN HIM AND IN HIS WILL. TO PUT IT IN TERMS THAT ARE REALLY POLITICALLY INCORRECT TODAY, WE ARE TO BECOME THE SLAVES OF OUR LORD JESUS. THIS IS THE POINT OF JESUS’ LITTLE PARABLE ABOUT THE MASTER AND HIS SLAVES. AFTER HE CHASTISES HIS DISCIPLES FOR THEIR ASKING FOR MORE FAITH, HE DRIVES HOME HIS CRITICISM BY TELLING THEM THAT THEY ARE TO BECOME THE SLAVES OF THE LORD, TO DO WHAT THEIR MASTER DEMANDS OF THEM. TO DO WHAT IS COMMANDED, AND CERTAINLY NOT TO EXPECT ANY THANKS AND BENEFITS FROM DOING WHAT WAS THEIR DUTY.

HOW MUCH FAITH DO WE NEED TO DO OUR DUTY; HOW MUCH TRUST DO WE NEED TO DO WHAT WE ARE COMMANDED? WE NEED SIMPLY TO TRUST IN THE LORD JESUS AND DO WHAT HE COMMANDS US TO DO. TRUST IN HIM, AND VISIT THE SICK. TRUST IN HIM AND FEED THE HUNGRY. TRUST IN HIM AND VISIT THOSE IN PRISON. TRUST IN HIM AND CLOTHE THE NAKED, SHELTER THE HOMELESS, PROVIDE FOR THOSE IN NEED. TRUST IN HIM AND FORGIVE THOSE WHO HURT OR INSULT US. TRUST IN HIM AND PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL TO ALL WHO WILL LISTEN. THIS IS OUR DUTY AS THE SLAVES OF THE LORD, AND, AT THE END, WE CAN ONLY SAY WE HAVE JUST DONE WHAT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE DONE.

THAT IS THE LIFE OF TRUSTING IN JESUS; TRUSTING IN HIM IN THIS LIFE AND IN THE NEXT. WHEN WE FINALLY STAND BEFORE HIM AT THE THRONE OF GOD, WE CAN SAY THAT WE HAVE JUST DONE WHAT HE HAS COMMANDED, AND THEN, HE WILL SAY, “GOOD AND TRUSTWORTHY SERVANT, ENTER INTO THE JOY OF YOUR MASTER.” AMEN