What did I learn about Jesus?
- He has the power to heal—I just don’t want to forget that! (verse 14)
- He teaches often about the coming of the Kingdom—this is important!
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- People are watching us, and we better live consistent lives of humble and witness that lead people toward God and not away from Him (verses 1-3).
- God doesn’t owe us a thing, and we owe God everything (verse 10).
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
This chapter starts with two important admonitions to those who would obey the call of Jesus to be disciple-makers.
Verses 1-3 deal with the weighty responsibility of Christian example. We already know that Jesus hates hypocrites—those who put on a show for the purpose of being seen by others. But that doesn’t excuse us from understanding that the way we live will be seen by others, and that we have a responsibility to the spectators of our lives.
Jesus’ point here is that temptations and evil will be a reality in life, but “woe” to one of his followers if THEY are the means by which those temptations and evil come. When we, who are called by the Great Shepherd to be Under Shepherds—noticing, loving and caring for the wellbeing of others—when we cause those sheep who are looking to us to stumble and fall, God views that very seriously. The image Jesus uses is stark. Imagine a huge rock weighing hundreds of pounds with a hole in the middle. A rope is tied to it, the other end around your neck, and the rock is thrown off of the Narrows Bridge. You WILL follow. That is the starkness of the judgment that Jesus promises to those of his followers who cause “little ones” who are looking to their life for an example to stumble and fall (spiritually or morally.) “Little ones” here may mean children, but it is more likely to mean any person who is young in faith.
We may not want the responsibility, but we have it. If we are followers of Jesus, people are watching us and we better live consistent lives of humble and authentic witness that lead people toward God and not away from Him. I view this as particularly pointed to those who are called to leadership. But it speaks to all believers.
And then comes Jesus’ mercy. Of course, we will fail and stumble. That’s where his emphasis on mutual accountability comes in. When we do fail, it is the GOOD brother or sisters who “rebukes” someone for their behavior and calls them back to holiness. Those who respond in humility are restored… and should be restored. Repeatedly. Thank God. Those who don’t, whether in arrogance or rebellion… well, just remember the rock with the hole in it!
Then briefly, the unworthy servant appears only in Luke. The punch line of this parable is simply this: God doesn’t owe us a thing, and we owe God everything. The moment we as followers of Christ begin to feel entitled or neglected in some way, we would do well to remember this parable. When we DO do what is right in obedience to Jesus, we have ONLY done what we ought to have done. After all, he is Lord and we are his grateful servants who owe him everything.