Sunday, March 3, 2013

Luke 17 - Forgiveness, Faith, and Losing Our Lives


http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm
LINK: Luke 17

BACKGROUND

164. Jesus tells about forgiveness and faith: Luke 17:1-10

We are not to sin against other believers or tempt them to sin (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthian 10:32; 1 John 2:10).  The "little ones" Jesus is referring to are young believers (Matthew 18:1-6; Mark 10:24; Luke 10:21). 

This passage also talks about a private, loving rebuke to a brother who sins in the spirit of forgiveness and humility (see also Matthew 18:15-20 and Event #119 for more on this). Rebuking is not meant to alienate but to restore. 

They were to counteract sin by forgiving over and over again. This would require faith on the disciples part, and Jesus said they only needed true faith that depends on God to give true forgiveness. 

169. Jesus heals ten men with leprosy: Luke 17:11-19

Jesus has just been at Ephraim (#21 on the map). Now, He is headed back to Jerusalem between Samaria and Galilee. 

The story of the ten lepers has two important lessons for us. First, the lepers had enough faith to believe that Jesus would heal them before they got to the priests to be ceremonially cleansed. They walked by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

The second lesson we learn in this story is to remember to be thankful for all Jesus does for us! To add an exclamation point to this story, the one leper was a despised Samaritan (talk about being doubly despised). The Samaritan understood that Jesus was the Messiah, but the Jews did not. 

170. Jesus teaches about the coming of the Kingdom of God: Luke 17:20-37

"The kingdom of God is in your midst" (Luke 17:21). "In your midst" is a better translation of the original Greek word than the NIV's translation of "within you." Jesus was saying that the Kingdom of God was staring them right in the face because He was right there in front of them as the King of the kingdom. The expression can even read "within your possession or within your reach" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary). Yet, many could not see that He was the Messiah King!

Privately, he told his disciples more about the Kingdom. He said it would be obvious when it came (Matthew 24:27,30), but He must suffer before it would be able to fully come.

The more important question is not when it would come, but will you be ready when it does? The people during the times of Noah and Lot were too busy living in sin, ignorant of God, and attached to material things to see that judgement was near. 

Jesus wanted His followers to be ready for the coming of the Kingdom. They could do this by not saving their lives. They were saving it by being attached to the world. They could lose it by freeing their lives from the world's fetters (and treasures) so they can be attached to God when Jesus returns in judgment (Revelation 19:11-20:6). 

Many commentators believe that the people "taken" in Luke 17:34-36 are those taken in judgment (Matthew 24:36-41). The one's "left" are those who will enter the Kingdom.  If you take this view, Jesus is saying in Luke 17:37  that the "eagles/vultures gather at a corpse, so the lost will be gathered for judgment" (The Bible Exposition Commentary).  A minority of commentators believe it is the other way around. Regardless of which way it is, whether left or taken away to God's Kingdom, we need to be prepared! 

Most of all we need to live in God's Kingdom right here and now by submitting the the rule and reign of our true King! It is both the Kingdom that is now and not yet. 


REFLECTION

Today, there was a conflict coaching seminar at our church, and I was asked to do a little testimony about forgiveness. I ended up not being able to do it because I had a dear friend drop in from out of town, but isn't it appropriate that this passage would be about forgiveness? 

The story I was going to tell was about a time when I had tension with another ministry leader. I didn't know what I had done to provoke her, but she wasn't very nice to me, and I responded sinfully to her. I could have been like a little child and said, "Well, she started it!", take my marbles and go home, but I had been reading The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. So, I wanted to make peace with her "as far as it depended on me" (Romans 12:18), not expecting her to give any kind of apology in return. 


So, I asked for her forgiveness for the way I had responded to her, and she gladly forgave. Then she said, "This isn't all about you." So we went for a walk, and she poured her heart in confession to me about her sin toward me! I wasn't expecting that. How could I not forgive her in return! 


The angels in heaven were rejoicing that day, and they continue to rejoice as we enjoy a very good relationship to this day!


Today, I listen to the news, and my heart is saddened because of the lack of forgiveness by the Afghan people over the accidental burning of their holy book. I agree that this was wrong to burn their book, but there has been an apology issued by the offending party, but there is such vengeance and lack of forgiveness.  We really need to pray.


I have many things that I could be bitter about. I was abused as a child, but I have forgiven my abusers.  If I had not forgiven, I would be the one who would have suffered most. Nelson Mandala said, "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill your enemy." Resent only hurts us. We need to throw out the poison!


APPLICATION 


This is from the Peacemaker Ministries website: www.peacemaker.net

Memorize:


The Seven A's of Confession


Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13


ADDRESS everyone involved

AVOID if, but, and maybe
ADMIT specifically
ACKNOWLEDGE the hurt
ACCEPT the consequences
ALTER your behavior
ASK for forgiveness

The Four Promises of Forgiveness


Matthew 6:12; 1 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 4:32


I will not dwell on this incident.

I will not bring this incident up and use it against you.
I will not talk to others about this incident.
I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship. 

HERE is the link to a PDF brochure with the peacemaking principles.


There are several memoirs that deal specifically with the issue of forgiveness. All these stories are about people who really had every reason to be resentful, but they did not go down that road; instead they chose the road of forgiveness 

Picking Cotton
Left to Tell
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place is my all-time favorite book about forgiveness that I read on a regular basis. It is a beautiful story about Corrie Ten Boom and her imprisonment in a World War II concentration camp for hiding Jews.

It was one of the highlights of my life to stand in that hiding place in Haarlem, Netherlands in 2014.

PRAYER


Lord, if Nelson Mandela, Louis Zamperini, and Corrie Ten Boom can forgive, I can forgive too. Thank you, Jesus, for being the ultimate example of forgiveness. Amen. 
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