Sunday, September 29, 2019

Proper 22 C

Proper 22 Series C  
(October 2 - 8)

Habakkuk 1:1–4; 2:1–4
2 Timothy 1:1–14
Luke 17:1–10

O God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, by Your grace hear the prayers of Your Church. Grant that those things that we ask in faith we may receive through Your bountiful mercy; through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord, who lives…

We Walk by Faith, and Not by Sight, in the Peace of Christ’s Forgiveness

We are surrounded by “destruction and violence” (Habakkuk 1:3) because the Law “is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.” (Habakkuk 1:4). 

In fact, the Law cannot rescue us from our enemies; it is our fiercest enemy of all. Therefore, not by sight, experience or feeling, nor by works, but “the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) 

Temptations to sin are sure to come” (Luke 17:1), but as often as we sin, the Lord rebukes us, turns us to repentance and forgives us. We pray that He would thus “increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). And indeed, He does! Though we are His “unworthy servants” (Luke 17:10), He prepares His Supper for us, dresses us properly, and gives us His body and blood to eat and drink. 

He appoints pastors for us, “by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:1). For the Gospel brings “life and immortality to light” (2 Timothy 1:10). 

This we believe. Therefore, “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard,” by which He guards you “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). 

The answer to all these questions simply stated, "just shut up and do it!"

Great Little Faith
Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Brege

The Apostles petitioned Jesus, “Increase our faith.”  At first glance this seems like an appropriate request, but Jesus does not give the answer we might expect.  He does not say, “Remain in my presence,” nor does He encourage them to “Keep hearing God’s Word,” as doing these would have apparently “increased” their faith.

In His answer to their request Jesus is making a couple of powerful and important points.  First He makes the important point that the size of the Apostles faith is not as important as they might think.  In another parable Jesus had used the tiny mustard seed as an illustration of how God’s kingdom “begins” very tiny—like a mustard seed—and then grows into a bird-nesting bundle of tree-like boughs.  So again now Jesus uses the tiny mustard seed to illustrate the Apostles’ faith, and in so doing He communicates that a “tiny” faith is sufficient to transplant a tree into the sea!  Clearly we should not be concerned about measuring our faith, for its supposed size is not what is important.  As soon as we begin to try to measure faith—either in ourselves or in others—we run the danger of making faith into some sort of personal quality or action.

A Christian’s faith only has importance and is only great because of its object.  This—that the object of our faith is what is important—is a second powerful point being made by Jesus’ answer, and it is magnified by the entire Bible.  Throughout Scripture, and perhaps especially in the Gospel of John, we observe an omnipresent discussion about believing in Jesus.  He is the object of the Christian’s faith, and He alone is what gives faith value.  It is interesting that the Gospel of Luke very infrequently speaks of faith in Jesus, for indeed preaching about “faith” is not the goal of the evangelist. The goal is proclaiming Jesus—His person and His work—and through this proclamation the Holy Spirit creates a trusting faith.  This truly is what St. Luke does—he “preaches” Jesus—and from this Gospel proclamation faith is generated.  The tiny “mustard seed” of faith is great only because it clings to Jesus Christ.  It boasts not in itself but in its object—The Son of God, crucified and risen for mankind.

Indubitably it is the object of the Apostles’ faith that will enable them to uproot the mulberry tree of the Kingdom and plant it in the sea of humanity.  It will be the object of the Apostles’ faith, not their faith itself, which will incessantly move them to plow and plant the Gospel in the hearts of people from all nations and to tend the sheep of Christ’s Church.  It will be the object of their faith—that object being the master who lovingly purchased them to be His servants—which will move them to serve  Him and to serve His holy meal to Him, and in so doing serve it to His bride who is one with Him.  It is the object of their faith—the One who made them worthy of heaven by His death and resurrection—that will enable them to confess, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”

Ultimately the Apostles would learn to confess no faith in themselves, nor in their gifts, nor in their strengths—but only in Christ, crucified and risen.  Theirs—and ours—is a great little faith; great because it trusts the Greatest One, and little, because it knows it must not nor cannot cling to nor boast in itself.

Temptations to sin Vv.1-4

Luke 71:1 
Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς [a]αὐτοῦ• Ἀνένδεκτόν ἐστιν τοῦ [b]τὰ σκάνδαλα μὴ ἐλθεῖν, [c]πλὴν οὐαὶ δι’ οὗ ἔρχεται
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!

~ Ἀνένδεκτόν Greek Stumbling blocks
~ It is impossible for scandals not to come. Woe to the one who brings such I scandals. What are scandals? Whatever causes one to waver. 
~ What is the connection between vs. 2 and Matthew 18:6-7?

Luke 71:2 
λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ εἰ [d]λίθος μυλικὸς περίκειται περὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔρριπται εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν ἢ ἵνα σκανδαλίσῃ [e]τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ἕνα.
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] 

~ σκανδαλίσῃ to stumble become victim of scandal 
~ It would be better for him if a milestone were placed around his neck and be hurled into the sea then to scandalize one of these little ones. Strangled was an unholy evil death. 
~'The depths' is what the Jews feared. 

Luke 17:3 
προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς. ἐὰν [f]ἁμάρτῃ ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἐπιτίμησον αὐτῷ, καὶ ἐὰν μετανοήσῃ ἄφες αὐτῷ
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 

~Watch out for yourself. If your brother sins rebuke him. If he repents, forgive. 
~Christians are in danger of offending by treating others self righteously or judging them (see v. 3)  ~Christians are to rebuke an erring brother, speak directly concerning his sin, and forgive as often as he has indicated he has repented.  

Luke 17:4 
καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας [g]ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ καὶ [h]ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ [i]πρὸς σὲ λέγων• Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ.
and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

~If he sins seven times in a day comes to you seven times and says, 'I repent'  you will forgive him.  
~What is repentance? It is 'a change in mind' shown with new actions. 
~What is forgiveness? It is 'no longer holding that sin against them' 

Increase our faith Vv.5-6
Turn to the right source for an increase of faith. The amount of faith is not the focus. Exercise the faith you already have. Works flow from faith. 

Luke 17:5 
Καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι τῷ κυρίῳ• Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

~The apostles said to the Lord, 'give us more faith' 

Luke 17:6 
εἶπεν δὲ ὁ κύριος• Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐλέγετε ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ• Ἐκριζώθητι καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ• καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν.
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

~He replied, if you have faith as a mustard seed you say to this Mayberry tree, be brought up and thrown into the sea it will listen to you.
~An impossible task made only possible in Christ. 
~The Mulberry tree was deeply rooted, not to be planted w/in ten feet of a cistern.   

Faith is a gift.  Works spring from it. Yet God owes us nothing. Deserving has nothing to do with it! 

Τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν δοῦλον ἔχων ἀροτριῶντα ἢ ποιμαίνοντα, ὃς εἰσελθόντι ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ ἐρεῖ [j]αὐτῷ• Εὐθέως παρελθὼν ἀνάπεσε,
Will any one of you who has a servant[c] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 

~ δοῦλον or bond servant; also verse 9 

~But is someone among you has a servant as a shepherd will you ask him hurry, come to dinner? 

Luke 17:8
ἀλλ’ οὐχὶ ἐρεῖ αὐτῷ• Ἑτοίμασον τί δειπνήσω καὶ περιζωσάμενος διακόνει μοι ἕως φάγω καὶ πίω, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα φάγεσαι καὶ πίεσαι σύ
Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,[d] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 

~ περιζωσάμενος, Greek "gird yourself"

~But will he not say to him, prepare something to eat and gird yourself to deacon me, until I have eaten and drunk. After these things you may eat and drink.

Luke 17:9 
 μὴ [k]ἔχει χάριν τῷ [l]δούλῳ ὅτι ἐποίησεν τὰ [m]διαταχθέντα;
Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 

~Would he thank that servant him for it? A question expecting a negative response. 

 οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς, ὅταν ποιήσητε πάντα τὰ διαταχθέντα ὑμῖν, λέγετε ὅτι Δοῦλοι ἀχρεῖοί ἐσμεν, [n]ὃ ὠφείλομεν ποιῆσαι πεποιήκαμεν.
So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;[e] we have only done what was our duty.’”

~Δοῦλο or bond servants

~ So you also, when you have done all (everything) you were commanded say, we are unworthy worthless slaves, we have only done out duty that which was our obligation.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture quotations marked SBLGNT are from the The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
A very rough outline

The right perspective of “duty.”

1. We are unworthy servants.
   A.  Have we sometimes caused offense?
   B. Have we not sometimes refused to deal lovingly with an erring brother/sister?

2. Faith makes it possible for us to do our duty.
   A. We need only exercise the faith we have. 
   B. We should not expect praise for merely doing our duty.

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