Skip to content

Luke 17:1-19 – millstones, mulberry trees, slaves and gratitude

This passage has five different subsections – all of which relate to the theme of discipleship.

Temptation is an unavoidable part of a disciple’s life. What is to be avoided is doing something that causes another person to be tempted. Such a person will experience woe – comparable to having a heavy millstone tied to a person and being cast into the sea. Disciples don’t cause others to stumble in temptation.

When a brother or sister disciple sins we should rebuke them. However, many times they repent we should forgive. Disciples speak and forgive in a way that reflects God’s mercy. We don’t lead people into sin but deliver them from it by speaking righteously and showing mercy.

Disciples want to increase their faith – but even a little faith is effective. Even a mustard seed of faith can uproot a mulberry tree and throw it into the sea – which is far better than oneself being thrown into the sea (as in the previous periscope).

The fourth characteristic of a disciple is faithful service.

The final characteristic is recognizing the kingdom with thanksgiving. Ten lepers ask Jesus to have mercy and Jesus heals them causing them to become clean. Only one former leper seems to recognize that in Jesus the kingdom of God has come – he turns back, praises God in a loud voice, falls prostrate before Jesus and gives thanks. What is surprising is that it was the Samaritan rather than the Jewish lepers that made this response. What counts is not one’s privileges or religious pedigree but whether a disciple recognizes the kingdom and responds appropriately. Interestingly, Jesus speaks of the Samaritan leper as “returning and praising God” while in fact he had returned and gave thanks to Jesus – explicit evidence that Jesus is God.

Disciples do not cause others to stumble in temptation thereby being thrown into the sea. Disciples deliver people from sin by speaking righteously and showing mercy. Even a little faith in a disciple if effective in throwing something into the sea. A disciple is faithful. A disciple recognizes the presence of the kingdom in Jesus and responds in returning and praising God.