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The Servant's Duty


 

                          PART VIII: THE MISCELLANEOUS PARABLES

                              CHAPTER 41

                                              Introduction

                           Luke arranges verses 1-10 of chapter 17 as a coherent
                     whole.   Let us first look at the whole passage, and then to
                     the parable itself.   The Parable of the Servant's Duty is
                     found only in Luke 17:7-10.

                                             The Story

                         Jesus said to his disciples: "Things
                   that cause people to sin are bound to
                   come, but woe to that person through whom
                   they come.  It would be better for him to
                   be thrown into the sea with a millstone
                   tied around his neck than for him to
                   cause one of these little ones to sin.
                   So watch yourselves.

                        "If  your  brother sins, rebuke him,
                   and if he repents,  forgive him.   If  he
                   sins against you seven times in a day and
                   seven times comes back to you and says,
                   `I repent,' forgive him."

                         The apostles said to the Lord,
                   "Increase our faith!"

                        He replied, "If you have faith as
                   small as a mustard seed, you can say to
                   this mulberry  tree,  `Be uprooted and
                   planted in the sea,'  and it will obey
                   you.   (Luke  17:1-6,  New  International
                   Version).

                         "Suppose one of you had a servant
                   plowing or looking after the sheep.

                   Would he say to the servant when he comes
                   in from the field, `Come along  now  and
                   sit down to eat'?  Would he not rather
                   say, `Prepare  my  supper,  get  yourself
                   ready and wait on me while I eat and
                   drink; after that you may eat and drink'?

                         Would he thank the servant because
                   he did what he was told to do?  So you also,
                   when you have done everything you were
                   told to do, should say, `We are unworthy
                   servants;  we have only done our duty.'"
                   (Luke   17:7-10,   New  International
                   Version).

                                               

                   The Interpretation
             Here is an outline of the whole  passage, adapted from Childers
         (BEACON BIBLE COMMENTARY, LUKE, By Charles Childers,
         pp. 570 ff.):

         1.   FAILURE  (vv 1-2).  "Things that cause people to sin are
         bound to come...."   Here,  Jesus  warns  against  causing  a
         young  convert  or  a child to sin.  If we are performing our
         duty, we will reduce our temptation to sin.  For instance, if
         King  David  had been out leading his army, he would probably
         not have been tempted with Bathsheba.  We have hope  when  we
         fail, because in his mercy we find forgiveness when we ask.

         2.  FORGIVENESS (vv 3-4).  "If your brother sins, rebuke him,
         and if he repents, forgive him."  Here, Jesus teaches  us  to
         have  an ATTITUDE and WILLINGNESS to forgive.  How many times
         has our Heavenly Father forgiven us?  What offenses  has  our
         Heavenly Father forgiven us?

         3.  FAITH  (vv  5-6).   "Increase  our  faith!"  Jesus taught
         that a small amount of biblical faith is powerful.  If we are
         faithful,  then God can place more faith in us and entrust us
         with more faith.

         4.  FAITHFULNESS (vv. 7-10).  We have a  duty  to  obey  God.
         Performing  our  duty  does not merit any special reward from
         God.  No works or good conduct can ever earn  our  salvation,
         otherwise Jesus would not have had to die for our sin.  If we
         serve God through love, then our motivation will be right.

             The characters of the story and the persons whom they
         represent in reality are:

              1.  Household Owner         God
              2.  Servant                          Christian

            In the time of Christ, there were 60,000,000 slaves in the
         Roman  Empire.  (BEACON  BIBLE  COMMENTARY,  LUKE, By harles
         Childers,  pp. 570 ff.).   We cannot fully comprehend the
         scope and inhumanity of this today.  Probably the closest
         comparison we have today in the United States is the employer
         employee relationship.

             Morgan notes,

              ...what they asked for was an increase, not of
              love, but of faith.   It  was an apprehension on
              their part that life could only be equal to the
              demands of  Jesus by faith, by that activity of the
              human soul that takes hold upon the invisible.
              (Morgan, THE PARABLES AND METAPHORS
              OF OUR LORD, p. 228).

                   Our Lord said, You do not need more faith, but
              faith of a different kind and nature.  It is not a
              question of quantity, but one of quality.

                   Then what is faith?  Faith is that which has
              in it a principle of life.  We may define a living
              faith by saying three things about it.  Living
              faith is first conviction concerning the fact of
              God.  It is secondly the experience of relationship
              with God.  Thirdly and consequently,  living  faith
              is absolute submission to the will of God.
              ...................................................
                  I  am emphasizing a truth that is fundamental;
              first, conviction of God; secondly, a relationship
              with  God;  and  then  obedience to God.  We cannot
              exercise faith in God doing anything that we do not
              know to be the will of God.  (Morgan, NOTES ON THE
              PARABLES AND METAPHORS OF OUR LORD, p. 230).

            Jesus is describing his own relationship with his
         Heavenly Father.  He believed in his Father.   He loved his
         Father, therefore he humbled himself submitted to his
         Father's will.  Paul taught us that, ....

           The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.
         (Galatians 5:6) (New International Version)

                               Central Truth

           OUR DUTY TO GOD IS TRUSTING,
                         LOVING SERVICE.

                                    Conclusion
 

          Let us pray this prayer from our
      whole hearts:  Dear Heavenly Father,
        Thank you for the truths that Jesus
     taught in this passage.  With your help,
          I accept them.  I choose to love,
                 believe and serve you.
                      In Jesus' Name,
                               Amen.