Passage: Luke 17
v1-10 - As you read the gospels, it's really important to notice who Jesus is speaking to. When He speaks to the crowd, He uses generalities and parables to teach broad truths. When He speaks to the Pharisees, it's often with anger and frustration because they misunderstand the truth. But in the opening passages of chapter 17, Jesus is speaking to His disciples (v1), so His teaching here is focused on what it means for His followers to live in the world as citizens of the Kingdom of God. The apostles ask a very appropriate question in v5, which is something we often ask for as well: "Lord, increase our faith." Surprisingly, Jesus doesn't seem to answer their request. Instead, He once again uses the example of the tiny mustard seed, as if to say, "you need to focus on using the tiny bit of faith that you have, not ask for more." We all need our faith increased, but first and foremost, we must use the faith we've already been given.
v11-19 - In the episode of the ten healed lepers, it's often the fact that only one returns to give thanks that grabs our attention, and this is well worth noting. Notice also how Jesus equates the one (who happens to be a Gentile) who returns to Jesus is the one who is giving praise to God. But this story is about much more than simple thanksgiving. The nine lepers were 'cleansed' (v14), but the returning thankful leper was 'made well' because of his faith (v19). Nearly every other time that word is used in the New Testament it means saved. This story about the grateful leper is an example of how it is we must use the little bit of faith we have.
v20-37 - Jesus has shifted from talking to His disciples to interacting with the lepers, and now once again He's speaking to the Pharisees, so we should expect more generalized teaching designed to reorient their theology. Notice how Jesus doesn't delve into the particulars of theology, not because they're not important, but because most theological errors are found in people's misunderstanding of broad categories, not in the minute details that flow out of those categories. We'll just focus on one aspect of Jesus teaching on the future. First, while we tend to think of 'Kingdom work' as something we do in the community or on the mission field, Jesus reorients our perspective by reminding us that the Kingdom of God is within us (v21). Therefore, building up the Kingdom begins by building up ourselves to better know and experience God.
Old Testament Reference -
Jesus references the judgment that Sodom experienced as He speaks to the Pharisees about the coming judgment. Read the account of Sodom in Genesis 19:1-29.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions.
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Jesus said the days just before He returns to earth in judgment will be much like the days of Noah before the flood, and the days of Lot before Sodom was destroyed. Jesus also listed several human activities that were taking place during the times of Noah and of Lot. How many of these can you name? (v26-29)
How has this chapter changed your understanding of:
How you must use faith;
How you must build up the Kingdom of God?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God who rules in righteous judgment, just as He has shown in the days of Noah and Lot (v26-29)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: When your faith is aligned with God's will, even the smallest amount of faith will produce tremendous things in Christ's name (v6)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: