Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Luke is very harsh and confrontational. We like to hear about the kind, gentle Jesus who just wants everyone to be “happy.” That Jesus isn’t present in Luke’s Gospel. Luke’s Jesus has a point to make about the arrogance of “righteous” people. This passage highlights the message well. Here is a paraphrase.
The bottom line of Jesus’ parable is this…God is the Master, we are the servants. We tend to forget that on a daily basis. Especially as Americans, we tend to think that we are special and deserve to be treated like royalty. We subtly demand that we get our way, and when we don’t, we pout or get angry. This passage is all about attitude.
In vv.1-3 Jesus gives a very direct caution about not causing someone to sin. The arrogance and sin is evident in that one.
In vv. 3-4, however, Jesus exposes another area where we show our arrogance and selfcenteredness. We are not willing to forgive. When someone sins, we are quick to point the finger and put someone down. Why? Because in so doing we elevate ourselves and can feel good about our relative “righteousness.” The truth of the gospel is that a truly repentant person should be restored. Here’s the formula: confront sin to bring about repentance; embrace repentance to bring about restoration. Put your image-management and finger pointing aside and seek unity and health in the body.
In v. 5 the apostles asked for an increase of faith. Based upon the parable which follows, it is safe to say that the apostles were asking for faith with the wrong motives. They wanted increased faith because they wanted the power to do all the things well that Jesus was asking them to do so that they would get a big “Atta boy” at the end of the day. Isn’t that like us? We may be good at avoiding evil, but we replace overt evil with covert evil in that we are motivated to do “good” so that we will be recognized for doing good. They wanted faith to move mountains so that, when a mountain was moved, Jesus would say, “Wow, you guys are awesome.” To curb this covert and subtle infection that was contaminating His soon-to-be church leaders, Jesus set the record straight, plain and simple. He said, “boys, you are slaves. You do your job because it is your job. You do not deserve a thank you. You serve me.” Wow.
Those are harsh words and a difficult pill to swallow. Yet, if we will be open enough to hear these words, it will go far to remove much of our stress. As a servant of God we do not have any pressure to “perform.” We don’t have to worry about what people think about us. It isn’t about us. It is about God. When we can take the focus off of ourselves and place it on God alone, then we can be at peace and find joy in simply serving.