Reading for Tuesday, March 27: Luke 17
As Jesus continues to march toward Jerusalem, His judgment language continues to increase. Temptation is a common reality, but woe to him through him temptation comes (v1). Jesus prompts us to ask: will we be conduits of temptation or conduits of rebuke / forgiveness? Generous forgiveness is the hallmark of Christ’s followers (v4). In Judaism, a pious man would forgive three offenses; Christ’s followers are to exceed even these conventional norms of forgiveness. In the healing of the ten lepers, Jesus is a conduit of grace, dispensing mercy to those who ask: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” (v13). In like manner, citizens of heaven seek to mediate life — rather than temptation and sin — to others.
The disciples reply is heartfelt and sincere: “Increase our faith!” (v5). I often feel the same way when I read the words of Jesus, when I recognize just what sort of life He’s calling me to. It takes tremendous faith to forgive as Jesus calls us to forgive. It takes an incredible amount of faith to commit yourself to His commands, to cede control of your life to Him, to call Him Lord. I love the honesty of the disciples as they say to Him, “Lord, I’m not sure I have that kind of faith, at least not yet. So help me. Increase my faith. Help me believe so much that my actions can’t help but match up.” I can get behind that kind of statement…because it’s a statement I find myself making quite often. “Lord, increase our faith.” Amen.
But that’s the beautiful thing about discipleship: Jesus can work with this kind of sincerity, this kind of honesty. This, again, is the starting point of entry into the Kingdom. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven,” (Matt. 5.3). I don’t know this for a fact, but I have a feeling Jesus was beaming with pride when these disciples asked Him to increase their faith. I just think that’s a prayer Jesus can work with, the kind of prayer that honors Him. It’s the kind of prayer that reveals the Kingdom of God to us…”for the kingdom of God is in the midst of you,” (v21). And it’s His work to mediate this Kingdom in us and through us.
It’s all about Jesus. It’s all to Him and through Him and for Him and because of Him.
So, yeah…Lord, increase OUR faith.