Life is full of struggles and irritations. Relationships are challenging. Temptations abound to doubt the goodness of God. When it appears that life has taken a bad turn, when things are overwhelming, a clear and present danger exists. Your response may become a source of temptation to those around you. Think with me about this.
Jesus was walking along the road to Jerusalem to where he knew he would be crucified. This story is part of the ominous travel narrative in Luke’s gospel. The crucial moment in all of human history is about to unfold. Jesus will be tempted with the greatest of temptations. Yet, even in this heavy hour, he turns his focus to his disciples.
In the first six verses of Luke 17 Jesus warns his disciples not to encourage temptation in others by failing to honor God when difficulties come. Being a stumbling block and creating the climate for others to sin is a dangerous place to be! Jesus tells his disciples they must not go there. After warning about the punishment of the millstone, he demands:
"Pay attention to yourselves!"
This is immediately followed by a pointed, real-life illustration that strikes at the heart of the disciple's pride. In rapid fire, with no room for discussion, Jesus declares:
If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him.