I've had the benefit today of reading early on the flight this morning (even with the 4am start muddling my brain!) and mulling it over through the day, digesting it. Brilliant to have the time to do that with God's word now and again!
We're looking at Luke 17 verses 5-10 today- as I'm not Internet connected I won't paste it here. It occurred to me today that we haven't talked bible translations: sometimes if you are new to bible study or find language a barrier, using a clearer text can help- try looking at this passage using bible gateway and switch the translation to either NCV or CEV. NLT can also be good. Why not try all three and see if you get a better grasp of the text? ( I often look up the passages out of a range of bibles too!)
Yesterday we met Jesus talking about avoiding influencing others to sin, caring for others by helping them to see the sin themselves and forgiving others who hurt us. Since then the passage moves on to the apostles (that's the group of 12 followers Jesus specifically chose to teach, and to build the church after he rose from the dead and returned to Father God!) who do tend to ask funny questions ( a bit like us really!). At verse 5 they're asking Jesus to increase their faith- fairly innocent question right?! Jesus' reply appears to be quite a rebuke ( a holy telling off!) as he tells them if they had even the faith of a very tiny seed they would be able to move a mulberry tree into the sea. Now what is that about?!
Context is always vital to understanding the bible; that means what text is sandwiching the passage you're looking at. We did that yesterday a bit by looking at the Rich Man story.
Basically the problem Jesus is pointing to is that his 12 followers haven't got a big enough view of God yet. They don't have any faith!
I think Jesus is suggesting faith is: understanding who God is ( sounds simple but God is not understood through human efforts alone but by his revelation- this means we need to study his word) and approaching God properly.
What follows this is an example Jesus gives by getting them to imagine they have a servant ( common enough for a land owner in those days) and they would expect the servant and master relationship to work. The servant, grateful for his job, would not be expecting special thanks for going about his masters orders, neither would the master expect to praise him for his obedience.
I was thinking about this as I tried to make sense of the two events recorded in Luke. I was in the plane after take off, flying low over englands turf. The cars were getting smaller on the roads as we rose, the trees were starting to shrink, the vast fields were starting to look like little squares of cereal now. God reveals himself to little specks (us) going about their daily business on planet earth, and we think we're the big stuff. How often do I boast about me rather than about God?! It was a moment of grasping a small bit of truth- humility is what Jesus is calling his apostles to here, and obedience without praise.