Read Luke 17
Sin, Faith, Duty
17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The Coming of the Kingdom of God
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” 
37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Luke 17 gives us a glimpse into one of Jesus’s interactions with his disciples. In verse 2, Jesus states, “Woe to the person through whom sins come to others.” He explains it’s better for the person who causes others to “stumble” be thrown into the sea with a stone tied around his neck. Notice Jesus is talking to his disciples. He is referring to believers leading others to sin. The Enduring Word commentary explains the Greek word used here for sin is “skandalon.” This word refers to a stick that springs a trap or sets a bait. It was also used as a stumbling block set for people to trip over it.
Stop and think about that for a second. What exactly is Jesus describing in this verse? Perhaps Christ followers should ask ourselves a few questions. How often do we encourage gossip? Give false counsel? Cause division among believers? Fail to rebuke sin we see in another believer? Fail to speak the truth in love when we are led to do so and watch a believer continue in his sinful patterns?
Every time we do that, we have set the bait in the trap. Jesus says it’s better for us to be thrown into the sea. This is not meant to cause shame or guilt, but rather to help us pause and take account of our own actions or inaction. It’s probably safe to say we do not wake up each day with a goal of causing others to sin. We do, however, need to be attentive to how we might, even unintentionally, be setting the trap.
Paul tells us in Romans 14:13 we need to make up our minds not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in our brother’s way. John gives us advice in 1 John 2:10, “Whoever loves his brother lives in light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” If we truly love someone, and act in that love, we will act with intention at all times, making sure that we haven’t encouraged or enabled sin in their life. We make up our mind we won’t be a part of watching our brother take bait that will cause him great harm. Simply put, we love him and we act with intention to protect him from harm.
Today, make up your mind that you will not lead others to sin. Live in light. Love each other well.
- Is there any way in which you have been causing someone to stumble–through either action or inaction?
- How can you daily remind yourself to not put a skandalon (a trap) in another believer’s way?
- If you have identified a way in which you have been causing another believer to stumble, then reach out and ask for their forgiveness. Be bold enough to have the conversation and speak the truth in love.
Did You Know?
There are over 100 verses in the Bible warning against causing others to stumble. With that many warnings, we need to acknowledge the importance of our responsibility to each other and lovingly make up our minds that we will not take part in leading others to sin.
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