The disciples didn’t always get it right. In fact, they rarely got it right. They were slow learners.
They seldom had eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of the Kingdom of God that was right in their midst. The “leaven of the Pharisees” was taken literally. They wanted to cast down the fire of judgment upon some who remained unrepentant. They argued about who was the greatest and cajoled for position at Jesus’ right and his left. One was rebuked as an instrument of Satan right after making one of the most profound statements of faith in all of history.
I like the disciples nevertheless. I like them because of these things, not in spite of them….
They are ordinary, normal, down-to-earth men and women like you and I. They aren’t perfect, they don’t have it all-together, they make mistakes and blunders, they take a long time to learn, to get it, to understand. I like the disciples because they are normal, they are a lot like me.
This morning I was reading J.B. Phillips translation of the N.T. and got to Luke 17.1-6. It’s a passage that I had read multiple times, but this morning, just now, it stood out from the rest of the text. It encouraged me, it humbled me, and it made me laugh…
Why? Because this is one of those instances where the ordinary, down-to-earth disciples got it right, said it perfectly, and spoke a word of truth in three short words that we, all of us, ought to pray and ask for every moment of every day that we walk this earth seeking to follow the One whom we profess as Savior.
The dialogue runs as follows…
If your brother offends you, take him to task about it, and if he is sorry forgive him. Yes, if he wrongs you seventy times seven in one day and turns to you and says, ‘I am sorry’ seven times, you must forgive him.
In another Gospel Peter raises the question, seeking to show his generosity by offering to forgive the offender seven times. Rabbinic law said 3. So, for good measure, Peter doubles that and adds one. There Jesus blows away this “generous” offer, by expanding the limit to seventy times seven (note: not a literal 490 times, but limitless forgiveness for the repentant offender).
Here the context is a little different, but the message is the same. And the disciples’ response is priceless…
Why? Because it’s real, it’s life-like, it’s humble, and it’s honest.
Give us more faith.
Give us more faith to forgive. Give us more faith to follow. Give us more faith to live. Give us more faith…period.
This time the disciples got it right. Give us more faith. It’s a good–no, it’s a great–request.