On Sunday we turn our attention to Luke 17. A section of the Bible which the NRSV sub-titles ‘Some Saying of Jesus and which the Good News Translation breaks into three sections: ‘Sin, Faith and A Servant’s Duty.’
Are these verses in Luke’s gospel just some sayings of Jesus? Do the three sections on sin, faith and a servant have anything to do with one another?
One wonders if it is possible to simply have some off the cuff remarks from Jesus. My sense was that he wasn’t one to mince words.
How do these verses work together and inform one another? Or are they simply three separate stories lumped together by the lectionary for this Sunday?
An approach to analyzing scripture is looking for patterns. A chiastic pattern is a literary technique which many authors use and I believe we can source out one in our passage from Luke to help make sense of the message for us.
Possible Chiastic Structure for Luke 17: 1-10
A – Sin happens and people get tripped up – v.1
B – Don’t be the reasons someone gets tripped up – v. 2-4
C – Have faith – v. 5-6
‘B – The servant does his duty and doesn’t get distracted – v.7-9
‘A – Serve God, don’t get tripped up – v. 10
What we see is that having faith is the key to this pattern. What comes before and afterwards is understood about what Jesus is saying about faith. Recognizing linguistic patterns in scripture (or other writing) helps us learn the message the author was trying to convey and helps us understand the passage as a unified whole.
Text: Luke 17: 1-10
Questions for Sunday
- What do you find to be a useful tool or method for understanding scripture?
- What do you feel is the central message in the passage for this Sunday?
Prayer for Sunday
Almighty God, give us faith. Faith that can move mountains, faith which will sustain us through difficult times. May we also trust and place our faith in you. For you are our rock and our redeemer. Amen.