A peek into God’s Kingdom
Stop sinning but keep forgiving1 Jesus told his disciples, “It’s inevitable. There are going to be obstacles out there that could trip you up. But I’ve got bad news for the people sticking their feet out and doing the tripping. Their time is coming. 2 For those people who cause these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them if someone tied a rock around their neck and pitched them in the sea.
3 [Stay alert. If your brother commits a sin, tell him about it. And if he says he’s sorry, forgive him. 4 If he commits a sin that hurts you, and he does it seven times a day, and seven times he tells you he’s sorry, go ahead and forgive him.” 5 The apostles told Jesus, “Give us more faith.”
6 The Lord said, “If you had the faith of a tiny mustard seed, you could tell that sycamore tree over there, ‘Pull up roots. Now go plant yourself in the sea.’ And it would do it.
Don’t get a big head7 If you have a slave who comes in from plowing the field or watching the sheep, are you going to tell him, ‘Come on over here and relax now. Let’s have dinner together’? 8 Aren’t you more likely to say, ‘Okay, I’m hungry. Fix me something to eat. After that go change your dirty clothes and serve me my food. When I’m done, you can eat’?
9 Does the master thank the slave for doing the work the slave is supposed to do? 10 Think of yourself as the slave. When you have done the work you are supposed to do, don’t get a big head about it. Say, ‘We’re just doing our job.’”
Jesus heals 10 lepers11 As Jesus continued his trip toward Jerusalem, he came to the southern border of Galilee, beside the region of Samaria.
12 He walked into one of the villages along the border. Ten men with leprosy came to meet him. Normally lepers kept their distance from healthy people. 13 They cried out, “Jesus, Teacher, please help us!”
14 He saw them and he simply said, “Go let the priests take a good look at you.” As they started walking away, they saw that their skin diseases had been healed. 15 One of the men turned around and went back to Jesus, screaming his thanks to God. 16 When the man reached Jesus, he fell flat on his face at Jesus’ feet and started thanking him. The man was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus said, “Weren’t there 10 of you I healed? Where did the other nine go? 18 The only one who bothered to come back and express his gratitude to God is this foreigner who’s not a Jew?”
19 Jesus told the man, “You can get up and go on your way now. You have faith, and it has saved you.”
When the Kingdom comes20 A group of Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God was going to get here. Jesus told them, “You won’t see the Kingdom of God coming. 21 No one is going to say, ‘Hey everybody, here it is!’ or ‘Oh my goodness, it’s over there!’ Look, I’ll tell you why. The Kingdom of God is already here among you.”
22 Jesus told the disciples, “The time is coming when you’d love to have one of these days back—one of these days with the Son of Humans. But that’ll be impossible. 23 People will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ Or they’ll say, ‘Look, you’ll find him at this location.’ Don’t believe it. Don’t try to chase down those leads. 24 When the Son of Humans comes back, you’ll know it. It’ll be as obvious as a lightning flash that fills the sky, booming from one end to the other. 25 But before that happens, he’s going to have to suffer. A lot. He’ll be rejected by this generation of human beings.
26 When the Son of Humans comes back, the world will be much like it was in the days of Noah. 27 Everything seemed normal until the flood came. The people were going about their everyday lives: eating, drinking, and getting married. Then Noah got into the boat, the flood came, and everyone outside died.
28 The world will also be very much like it was in the days of Lot. The people ate, drank, bought and sold, planted, and built. 29 When Lot left the city of Sodom, a firestorm of burning sulfur rained down from the sky and killed everyone there. 30 That’s the kind of shocking interruption people can expect when the Son of Humans appears. 31 When that day comes, a person on their deck or patio won’t have time to go into the house and pack their clothes for a trip. The person working out in the field won’t have time to go back to the house. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife.
33 People who try to save themselves will die trying. It’s the people who lose their lives who will be saved. 34 I’m telling you this and you’d better believe it, that day two people will be sleeping together in bed, but one will be taken and the other left.
35 Two women will be grinding grain into flour. One will be taken and the other left. 36 Two men will be working in the field together. One will be taken, the other left.” 37 The disciples asked Jesus, “Where is this going to happen, Sir?” Jesus said, “When you want to find a dead body, look for the vultures.”
Mustard seed was one of the tiniest in the region. The seed of black mustard (Brassica nigra), which grew along the sea of Galilee, is about 2 mm or less in size; tiny round balls. That’s about a 16th of an inch. You can fit roughly 70 seeds on top of a penny.
The sycamore tree (Ficus sycomorus) is to other plants in Israel what a sumo wrestler is to a ballet dancer playing a piccolo. The tree grows in Israel and in parts of Africa and the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
See notes for 5:14, 7:22.
Priests functioned a bit like doctors when it came to leprosy, or any kind of a skin disease. Anyone with a skin disease had to be evaluated by a priest and declared healed before they could resume their normal life. Until then, they were considered ritually unclean and they had to stay away from other people. See note for 5:14.
Jerusalem was a Jewish city. Samaritans and Jews did not generally get along. Their relationship was about as unfriendly as that of Israelis and Palestinians today. For this reason, Jews traveling between Jerusalem and northern territories such as Galilee generally bypassed the Samaritan region in between the two.
The Greek word sōzō can also mean “healed.”
The confusing phrase is more literally “one of the days of the Son of Man.” Bible experts say it’s hard to tell if Jesus was referring to his time of ministry on earth, or to his return in a Second Coming. Some scholars wonder if he might have been referring to both.
Usually translated Son of Man. See note 5:24.
She stopped to look back, got caught in the firestorm and chemical spray, and became a salt lick. Genesis 19:26.
Some ancient manuscripts don’t include this verse. But it does show up in Matthew 24:40.
Jesus says if someone commits a sin against us, hurting us…and they do it seven times a day and then apologize after each sin, we’re supposed to “go ahead and forgive him” (17:4). Is he kidding? Who, but a putz or a doormat, is going to do that?
The disciples asked Jesus, “Give us more faith” (17:5). Did you notice that Jesus doesn’t seem to do that for them? Instead, he simply tells them it doesn’t take much faith to get big things done. Why do you think he doesn’t do much more than tell them they don’t need faith any bigger than “a tiny mustard seed” (17:6)? How do you think people get more faith?
Jesus tells what seems to be a pretty odd story about a master and a slave (17:7-10). He essentially says the master doesn’t need to thank the slave for the work the slave is supposed to do. And he tells his followers to think of themselves as slaves who don’t deserve any praise for the work they do. What in the world do you think Jesus is trying to teach here?
Does anyone find it odd that right after telling a story that suggests the disciples should not expect any praise for the work they do that Jesus heals 10 lepers and when only one comes back to praise him he asks, “Where did the other nine go?” (17:17)? What do you make of that apparent inconsistency?
Bible experts go one of two ways in quoting what Jesus had to say to the leper he healed. Either Jesus told the man that his faith “healed” him, or his faith “saved” him (17:19). Which version makes most sense to you, given the context of the surrounding verses?
Bible experts have a language to describe what Jesus is talking about in the section “When the Kingdom comes” (17:20-37). Some would say Jesus is talking about “the future consummation of the Kingdom of God.” If you think of “consummation” in terms of what it means to “consummate a marriage,” how would you put the scholarly lingo into everyday English, to describe what this section is about?
Jesus compares his return to lightning, the Flood that destroyed the world, and the firestorm that destroyed Sodom. Do you think he’s trying to say that his return will be unexpected or destructive or both?
What do you think Jesus is talking about when he tells the Pharisees, “The Kingdom of God is already here among you” (17:21)? Are you inclined to think he is talking about himself, or perhaps the religious movement he is starting, or perhaps the Holy Spirit at work in the world, or possibly the fact that there are true lovers of God all around the region?
Some people have suggested that the Second Coming of Jesus refers to his resurrection, which was unexpected and jolting. Just for fun, what do you see in the section “When the Kingdom comes” (17:20-37) that might support this theory? What would seem to suggest Jesus was talking about something else?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus seems to imply that he’s especially upset by people who lure others into sin, causing them to stumble in their spiritual walk. Who would you say are some of those “people sticking their feet out and doing the tripping” (17:1)?
LIFE APPLICATION. Some people spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the Second Coming of Jesus. What do you think might be some of the benefits of doing this? What are some of the drawbacks?