MILLSTONES, STUMBLING, AND BABES IN CHRIST – Luke 17

And he said unto his disciples, It is impossible but that occasions of stumbling should come; but woe unto him, through whom they come!

It were well for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Luke 17:1‭-‬3 ASV

The particular qualities of little children commended by Jesus are humility, freedom from prejudice, teachableness, lovableness, trustfulness, faith, freedom from anxiety, and innocence.

Receiving a little child in Jesus’ name refers to complete acceptance of a CHILD-LIKE BELIEVER because of his innocent and unrestrained trust in the Lord.

The warning in this passage applies specifically to one who causes the loss of a human soul.

Such a sinner shall suffer a fate worse than death. “The great millstone” in this place means literally “a millstone turned by an ass,” and contrasts with the smaller millstones turned by hand (see the margin of the English Revised Version (1885)).

Why is the fate of such an offender worse than death by drowning? Because eternal death will be his reward.

Jesus had just finished the parable of Dives and Lazarus, which closed with the implication that Dives had influenced his five brothers to follow a sinful course, an error which he vainly sought to correct from the spirit world.

Jesus quite logically moved to warn those yet living against such a sin.

After noting the opinions of many to the contrary, it appears to us that there is a unity between the various pronouncements and that (although Luke does not say so) they were uttered on one and the same occasion.

These four sayings might be entitled “Four things of which the Christian should beware.”

These were enumerated by him as:

The sin of tempting others (Luke 17:1-2)

The sin of an unforgiving spirit (Luke 17:3-4)

The sin of overlooking the power of faith in this (Luke 17:5-6)

The sin of supposing that one may merit salvation (Luke 17:7-10)

There are four pronouncements here, not merely two, as indicated by the paragraphing in the English Revised Version (1885).

The Pharisees, who were constantly on the fringe of every audience Jesus ever addressed, were at that very moment trying to cause the Twelve themselves to stumble; and Jesus spoke in the most stern manner against those who would pervert the faith of others.

Occasions of stumbling The Greek word rendered STUMBLING “meant the trigger of a trap, contact with which would cause the trap to spring.

Therefore, although addressed to his disciples, this warning far exceeded anything that the Twelve might have needed.

It is God’s pronouncement of eternal wrath against those who lay a trap to destroy the faith of others.

One of these little ones … is a characteristic reference of Jesus to those who are “BABES IN CHRIST,” whose faith is young and weak.

Millstone” The teaching here is that physical death is a far more desirable fate than that which is reserved for those whose intent is to destroy the faith of others.

The millstone in view here weighed about forty pounds; and, although Matthew quoted the Lord as referring to “a millstone drawn by an ass,” a much larger stone, those commentators who style that a contradiction must be kidding.

A forty-pound stone around the neck would have the same effect as a stone ten times as large, if the wearer of either were thrown into the sea.

Jesus often taught on the subject of forgiveness.

Just about the longest parable in the New Testament regards this very thing (Matthew 18:20-35); and there is no need to make Luke’s account here a “variable” of other teachings of Jesus in similar words and different circumstances.

In fact, there is a little different thing in view here, namely, a warning against withholding forgiveness (when it has been asked for).

It is foreign to the intent of Jesus to ask, “But what if he does not repent?”

The follower of Jesus is not justified in holding a spirit of unforgiveness just because no apology is offered.

That would put the responsibility for the Christian’s attitude upon the offender; and that Jesus would never do.

As a matter of fact, if one is going to forgive only those sinners against himself who repent and request it, he will not forgive anyone ten times in a lifetime!

Besides that, what about those cases in which men sin against others WITHOUT EVER BEING AWARE that they have done so? And in religious matters, many sins are committed unintentionally (see John 16:2).

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be caused to stumble. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God.
John 16:1‭-‬2 ASV

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