Increase our Faith! This was the disciples’ earnest plea after Jesus spoke to them about unlimited forgiveness in the first few verses of Luke 17. The disciples obviously thought they would need a lot more faith if they had to forgive on such an enormous scale.
Then Jesus asks the disciples to place themselves in the position of a landlord having a servant ploughing and tending sheep. After the servant had done a day’s work in the field, would they invite that servant to ‘come along and sit down to eat’? No! They would rather say ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink and after that you may eat and drink (Luke 17:8).
The servant is required to be completely focused on the service of his master. After a tiring day in the field, he has to prepare supper for his master. After that he must put on proper attire and be in attendance of his master while he is eating. Only after his master is satisfied, may he then serve himself to a meal. For this the servant does not merit special thanks. He is only doing his duty.
Then Jesus changes the scenario by putting himself in the position of the landlord and his disciples in the position of the servant. “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. ’(Luke 17:9)Have you come to the point where you have done everything that Jesus told you to do? Have you come to the place where the Master is the focus of all your thoughts, actions and words? None of us have, not even in our wildest dreams.
Jesus says we should regard ourselves as unworthy servants. The apostle Paul states it plain and clear in Ephesians 2:8-10. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us in advance to do.”
Being an unworthy servant is the ever present realisation that Jesus is our life and our light (John 1:4). He alone is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) A faith that humbly and trustingly accepts even when the answer is a heart breaking ‘No’. He is the potter, we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8).
And let us remember that Jesus, the sinless one, never puts a demand on us that he has not placed on himself. When we humbly confess our sins to him, he forgives completely.
Ultimately, there can only be one worthy servant, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. In him, we too, can become worthy servants.