In this passage, Jesus is warning his disciples about the serious consequences of leading others astray. He acknowledges that there will always be temptations and obstacles that cause people to stumble, but he emphasizes the responsibility of those who may contribute to others' stumbling.
The reference to a millstone being tied around someone's neck and thrown into the sea was a common form of punishment in ancient times. It was a particularly harsh form of punishment that was reserved for the most serious offenses. By using this graphic image, Jesus is emphasizing the severity of the consequences for causing others to stumble.
Jesus' warning applies not only to those who intentionally lead others astray, but also to those who may inadvertently contribute to others' stumbling. He is urging his disciples to be mindful of their words and actions and to avoid doing anything that might cause others to fall away from their faith.
The reference to "little ones" in this passage is significant, as it underscores the importance of protecting and nurturing the faith of those who may be vulnerable or new to the faith. Jesus is reminding his disciples that they have a responsibility to care for those who are weaker or less experienced in their faith journey.
It's important to understand the broader context of Jesus' teachings in this passage. In the preceding verses, Jesus had been speaking to his disciples about forgiveness and the need to continually forgive those who sin against us.
In Luke 17:1-3, Jesus shifts his focus to the responsibility that each of us has to avoid leading others into sin. He warns that it is better to suffer a severe punishment than to cause someone else to stumble in their faith.
The reference to "little ones" in verse 2 has been interpreted in different ways. Some scholars believe that Jesus is referring specifically to children, while others see this as a more general term that could include anyone who is new to the faith or who is particularly vulnerable or weak. Regardless of the interpretation, the message is clear: we have a responsibility to care for those who are vulnerable or new to the faith, and to avoid doing anything that might cause them to stumble.
Jesus' warning in this passage is particularly relevant in a world where social media and other forms of communication can spread ideas and opinions very quickly. It's easy to share something without fully considering the potential impact it might have on others, particularly those who are new to the faith or who may be struggling with doubt or uncertainty.
Luke 17:1-3 challenges us to be mindful of the impact of our words and actions on others, particularly when it comes to matters of faith. It encourages us to take responsibility for our influence on others and to avoid doing anything that might cause someone else to stumble in their relationship with God. At the same time, it reminds us of the importance of forgiveness and the need to extend grace and mercy to those who do stumble along the way.
See also: vs 4
Luke 17:1-3. He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no occasions of stumbling should come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be careful."