For the text of Matthew 18, click here.
The first story of this chapter is often used to remind people that children exemplify the faith and/or humility required to be among the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but what does that mean? I mean, Jesus is certainly not talking about modern children. I love my son, but he wouldn’t know humility if it hit him in the face. What does this really refer to? What were children like back then??
On the other hand, I totally get the idea of needing to have people take care of the children, especially with how often orphans were mentioned in the Old Testament. The welfare of the orphans seemed to be an indication of the righteousness of the people. How would someone cause one of the children to sin? I suppose it goes back to “the sins of the father” in some regards, though I don’t mean that as being only fathers but mothers as well. When we teach the wrong thing or let children become little monsters. Or lock them up away from their parents for ….. oh, wait, this is the wrong post for that. Still, let’s work on receiving children like we would receive Jesus.
So how exactly would an eye tempt you to sin? Right, by seeing something you want but doesn’t belong to you and coveting it rather than being a decent person and looking away before it got that far. This is a classic rebuttal to the whole idea of rape being a woman’s fault because of the skimpy dress. Your eye caused you to sin not the placement of her hem. Looking good does not mean wanting to be touched. That goes for hands and feet too, though. Gouge it out, cut it off, don’t carry out the sin. Personal holiness.
Okay, then we move on to the parable of the Lost Sheep, also one that gets talked about a lot. God wants to find the people who went astray and rejoices more in getting them back than those who obediently did the right thing the whole time. Well, yeah. Who doesn’t celebrate more when they found something they lost than when they bought it in the first place?
There’s a progression to confrontation between people that doesn’t even get to violence or punishment. Talk to them one on one, then take a few witnesses, then tell the church. If he doesn’t listen to anyone, just cut them off. At the end of it, the binding and loosening is again promised but it seems this time to mean that it goes for whatever the church says the “brother” must do in this situation.
It ends with a parable about a king and one of his servants. The servant owes a lot of money to the king and he pleads for mercy and gets it. That same servants doesn’t show mercy, though, for the person who owes him money and this gets back to the king, which only upsets him. He decides then to go ahead and punish the servant the way he pleaded against in the first place. The parable is meant to reinforce the question we had in ch 6 about the Lord’s Prayer.
12and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
“As” definitely means “in the way that” and if you are unforgiving, God will be unforgiving to you. And don’t forget the part about things coming from the heart.
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