Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Matthew 18:1-20 - Who is greatest?

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In this next section (Matthew 18:1-20) Jesus deals with another question from his disciples, and then launches into further parables.

The disciples want to know who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He calls over a child and explains that access to heaven is not possible unless a person is like a child. The greatest will be the humblest and in receiving a child, we are receiving Jesus himself.

How well do we understand this? Do we get it well enough for it to impact our daily lives?

Jesus also says that causing a child to sin would be so dreadful that it would deserve drowning. Not only drowning, but drowning by means of a massive weight in truly deep water. In other words, exaggerated drowning, extreme drowning. It's so bad that if a hand, foot or eye causes sin, cutting it off or pulling it out wouldn't be too severe, that's tough language to illustrate a serious problem. Jewish teaching often used this kind of exaggeration, Jesus is saying to them, "Take note. This is very serious".

Jesus then explains that Father cares about a small child the way a shepherd cares about a lost sheep. There is a single mindedness in the search and rescue operation he will launch.

And finally he teaches about responding when we have been wronged. Two or more witnesses are required in Jewish law, and Jesus says that where there are two or three of us, he will be present as well.

Will we let Jesus lead us here? Are we willing to be like small children? Will we avoid causing temptation? (Remember, the evil one tempts, the Holy One does not. So if I tempt, whose child am I?) How will we respond when we are unjustly treated by others?

And will we show the world how Jesus wants his people to behave? Will we bring blessing or temptation to those around us? We are his representatives on the Earth. People will respond to Jesus according to what they see in me. That is a huge responsibility.

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