October 9, 2007
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At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
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And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
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Thought for the day:
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The majority of Matthew 18 is given over to a discourse on the subject of offenses. The passage opens with the disciples' arrogant requests to find out which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom. Christ responds by using a small child as an illustration. He shows that as a child humbles himself to trust the Lord, so a sinner must humble himself in order to repent and be saved, and a believer must humble himself to be come great in the eyes of the Lord. He goes on to say that any person who would cause a child to stumble spiritually (6) would have been better off to have died, for God takes this matter very seriously. By the way, I believe that this puts a tremendous amount of responsibility on parents, as well as all others who are involved in children's ministries. If I as a parent lead my child astray spiritually, there is a price that I will have to pay for that. If my actions cause them to go adrift from their spiritual moorings, then God will hold me accountable for that.
This launches Him into the discussion about offenses. Verse 7 is a loaded verse:
"Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!"
There are two principles here that all believers need to remember. The first is that God is displeased when we cause others to stumble in their Christian walk. He pronounces a woe upon that individual who is so selfishly minded that he makes decisions without considering or caring about the impact that it will have on others. We need to give great thought about what the effects of our actions and words will have upon people. God is keeping track. There is a second principle that is given here as well. It is that offenses always occur. It is wrong when people do sinful things that offend us. However, we need to realize that the fact is that even Christian people are going to say and do things that they should not. Therefore, we need not be constantly upset about what others have done, and we certainly should not stop serving the Lord because of the actions of others. If you are a Christian, and if you are part of a local church, sooner or later a fellow Christian is going to hurt you. When it happens, how are you going to respond? Are you going to quit serving the Lord, or are you going to continue doing right because you understand that these things happen, and that the Lord wants you to follow Him in spite of what others may say or do? The choice you make here will affect not only you, but those around you as well, so be sure to make the correct one.
In verses 8-10 Jesus once again warns the offender. In verses 15-20 he teaches the one who has been trespassed against how to respond. Colossians 3:13 tells us that we should be "forbearing one another." This means that sometimes we just understand that people do wrong things and we move on. However, sometimes trespasses occur which must be dealt with. The procedure for handling these is spelled out in verses 15-17. The first responsibility that the offended person has is to go to the offender privately. This serves two purposes. First, it may be that the offender doesn't even realize that he has done something wrong. Second, when confronted, he may see the error of his ways and repent. If he is willing to repent, then no one else needs to be made aware of the situation. If he refuses to respond properly, then the victim needs to take one or two others with him when he returns, so that these independent observers can determine who is right and who is wrong. If they decide that the transgressor is at fault, they should encourage him to repent. If he does, then all is taken care of. If not, the entire church must be brought into the process. When they hear the evidence, they decide who is telling the truth, and assuming that the transgressor is still found to be at fault, they will call upon him to repent. If he still refuses, he is to be considered a publican and heathen. I believe that this means that he is removed from the membership of the church (as a heathen would be), and the church refuses to have personal fellowship with him (as a publican would be treated). This process serves to remove the unrepentant from the church, it sets an example before the remaining members, and it will hopefully shame the sinner into repentance.
The conclusion of the chapter deals with forgiveness. If we have been offended, and the transgressor repents, we have a Biblical obligation to forgive him. No matter how many times it happens, nor how great the offense, forgiveness must always be given to the one who repents. The illustration of this is that no matter what someone else may do to us, it can not begin to compare to the sin that I have done against God. Yet He forgave me everything, and I can not refuse to forgive others who, in comparison, have done so little against me.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery