“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Valid question. The disciples are living in a time where everything in the community revolves around status. If Jesus is coming as the new King of the Jews, what will be the new pecking order? Will the Roman’s still be at the top? Amongst them, who will be in charge? When Jesus responds using a child, the word He uses refers to “toddler”. This is more than just having “child-like faith”. Toddlers are dependent, they cannot survive without someone taking care of them. Toddlers don’t have a motive or a different point of view. The faith of a toddler is unwavering. If you tell them their food is on the table, they do not doubt it, ponder over it, discuss it…they believe it.
Verse 6-9- the use of hyperbole (I love that word!) is intentional so that we consider the severity of the sin from God’s perspective. To cause a child of God’s to stumble in their walk with Christ… is a “Beware” (Woe) moment. He then reverses it to be the one that has stumbled. To exaggerate the idea of “if your hand is causing you to sin” is really important to see the severity of sin. Losing your right eye or limb (right meaning best side), is nothing compared to eternity in Hell.
OK, ready for it. I am not kidding you. If I had to tally the most common scripture/set of verses I have heard from God or used from the Bible it is this:
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
It is not a secret that sheep are not bright, they cannot focus and wander off constantly (like looking in a mirror). Therefore, they ALWAYS need a Shepard. The Shepard is the steward on the watch for the owner of the sheep. However, they are accountable for all 100 of them. If he loses a sheep (it happened all the time) they were required to pay for it.
When I hear it from God randomly, It has applied to missions God puts me on AND He has used it to rebuke me often. “Ummm, Trish, this is not about you…it’s about the ONE”. Well, I was once the “one”.
I do want to share real quick, a few months ago we read Proverbs 13:24.
Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
In the time the scripture was written, and even still today, shepherds used tools to guide their sheep. They use a staff, or a crook, and a rod. The crook is the curved stick you see most often in pictures with shepherds.
- When sheep fall into a pit or lose sight of their flock, they look down. The curved end of the crook is used to pull the sheep’s head back up and guide it in the way it should go.
- The rod is used to guide sheep who wandered off from the flock. It can also be used defensively to keep the sheep safe from predators.
I am already way off-topic (shocking) so I am going to put one more (maybe it is for me, maybe for you today), connecting Proverbs to Psalms to Matthew this morning:
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Every day I see something new…instead of me reading “Follow Me” but instead…Jesus is behind me with His rod and His staff for my protection!
Let’s keep going….”Leave the 99″
OK, back to the Bible 😘
Sin in the Church- I wrestle with God all the time about this because I have seen this done twice in a church. I know I have to trust the elders read these scriptures and headed advice from the Lord on it and know things I don’t know but I am going to tell you it left a bad taste in my mouth the way I have seen this interpreted. 🤐
- If you are in fellowship with a believer. Believer to Believer, and one is openly sinning, we are to confront them PRIVATELY with the intent of REPENTANCE.
- If they do not, then 2 or 3 witnesses are to be brought PRIVATELY to bear witness, again with the goal of Repentance.
- If they do not, then take it to church council, again the goal is Repentance.
- IF they still do not, then you must cut fellowship with them and treat them as unbelievers (with love), again the goal is repentance.
In the meantime what are you, the witnesses, and the church doing? Not throwing stones at it…that is for sure! 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
You are gathering with Jesus and praying over that person, with the goal of Repentance.
So then what happens when they Repent? You forgive them just as you have been forgiven for your many sins.
Forgiveness takes away our vengefulness. (oh, but that is hard for my ugly heart). Go back to the story of Cain and Abel. Was he forgiven?
23 Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for injuring me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times.”
Escalating vengeance can only be snuffed out by forgiveness
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”