Matthew 18, Here we go…………

The disciples begin asking Jesus about the kingdom of heaven. They wanted to know who in the kingdom of heaven is the greatest. They had not grabbed the concept of the kingdom of heaven. They had not figured out that in the kingdom of heaven the most powerful or the one that he world considered the best was not really the greatest. I really don’t know where to start with this. First, what is the kingdom of heaven? I have been taught a lot in life that the kingdom of heaven is a far off place somewhere high in the sky. Somewhere we will end up if we have walked the straight and narrow. If we have lived a life repenting for our sins and really trying to do good. But I believe something completely different. i believe that he kingdom of heaven is actually suppose to be here on earth. i believe it is the way that God wants the earth to be. His kingdom here on earth. He did say that in his prayer did he not? Thy kingdom come. It doesn’t say when we get to your kingdom. It’s when your kingdom comes here. So the first step in understanding Matthew 18 is to understand what he knigdom of heaven is. I  believe it is here on earth, but the way that God wants it to be.

So When Jesus was asked who would be greatest in his kingdom he grabs a child. He tells them that they will have to become like little children. They will have to become humbled like a child. Have you ever noticed how humbled children really are? It amazes me. I have two daughters, both four, and they forgive quicker than you can blink. Blows me away. They did not get that from me. I can wear a grudge like a crown, but I am working on it. Anyways, they forgive quickly. One minute they are choking each other and the next it’s dinner time at the Polly Pocket mansion. I don’t get it. I can literally be in one room, hear them screaming at each other one second and by the time I make it down the hall to their room they are giggling again. So to be like a child is to be forgiving. I am also amazed at how loving my children are. They are the most loving kids in the world. They want hugs and kisses all the time. And I love giving them those. They make me feel loved. They do not know anything about hate, racism, guilt trips, or revenge. They only know love. And they love unconditionally. Mind boggling at times. So to be as a child is to forgive and to love unconditionally without an agenda. Love for the sake of loving. Jesus says we have to become like children to be part of his kingdom.

After Jesus tells the disciples that they have to become like children he then tells them as children who we are to love. Who we are to welcome into our story which is really Gods story. Who we are to take under our wings as he takes us under his wings. He says we are to take care of the children, the weak, the friendless, the small, the frail, the mute, the poor, the ugly, and the disfigured. What a list. Maybe not the people we would want our golfing buddies to see us having lunch with. Maybe not the people we want our mom and dad to see us hanging out with late at night. Not anyone we would want in our little social clubs that make us feel so great.

Jesus then instructs the disciples to not plant any doubt, tempt, or lure one of these people away from him. He then gives us a picture of how well that sits with him. It would be better to tie a mill stone around our necks and jump into a large body of water than to turn one of the less away from him. Is there anting that to have ever done to turn a believer away from Christ?

In The Voice Matthew 18:10 says this, “Make sure that you do not look down on the little ones, on those who struggle, on those who are further behind you on the path of righteousness. For I tell you: they are watched over by those most beloved messengers who are always in the company of my father in heaven. The son of man has come to save all those who are lost". A few years back I helped lead out college ministry at our church. Mark, the leader, and I attended a Inter varsity meeting on the campus of the local private college a few miles away. They had asked that some of the local churches come by and tel the students about their church. Kind of a church fair if you will. There were about one hundred kids there and on of the local pastors spoke. That night he said something that to this day I can lose sleep over. He looked at those students, majority of them believers, and said that Jesus died for them and only them. That Jesus did not die for the unbeliever. Jesus did not die for the atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew and so on. But only for those who call themselves christians. I was floored. I could not believe this man said this. After he finished his hate speech I felt terrible. I decided to walk up to him and find out what his deal was. I tried to engage him in conversation and asked him why he believed that Jesus only dies for christians. He automatically went on the defensive, wanted to know where I went to seminary and walked away upon learning that i in fact have not been in seminary. Amazing. For God so loved the WORLD…… 

Starting with verse 15 Jesus begins to tell us how to handle quirks and problems we may have with each other. Go to that person. i don’t enough people actually do that and it turns into a he said she said fest, but if we deal with whatever is happening from the get go in the light, hen the devil has no darkness to hide in. Jesus tells us that whenever a group of Christ followers gather he is among them as well. He concludes chapter 18 talking about forgiveness. there is a beautiful parable about forgiveness starting with verse 23. It is super clear that God has forgiven us to the nth degree and we are to do the same to everyone. Especially our enemies. Forgiveness is tough thing, but it is central to being a Christ follower. Forgiveness, love, and more forgiveness.

 

Shalom.

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