Matthew 18:1 “…Who then is greatest…”
Seems petty to us, but we must remember where they are in knowledge and expectation. They still didn’t fully understand Christ’s mission, even though He was telling them He had to go die quite often. Commentary suggests the events of the recent past, the transfiguration incident, not being able to cast out the demon, probably stirred up some resentment. The other disciples wouldn’t know what happened on the mount, but the fact that they weren’t taken might have caused some friction.
4 “…whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”
No self reliance. Total trust in those who care for him. No claim to greatness, but shyness when put in the spotlight. True humility.
7 “…woe to that man by whom the offense comes”
Some choice in the matter. Not only breaking some law, but through action causing others to do the same. Why the teachers will receive the greater condemnation. Example is so important.
8 “If your hand or foot…”
Same warnings He gave during the Sermon on the Mount. If something is leading you astray, get rid of it. Better to do without than to suffer the consequences of sin.
10 “…their angels always see the face of My Father…”
Wonder if this is where we get the idea of guardian angels. Always see the face of My Father, have direct access to, have His attention. We have a close advocate now, Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father who makes intercession for us. Commentary agrees this doesn’t say that each person has a specific guardian, but that there is in fact a ministry of guardianship over people. Whether Jesus meant children physically or the spiritually youngest among His followers I’m not sure. To me it brings the importance of our treatment of both groups to the front. God certainly knows everything that happens, and yet here is another method by which those actions are brought to His attention.
12 “…does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one…”
He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. The importance of all.
15 “…go and tell him his fault between you and him alone…”
Not spread it around on social media. I’ve never been good on the first part, go and tell him. Comes from a bad process of dealing with offenses and causes a lot of problems. You can’t correctly forgive someone if you don’t accept the fact they did something to you. Denial of the action is not forgiveness. I keep things bottled up until they grow way beyond the original offense. It’s a misguided attempt to ignore what happened as unimportant and/or irrelevant. Christ’s admonition is to go and clear the air. Shows what a mess we can make when we do things our way instead of His.
17 “…tell it to the church…”
Local body. Considering today’s version of local churches, may be better to consider a representative body within the church as opposed to standing before the whole congregation. I guess it would depend on the size of the congregation and the particular situation. Some commentaries suggest it specified the entire body and not just the leaders of the congregation. Brings into mind the question of whether our local congregations were ever supposed to grow beyond a certain number. What would the early Christians think of the megachurches.
17 “…let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector”
As one commentary suggested, if a person stands before the congregation and refuses to abide by the standards which granted membership, he practically excommunicates himself. But we must remember, this only comes after someone has exhausted the first two steps in the process. All attempts have been made to correct the issue. By doing so, you also make sure the original offense was as first stated and not a misunderstanding or a false claim.
18 “…whatever you bind on earth…”
Repeat of what He mentioned earlier. And it’s clear here He was speaking to all of the disciples, not just to Peter.
19-20 “…if two of you agree…it will be done for them…where two or three are gathered…I am there in the midst of them”
Not a formula for getting what we want simply because we all ask for the same thing. Carries the idea of proper requests, that being that all must be within the will of God. If two come together in sync with the Father, Christ is with them, and what they ask would be in His will. That kind of situation brings about the desired result.
22 “…up to seventy times seven”
Not meant as a specific number, but an exclamation of enormity. We don’t stop at 490 times when it comes to forgiveness.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Idea goes beyond forgiving others, but also includes the stipulation that our own trespasses won’t be forgiven if we don’t. It’s a highly focused idea of being like Christ. As Paul says in Romans, God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. His act of forgiveness came before we repented. To have the attitude of forgiveness toward others is to become like Christ. That’s not to say it’s easy and doesn’t take time, but it is the goal.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.