Read: Matthew 18-20
The fourth discourse recorded by Matthew provides a wide array of teaching points that continue Jesus’ counter culture concept. It’s interesting that children are mentioned twice, though we may skim over that from our cultural perspective. There is much to learn here. May God speak to you this morning as Jesus teaches through His words.
Who Is Greatest?
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4
The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14
Playing with young children is great fun! Hearing the word, “Again!” with such enthusiasm and joy just makes me smile as I toss Brennan on the sofa “when the bow breaks” or when Cali is dancing as we sing a song. They have no particular cares in the world. Their moms and dads tend to every need and they trust them completely. It’s a beautiful thing. Surrounded by love, disciplined as necessary, Brennan and Cali are growing quickly. When I read the scripture above, I see their smiles and it reminds me of precious time with our own four girls, each having their moments of great innocence and unstoppable laughter, each reminding Zoë and I what it means to be a child in the presence of the King. I don’t want to forget that–ever.
But oh how it goes by so quickly! Four year olds turn into teenagers and young adults far too quickly. Lord, help us to treasure the moments and remember Your words when we become too grown up in our own minds, make the Gospel too complicated and lose our innocence. Forgive me in those times and remind me what it’s like to have complete faith and trust.
Don’t miss the next two passages that continue to point back to Jesus’ regard for children:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:6
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven Matthew 18:10
From children to brothers and sisters, Jesus seems to make the point that we should be acting like a family. What a concept! Chapter 19 expands the audience to include husband and wife in discussing divorce. Jesus is pretty clear here:
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6
Marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman, it was designed that way from the beginning. Our society doesn’t see it that way, but clearly we should. Don’t forget, this lesson is long after Jesus said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28
This is directed at men because it’s the men who are trying to skirt around the issue at hand. Husband: keep your eyes on your wife! I wish I could say I wasn’t guilty, but that simply wouldn’t be truthful. I’m so glad Jesus forgives me seventy times seven times!
Continuing the theme of family, Jesus addresses those who refuse to let go of the wealth they’ve been given in the parable of the Rich Young Man. Family matters to Jesus, it should matter to us. That’s often easier said than done, especially as children become adults, but it is something we need to take seriously. Peter gets it, but wonders how it works out in the end. Jesus assures Peter, and all of those who are truly willing to be followers:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29
The key phrase in the passage above is, “for my sake.” It’s not about walking away from something, it’s about being called to something. I believe Jesus is pleased when we honor our marriage and follow His ways, when we love our children and offer them to God with open arms, and when we try our best to model His words with our extended family.
That’s a lot to consider this morning. I hope you have coffee!