The Greatest in the Kingdom of God
Matthew 18:1-6 (Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48)
(1) At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (God)?” (2) Jesus called a little child to him and had him stand among them.
(3) And he said, “I tell you the truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (God). (4) Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (God).
(5) “And whoever receives such a child in my name receives me. (6) If anyone causes one of these little children—who believe in me—to sin, it would be much better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and be thrown into the deep sea to drown.”
Jesus’ Warning About Sin
Matthew 18:7-9 (Luke 17:1-2)
Jesus said, (7) “How terrible (woe) for the world because of the temptations that cause people to sin! It is necessary that temptations will come, but how terrible for the person through whom these temptations come!
(8) “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is much better for you to enter eternal life with one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire. (9) And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. For it is much better for you to enter eternal life with one eye than be thrown into the fire of hell (gehenna).”
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Matthew 18:10-14 (Luke 15:3-7)
Jesus said, (10-11) “Make sure that you do not mistreat one of these little children. For I tell you the truth: Their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
(12) “Tell me what you think: If a man owns 100 sheep, and one of them wanders away and gets lost, will he not leave the 99 sheep on the hill grazing and go to search for the one that is lost? (13) I tell you the truth: When he finds the lost sheep, he is happier for that one sheep than for the 99 that were not lost.
(14) “In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want one of these little children to be lost (to perish).”
When People Sin Against You
Jesus said, (15) “If your brother or sister sins against you, go in private and tell them their sin against you, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have restored your relationship with them.
(16) “But if they refuse to listen to you, take one or two other believers along with you, for as it is written in Deuteronomy 19:15, ‘Let every matter be settled by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ (17) If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
(18) “I tell you the truth: Whatever you bind on earth will have already been bound in heaven, and whatever you set free on earth will have already been set free in heaven. (19) “Again, I tell you the truth: When two believers 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 believers gather in my name, there I am with them (in their midst)!”
Matthew 18:21-22 (Luke 17:3-4)
(21) Then Peter came and asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times must I forgive a fellow believer who sins against me? Do I have to forgive him up to seven times?” (22) Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth: You must not just forgive a fellow believer seven times but 77 times.”
The Parable of an Unforgiving Servant
Jesus told this parable (story): (23) “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven (God) is like a king who told his servants to pay back all the money they owed him. (24) As he began to settle his accounts, a servant who owed the king 10,000 talents (about 20 years’ wages) was brought to him. (25) Because the servant was not able to pay, the king ordered that he and his family and all that he owned be sold to repay his debt. (26) After hearing this, the servant fell on his knees before him, begging, ‘Please be patient with me, and I will pay you back everything I owe you.’ (27) The king showed mercy toward the servant and forgave him his entire debt and let him go.
(28) “But when that servant left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 denarii (about a day’s wages). He grabbed him and began to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay me back all that you owe me!’ (29) His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Please be patient with me, and I will pay you back everything I owe you.’ (30) But he refused to forgive him his debt. Instead, he had the man thrown into prison until he could pay his entire debt. (31) When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very angry and went and told their king everything that had happened.
(32) “Then the king called the servant in and said, ‘You are a wicked servant! I forgave you of all your debt because you begged me. (33) You should have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you.’ (34) In his anger the king handed him over to the jailers to be punished, until he paid back all he owed.
(35) “This is how my Father in heaven will treat each of you unless you forgive your fellow believers from your heart.”