Being Like and
Caring for the Little Ones (18:1-14)
Little Children (1-4)
the Little Ones (5-9)
the Little Ones (10-14)
A Brother Who
Has Sinned (18:15-20)
kingdom of heaven, little children, humble, in My name, sin, offenses, brother,
agree, seventy times seven.
1. Humility (4);
Love for those who seem insignificant (5,6,10);
Restoring those who sin (15); Forgiveness toward the offender (22,35). Taken as
a whole, the Lord’s discourse removes all notions of greatness in the worldly
sense. Being great in God’s kingdom requires humbling ourselves and denying any
sense of pride over others (20:26,27).
2. 5, 6, 10-14.
3. The little
ones in this passage refer to our brothers in Christ. We receive them, care for
them, respect them, and forgive them for the sake of Christ because they are
also members of Christ’ body (5) and are cared for by the heavenly Father (10,14). When we show our love and concern to them, we do so
directly on Christ (25:40).
1. They were
comparing among themselves and wanted to be the greatest of all Jesus’
followers. They wanted to have power and be served like the rulers of the world
(cf Mk 9:33,34; Mt
20:25-28). But such earthly desire has no place in God’s kingdom, whose
citizens serve one another rather than rule over others.
2. Their humility
(4), simplicity (11:25), and innocence (1Cor 14:20).
3. Humility. Just
as it takes humility to become like little children and acknowledge our inadequacies,
it also takes humble self-denial to receive someone who seems insignificant.
4a. When we cause
a brother to stumble, we are doing the very thing that God is not pleased with
(14) and we sin against Christ (1Cor 8:11,12). See
also General Analysis, Question 3.
4b. Such offenses must come because the world is evil and is
under the control of the evil one (“world” refers also to its evil desires; see
1Jn 2:15-17; 5:19). But it is a person’s choice that makes him a stumbling
block and instrument of evil. So he would be responsible for the offense.
5. Since the sin
of causing someone to stumble is so serious that it is punishable by
everlasting fire, we must do everything it takes to avoid being a stumbling
block. If we know that we have certain desires or weaknesses in us that would
lead us to sin, we must deny ourselves of such desires and eradicate them, even
if doing so causes much pain.
6a. Our brothers who have strayed and become lost spiritually.
6b. He takes care
of the weak and does not give up. He cherishes every soul and would do
everything to restore it from perishing. He rejoices when a lost one returns to
7. Since our
heavenly Father cherishes every soul, we should also do the same and do our
best to restore the brother who has sinned.
8a. Verses 15-17.
8b. Restoring our
brother with gentleness, patience, and love (cf. Gal 6:1; Jas 5:19,20).
9. From the
context, we understand the word “you” as in “sins against you” to refer to the
collective body of believers. Some manuscripts reads
“if your brother sins, go…” So this paragraph does not speak of personal
offense, but the offense that sin brings to the community of believers.
10a. We should point out their fault, not to disgrace them or set
ourselves above them, but to restore them with love. We resort to exclusion
only if all other means fail.
10b. The church has the authority to forgive as well as retain
sins. Here the Lord Jesus acknowledges the decisions of the church (19). See
also Lesson 24, Question 10.
11. The gathering
of people who call on the Lord and acknowledge His authority—namely, the
believers of Christ (cf. Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13; 1Cor 1:2).
13. We should
always forgive, and not even keep count of how many times we have done so.
14a. He was too
focused on his own petty loss and had forgotten the great mercy he had
received. His attitude goes to show that he did not truly appreciate his
14b. We need to forgive unconditionally because our Father has
forgiven us unconditionally and our forgiveness can never be compared to the
forgiveness we have received. If we think about how much we have been indebted
to God and how merciful He has been to us, we will no longer dwell on our
brother’s offenses. We also need to remember that Christ also loved him and
laid down His life for him. Then out of our love for the Lord, we will forgive
our brother for the sake of Christ (cf. 5; Col 3:12-14).
15a. Failure to
forgive is a mockery on God’s forgiveness. Not having compassion on our
brothers, whom God loves, means not loving God.
15b. What God looks for is a heart of compassion (33). Without a
heart of forgiveness, we would still harbor hatred, which easily turns into
bitter words and actions (cf. 12:34,35). Only if we
forgive from the heart can we truly forgive. Such forgiveness is a sign of
humility, which marks the citizens of God’s kingdom.