Our passage this week includes Matthew 18-22.
It seems that Jesus has completed His ministry, now it is time to head towards Jerusalem and Calvary. The emphasis in chapter 18 centers around understanding the Kingdom of God – what Jesus is actually going to establish versus the people’s ideas. It becomes very clear that holiness is a must for the people of the Kingdom. So much so that it is better to maimed then to enter in with corrupted body parts.
Jesus uses the illustration of the Child numerous times. The disciples have several times denounced the “insignificant” child from bothering Jesus. Jesus must be seen as a lover of little children. Their innocence and pure love for him is refreshing in comparison to the agenda driven religious leaders and even the disciples. Matt 18:10, could be used to make the case for guardian angels of the little children.
Discipline within the body of Christ is necessary. However, many churches do not address sin in their midst. Matt 18:15-20 is the biblical formula for taking care of faults and restoring and/or removing fellowship of sinning church family. I have heard Matt 18:20 used so many times, I often cringe when I hear it used, for it is often used to support God hearing our prayers because two have gathered in His Name. This view does not fit the context of the passage. The purpose of the passage in correction and restoration. In other words when we come together to discipline with biblical counsel, Jesus is affirming our action being taken in the body of Christ. The continuing emphasis on forgiving follows to the end of the chapter. The reference to two or more gathering in His Name is in reference to doing the work of God, through the power of God, with the agreement of God.
In Matt 19 – Jesus brings up the children again, still the disciples don’t get the Kingdom mindset. The Kingdom isn’t for the socially accepted, but for those that often are rejected by the religious and the churched! [Matt 21:31] Jesus uses the parable literary genre to prove His case about conditions in the world. The Laborers in the Vineyard, speak clearly how we are people are greedy and want more than others. The rewards of God are grace and truth. Just because God has been gracious and called us to labor in His field longer, does not give us seniority over others that have come later. I find this often in churches, who feel that they are more deserving just because they have been members longer and that their way should be the right way. Both last and first have been treated graciously by God. We don’t deserve anything – God doesn’t owe us!
In the Triumphal entry, Jesus is not on a mission for coronation, but condemnation of the religious leaders. His parable of the Landowner clearly is an indictment to the Pharisees and Sadducees treatment of the prophets who came before. In Mt. 21:45 – they finally understand that Jesus is speaking of them, hence the desire to kill Him. Their attempts at tricking Him with topics about which there isn’t any relevance just shows their denial of the truth spoken by Jesus and the treachery to condemn and undermine His popularity with the people. [Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, yet ask a question about it]
Matthew 22 is a sad chapter for three times people were invited to attend the wedding feast of the King’s son. The had received the invitation, they were reminded of the event, and when the day actually came, they declined. This is a parable about Israel – the people of God. Jesus was the final opportunity for the people to return to God and serve Him, but their denial/rejection resulted in a the Kingdom being given to another people. [Matt 21:43-44]
Hearing the truth isn’t always freeing, often it is convicting and condemning. If truth is rejected by people we will become treacherous towards anyone who thinks otherwise. Truth cannot be destroyed by a lie, no matter how many accept the lie.