Matthew 18

This chapter is filled with punches. We will take a quick look at each section. A couple of things I want you to keep in mind are these. One, Jesus does not make light of sin, sin is a very serious thing we need to be mindful of. Two, God has a heart of mercy toward sinners. As I have mentioned before, as I write I also speak to myself as the Word cuts through my heart.


This chapter starts out with the disciples asking who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus very well knowing that their heart was filled with pride and selfishness calls over a child. He says, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” This does not mean that you must be a literal child to enter heaven. You don’t have to be some 3-foot-tall human being to go to heaven. What Jesus is saying is that you ought to be like a child in regard to how they depend on others. One commentator said, “Jesus makes this comparison not because children are supposed to be innocent but because they depend upon others and humbly accept what they cannot provide for themselves.” Is your heart filled with the sin of pride and self-righteousness? Then you will not enter the kingdom of heaven, but if you are humbly depending on the work and person of Christ alone you will enter the kingdom of heaven.


Just because we are saved by grace does not mean we have a license to sin freely without consequences. It can even be said that if we sin freely without true repentance that is enough to question our salvation. Jesus takes sin so seriously that he says it is better to cut off your hand or foot and to be crippled or lame than to be thrown into the eternal fire. This is not a literal command but an illustration that as Christians if we are sinning against God it is our responsibility and due diligence to put up guards against sin. God is Holy and as his people we are supposed to be striving for holiness, which means cutting off any avenue of temptation that leads us to sin against a Holy God. Do not play with the fire expecting not to get burned! If you do not put up any guards against temptation and find yourself constantly sinning, I would encourage you to examine your heart.


This is one of the chapters in which Jesus refers to church discipline. There are only two times Jesus mentions the word “Church” and both are in Matthew's gospel. One of them is in these verses and the other in Matthew 16. Jesus here is laying out the process for someone who is in the church but refuses to repent of an ongoing sin. The first step is to lovingly confront someone who you see in sin. If they do not listen to you, bring another witness or two (probably someone more mature than you) and try to reason with them about their sin. If they still refuse to believe you bring it to the local church. If they still do not repent, then the church should treat them as a Gentile and tax collector (verse 17). That means that they ought to be viewed as outsiders and not members of the body of Christ. Jesus is so serious about sin and about keeping his bride pure that someone who does not admit or repent for sinning against a Holy God acts as someone who does not profess Christ.


This section hits hard, especially with those who have been sinned against that have left a lot of scars. After Jesus talks about the discipline process Peter asks Jesus; how many times should I forgive 7? And Jesus replies to him “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Jesus is not saying forgive them a literal 77 times but as many times as needed. The parable that is presented here is to portray a representation of the great mercy and forgiveness that God gives to those who ask for it. I want to mention here something that can be confusing in these verses. I do not think that these verses are saying that if you do not forgive you lose your salvation (because it is not possible to lose your salvation). What I believe that Jesus is saying is that when someone sins against us and we do not forgive then we truly do not understand the depths of the forgiveness we receive from God. You and I have sinned against God 100 times worse than anyone has sinned against us. If God is able to extend mercy and forgiveness to us, but we cannot do the same to others who have sinned against us we should examine our hearts. John MacArthur says, “For never are you more like God than when you forgive and never are you less like God than when you will not forgive.” This is not easy but when we understand our deep sin against God and how much mercy and forgiveness we receive from him, we should be able to extend the same to others.


I intentionally left this one for last even though it is out of order, because through all that Jesus speaks about sin, what we see in this parable is God’s mercy toward those who are sinners. What we see is that a man with a hundred sheep will leave the 99 to seek the one that is lost. The concern for one sheep is not at the expense of the others. This parable is a portrayal of God’s commitment to each of his followers and his care and concern for each individual sheep. The 99 are safe because they are with each other, they are in the pack but the one that strays is in much more danger because it is alone and lost. The one that goes astray is the one the man goes after because he knows the dangers of a sheep that goes AWOL. But instead of letting the sheep go the man is intentional with seeking it out to bring it back to safety. That is how God cares for his own sheep. Verse 14 “So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” If you are in sin know that God is able and willing to forgive because he is merciful. If you are hiding sin, know that by confessing it and repenting it God extends his mercy toward you through the gospel of his son Jesus Christ.