Unity in Christ Jesus
Matthew 18:1-14: Jesus instructs his followers about entering the Kingdom of heaven and about avoiding temptations to sin. Today’s reading concludes with the story of a shepherd who searches for a lost sheep to emphasize God’s vigilant love and care.
Who Is the Greatest?
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
2 So Jesus called a child to come and stand in front of them, 3 and said, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. 4 The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. 5 And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.
Temptations to Sin
6 “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea. 7 How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen—but how terrible for the one who causes them!
8 “If your hand or your foot makes you lose your faith, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life without a hand or a foot than to keep both hands and both feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye makes you lose your faith, take it out and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
10 “See that you don’t despise any of these little ones. Their angels in heaven, I tell you, are always in the presence of my Father in heaven. 11 [a]
12 “What do you think a man does who has one hundred sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go and look for the lost sheep. 13 When he finds it, I tell you, he feels far happier over this one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. 14 In just the same way your Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost.
Today’s Key Verse: Matthew 18:4
[Jesus said:] “The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.”
Children were considered a gift from God because they cared for older parents and carried on the family name when the parents died. Yet children had little power and were to obey their parents completely. Jesus used children as an example to show that being powerful is not the way to get into God’s kingdom; what God wants is obedience. What is your understanding of Jesus’s words that we are to humble ourselves and become like a child (verse 4)?
Lord Jesus, grant me a childlike faith and teach me to obey your teachings with a humble heart.
In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Matthew 19:13-30: Jesus blesses little children and urges a rich young man to give away his possessions.