1 – Matthew 18:1-5 (ESV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,
RAF: Greatness in the Kingdom is not like it is here. Here, greatness revolves around giftedness, lineage, exploits and station. There, greatness is bound up in trust, humility and utter dependence. Those who in the most faith, live simply and confidently as His dear ones.
2 – Matthew 18:6-9 (ESV) 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
RAF: Two sets of questions arise here. 1. What am I doing or saying, that would hinder in any way someone else’s trust in Christ’s love, confidence in Him and His finished work, obedience to Him, or humbleness before Him? Better to die first than be so engaged. 2. What am I thinking, listening to, exposing myself to, engaged in that undermines in myself absolute trust in Christ’s love, confidence in His person and finished work, obedience to Him or humbleness before Him? Away with it! No matter how dear, pleasurable or valuable it seems to be – away with it.
3 – Matthew 18:23-35 (ESV) 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
RAF: This parable is specifically aimed at those who imagine that God’s grace in salvation means they can be forgiven of their sins, and yet remain in them. This is a lie. While the Gospel of free forgiveness is to be proclaimed to all, not all who claim to live in its promises do so. Those who know the burden of their sin and its offense against God Himself, who seek forgiveness for the purpose of reconciliation to Him, and not merely to be forgiven the penalty, only to flee back to their sins – those are the ones who are saved. Many a man wants forgiveness of the debt, but cares not one wit to be restored to his right relationship with his Master, and then to live a life that proclaims the greatness of his Master’s grace. Such ingratitude is shocking even in the world. Such little impact after the receipt of such mercy is unnatural. It reveals an unchanged heart. A heart still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. Let that one not imagine he has salvation if this is the case. He does not.
4 – Matthew 19:8-9 (ESV) 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
RAF: Some interpret these verse so as to say God granted divorce to Israel to accommodate the sinful desires of some. This would be most strange indeed. It would be as though one said: “I am a serial rapist and cannot control myself due to the hardness of my heart”, and God replied: “I will make a law then that serial rapists are not to be charged for their sin, after all, it is due to the hardness of their hearts.” At once we see the folly of such an interpretation. The sense is, that because there are some, whose hardness of heart leads them to such an extreme that they would even violate the most basic, most sacred covenant of marriage – God gave to the innocent party a means of relief – that they might leave and be married to another who is faithful. Divorce is not license to the wicked, it is relief for the ones sinned against.
5 – Matthew 20:23 (ESV) 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
RAF: At this moment, He let them sip from His cup. His cup, is absolute trusting submission to His Father, without regard for position or recognition before others. His cup is love, poured out for others. His cup is self-denial, not self-gratification. His cup is to rest in the Father’s wisdom and eternal plan, not to engineer things for His own gain. His cup is sacrifice.