Home / Commentary / Matthew / Matthew Chapter 18
The disciples enter the house and Jesus asks them about who the greatest is in the kingdom of heaven? He holds a child and tells them that they must become like this humble child if they are to enter God’s kingdom.
Having taught about greatness in the kingdom, Jesus now teaches about failure. He teaches that becoming a stumbling block to little ones is an immediate disqualifier for the rewards of the kingdom. He compares becoming such a stumbling block to having a heavy weight tied around one’s neck and being hurled into the sea.
Jesus repeats a metaphor from the Sermon on the Mount warning His disciples that it is better for them to lose part of their body now and enter His kingdom, than to keep all of their body now and miss entering His kingdom.
Jesus warns His disciples not to dismiss or mistreat one of these little ones because their angels are always telling the King of Heaven how they were being treated.
In the context of showing how much these little ones mean to Jesus and His Father, Jesus shares that the very reason He came as the Messiah was to save them. He then tells His disciples the parable of the lost sheep as a depiction of His deep concern for these little ones.
Jesus teaches His disciples a practical way to help and confront a brother who has become ensnared by sin. It seeks to keep his reputation intact while offering him a chance for repentance.
Jesus reminds the disciples that they have been granted the keys of heaven to call upon God’s power to work in them as they proclaim His kingdom on earth, and they have the capacity to redeem things on earth for the kingdom in heaven. Jesus promises that His Father will grant them whatever they ask if even two followers ask and agree.
Peter asks Jesus where he should set the limits of his mercy toward his brother and suggested that he should forgive him up to seven times. Jesus said no, do not put limits on your forgiveness, and told Peter to forgive his brother as many times as needed without any limitation whatsoever.
Jesus tells Peter a parable to emphasize the importance of unlimited forgiveness. It is about how the king forgives an absurdly unpayable debt of one of his ministers when the minister begs for mercy. But this same minister is unwilling to forgive a modest debt that one of his peers owes him. He has the debtor thrown into prison. When the king learns of this unmerciful minister, he seizes him and has him thrown in prison until the debt is paid.
The disciples come to Jesus and ask Him who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He answers their question by telling them that the greatest in heaven will be like a child. He elaborates His answer. Christ states that the reason He was sent to earth was to save the lost, which meant showing forgiveness. The Messiah expects His disciples to do the same and teaches them how to confront a brother in sin. Peter asks Jesus what the appropriate limit is for offering forgiveness to a repeat offender. Jesus answers with a euphemistic hyperbole that indicates an unlimited number of times. He then shares a parable about a king who forgave a great debtor who would not forgive his own servant, to demonstrate that we should forgive others without limit.