As Jesus’ time on earth drew short, he ramped up his effort to prepare his disciples for his departure and for their key roles in the kingdom. People so often want to feel important, thus their question. Jesus gently reprimanded their prideful approach by suggesting that greatness comes through humility and purity, like that of a little child. The very young are completely dependent on parents, and disciples should be completely dependent on the Lord. We are also dependent on one another.
Jesus then warns that every effort should be made to avoid sin. Make any necessary sacrifice. Avoid places and things that tempt. Be incredibly careful where you look. “It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown in the fire of hell” (Matt. 18:9). Sound extreme? Jesus does not want us harming our bodies but guarding our souls!
Guardian angels? Let us be careful to draw too much or too little from the passage. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). We should gladly acknowledge God’s supernatural assistance in our lives and leave the details to him.
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus teaches the value of every soul. Extra effort is needed to save some from their sins, and from wandering away again. God is so happy when a soul is saved.
How to settle personal differences? Start with only the other party involved and work for a solution. Then two or three others if necessary. Only in extreme cases is it necessary to involve the church in settling differences. God will hear our prayers for forgiveness, for ourselves, and for others (James 5:16).
The parable of the unmerciful servant warns us against being unreasonable when someone needs and wants our forgiveness. God has forgiven us of so much. How dare we be unforgiving to one another. We will be judged in accordance with our measure of mercy (Mark 11:15). Mankind is undeserving of God’s mercy. We are not worthy of his Son’s sacrifice (Rom. 5:6-8). And we may be undeserving of the forgiveness we seek from our fellowman. May God make us merciful.
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.