In Chapter sixteen we are forced to contemplate the identity of Jesus. Peter makes the first assertion that Jesus is, “the Christ, Son of the Living God.” Towards the end of the chapter Jesus promises that some of his disciples will see Him coming in His kingdom before they die! At the beginning of the very next chapter they do exactly that as they see Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. This spiritually high event is followed by a low as the disciples are unable to heal a boy by casting out a demon. Jesus challenges their faith and tells them this kind only come out only by prayer and fasting. There is no presumption in casting out of demons, it is an utter and complete dependence on God.
Chapter eighteen centers on the topic of forgiveness. Often it is easier to see the sins of our brother than it is to see our own sin and so we condemn them and write them off as being purely evil… while we enjoy the pleasures and benefits of being God’s servant.
However, Jesus says you can’t live that way. You can’t write someone off for their sin against you. He didn’t write you off. He went to the cross for you and so for the sake of forgiveness and reconciliation the least you can do is walk across the room and lovingly confront the wrong (notice I said lovingly).
It’s easy to hate someone in their wrong doing. You can count the tears, the lives affected, and try to put a value on the pain… but then again Jesus didn’t chose the to go to the cross for you when you were lovable. Don’t pretend like your sins don’t cost too.
You see we don’t forgive because we are commanded to and that is the end of the story. We forgive because we are forgiven. When you realize your debt before God and what lengths he went to to absorb your debt against Him… well then that bit of unforgiveness in your heart just looks plain silly.
The power to forgive isn’t in you… The power to forgive comes from God alone. You see all sin is ultimately gets paid for… Either in your soul for ever in Hell, or Jesus on the cross. At the end of the day all of us answer to God. He is the only one who judges our hearts right.
Matthew eighteen also addresses church discipline. Church discipline is always done in love and in the hope of restoration. Lot’s of folks often quote Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered there I am also” in prayer gatherings. While it is true that Jesus is where his people are, this verse is in reference to church discipline. It can be such a tough matter to put someone out of the church that it helps to know that when great steps have been taken to restore and individual and they are still unrepentant, that Jesus is there. Trust me, if you have ever had to walk through the heart breaking steps of seeking restoration only to be met with a hardened heart over and over, It is comforting to know that Jesus is in your midst.
Here is how I am praying through this passage today:
LORD, Thank you that you have made yourself known to us and that we can know you! I pray for my friends who don’t know you yet, and I pray that they would come to know you and trust you soon. I pray that I would continue to trust and depend on you. I thank you for disciplines like prayer and fasting that lead us closer. I pray that whenever sin enters into our relationships that we would seek forgiveness. I pray that I would be quick to repent when I have sinned and quick to forgive those who have sinned against me. I pray for those who are sinning and unrepentant. I pray for families who are being torn apart by sin. I pray for your church to love those who are falling away. Thank you for the calling you have placed on my life to shepherd your people. I pray that I would be faithful to you and accountable to others in every area of my life. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.
What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.