What did I learn about Jesus?
- It is natural for Jesus to leave the 99 to search for the 1 who is lost (verse 12).
- Jesus is concerned that we practice forgiveness.
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- Jesus gave plenty of practical instruction, including how to deal with sin-related conflict (verses 15-17).
- We need to take the eternal, kingdom of heaven perspective on life.
Extended thoughts and observations from elder, Steve Maxwell and Pastor Mark:
From Steve Maxwell: In this chapter Jesus defies being constrained to measurements, limits, rankings or being put into a box. He is asked a couple of direct, closed ended questions: who is the greatest?; and how many times should I forgive my brother? These were direct questions that may have been asked in an attempt to package Jesus’ teachings into a more familiar, earthly paradigm with rank orders and limits. If Jesus answered these questions as the disciples would have liked, they may have thought it would have made His teaching more easily understood, more familiar, more easily consumed, more comfortable, more common to their way of thinking. Of course Jesus answers the questions in a way that flips their way of thinking upside down.
I like the way that Jesus refuses to be constrained by limits and boundaries and pushes us to let go of our earthly perspective and vales and to take a kingdom view where humility, our heart condition, and grace are valued. This is a good perspective to me as I tend to think in terms of finish lines (forgiven enough, done enough) and rankings (this person is greater), etc.
From Pastor Mark: One part of Matthew 18 that jumps out for me is verses 15-19, one of the two most important relationship sections that Jesus ever taught on. This is the pattern: Got an offense? Go FIRST to that person. NEXT take a witness. THEN take it to the church. If we did that instead of criticize or complain to others, it would revolutionize our relationships and clean up so much of the relational garbage in the church. Add to that Matthew 5:23-26… it is the perfect pair. Matthew 18 is for when WE have an offense against someone. Matthew 5 is for when we remember that someone else has an offense against us. Either way—our offense or their offense—WE TAKE the initiative to make it right.
Convicted of this, I reached out to someone who I realize has an offense against me and am starting a process of reconciliation. I have no idea how it will be received, but my call is to be obedient.
I am LOVING the interaction you folks are offering in God’s word. Keep it up.