Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Monday after the Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Posted on October 29, 2018 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Matthew 18:1-22 (NKJV)
18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! 8 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
The disciples were swept up in “kingdom fever.” They were going to overthrow the powerful Romans and establish the all powerful Kingdom of God. And they thought the ones who were Jesus’ favorites were going to receive the most powerful and honorable positions next to Him. The disciples were like little children. It had probably been brought about by the fact that they had just been with Jesus when He was transfigured on the mountain, but only Peter, James, and John were given the honor of witnessing the event on the Mount of Transfiguration. So, it probably became apparent that there were some “inequities” within the group of the twelve. Then Jesus explains to them what true greatness was in His kingdom.
Peter, James, and John were in an inner circle with Jesus that the others weren’t. Among all the disciples, Peter does seem to be the head. He does seem to speak for the rest of the disciples on several occasions. After Peter, James, and John, perhaps a sort of second tier or level existed with Andrew, Philip, and Matthew or Thomas, and the rest stayed in the background. Did their staying in the background make them the greatest? Or were Peter, James, and John the greatest of the disciples?
Does leadership or prominence make one great? Well, yes and no. There is a way that leadership and prominence in the group does make one “great.” Leadership makes you visible and responsible. It brings with it greater dangers, and greater recognition. But it is humble service and faith that truly make one great.
We pray: Lord, make us faithful like little children so that we may truly lead. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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