The Lord Jesus is here teaching his disciples humbleness, He speaks of his own, and his Father's good pleasure, for the salvation of everyone of his little ones. The Chapter is closed in a parable.
"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? (2) And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, (3) And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (4) Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. (6) But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
It is more than probable, the disciples, looking forward to a temporal kingdom, of their Master, (for it is most certain at this time and long after, they thought of no other; see Acts 1:6.) had often been parcelling out for themselves, some of the highest departments in it. Mark 9:33-34. Hence the method our Lord took to correct their error, was as gentle and affectionate, as it was wise and conclusive. Among the old writers, it was conjectured that this little child, was Ignatius. But there is no warrant for the conclusion. This ancient father hath indeed, in his Latin Epistle to the Church at Smyrna, said, that "he saw Christ in the flesh, after his resurrection:" but this doth by no means warrant the former account of his being the child, which the Lord set in the midst of his disciples. But it is very blessed, (and the Reader I hope will not lose sight of it,) on what the Lord places the truest qualification for an entrance into his kingdom; namely, the conversion of the heart to God. For this proves an union with Christ, in the regeneration of the soul by God the Holy Ghost and to offend one of Christ's little ones so regenerated; by despising them as Christ's, and to make light of the Spirit's work in their heart, subjects the despiser to everlasting misery. John 3:3; Galatians 4:6; Matthew 10:40-42.
"Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (8) Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. (9) And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (10) Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (11) For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (12) How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? (13) And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. (14) Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
Every word here is so plain, as to need no comment; and so blessedly spoken by Christ himself, as would be injured by me. I only beg to observe, upon the whole, what a charming thought it ought to be, to the humblest and poorest of Christ's little ones, while upon earth, that those who minister to them, as their angels, are always in the view of beholding the face of God in heaven. Hebrews 1:14. And let the Reader further observe upon this sweet and precious passage, that so earnest is God our Father, for the present and everlasting welfare of Christ's redeemed ones, that none of them, no not the least of them shall perish! Oh! the safety of the whole Church of Jesus! Isaiah 27:2-3; John 10:27; Joh_10:30.
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (16) But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (17) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. (18) Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."
I pray the Reader to remark, the affection Jesus insists upon, to subsist between brethren. And indeed as they are members of Christ's body; brethren of Jesus, and of each other; one spirit moves in all. 1Co 12 throughout.
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
To the little infirmities, which from the remains of indwelling corruption, may, and will, occasionally break out, how precious is the direction of Jesus. Oh! that it were more generally adopted in the Church of Christ! And what an unanswerable argument doth the Lord here leave upon record, for the constant meeting together of his whole body, both in private and public ordinances. Zechariah 2:5; Zec_2:10-11; Matthew 20:28.
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? (22) Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (23) Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. (24) And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. (25) But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. (26) The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. (27) Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. (28) But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. (29) And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. (30) And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. (31) So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. (32) Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: (33) Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? (34) And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. (35) So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses."
It was blessed for the Church, that God the Holy Ghost put it into the mind of Peter, to ask this question, which gave rise to one of the most beautiful Parables of our Lord; and which, no child of God would have lost for a world. The parable itself, in its first plain and obvious sense, represents the boundless mercy of the Lord, in cancelling a most enormous debt, even ten thousand talents; which, counted by our English coin, would amount to no less a sum than fifty-four millions and upwards, of our money. A sum almost incredible! But what sum can represent the greatness of our mercies! What insolvency come up to the insolvency of sin! But I confess, I cannot explain in my view the parable of our Lord, in reference to this spiritual sense of it, unless with certain limitations.
The kingdom of heaven is well known to mean the Church of Christ in the present dispensation. The parable saith, that the Lord of this kingdom, that is, Christ, would take account of his servants: that is, his people, his Church, his chosen. Not the whole world: For though by creation the earth is the Lord's, and all that is therein; yet here the Lord is speaking of his redeemed. The one brought to him in debt is the representative of all. And his debt was so great, that the everlasting slavery of himself, and all the race to which he belonged, could never cancel the debt nor pay it. In this state, the Lord forgives him. Now the debt forgiven could never be recalled. His cruelty to his fellow-servant, horrible as it was, could never unsay what his Lord had said. Neither is the pardon of our sins suspended upon our pardon of others. But the sense of the Parable seems to be this: How truly undeserving must be all those who are made partakers of the rich, full, and free salvation of God, who in the view of their ten thousand talents forgiven, are unkind and unforgiving to their fellow creatures. And in this sense the tormentors, to whom the unforgiving servant was delivered, will be a source of disquietude to his mind, as long as the conscious sense of his ingratitude shall remain. But though this must be agreeably to the whole tenor of Scripture, the general sense of the Parable; yet we are not authorized to strain the sense of the Parable too far. The general scope of our Lord's meaning by it, is evidently this; to shew, that as we hope for mercy, we are supposed to shew mercy: and the consciousness of sins pardoned in Christ should prompt us, and will prompt the heart of grace to be merciful to everyone who bears the image of Christ, and to forgive from our heart, everyone his brother their trespasses.
How truly blessed is it to have our hearts brought under divine teaching, and made like the simplicity of a weaned child. See my soul in the instance of these disciples of Jesus, how much our minds are wedded to the concerns of this world. Oh! for grace to be converted, and become as little children, that we may be truly great in the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed Lord Jesus! may I never lose sight of this promise that thy presence is eminently manifested in the assemblies of thy people: for sure I am, that all the beauty and glory; all the power and efficacy; all the success and blessing, which can be derived from ordinances, can only be derived, because Jesus hath assured his Church, that wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, there he is in the midst of them, and that to bless them.
Thanks to my dear Lord for this beautiful and instructive Parable, Yea, Lord! my debt was so great, in ten thousand talents as made me insolvent forever. In vain were it for me to say, Lord have patience with me and I will pay thee all. Never to all eternity, could I have done it. Oh! then add a grace more to the merciful forgiveness of all; and incline my heart to be merciful, even as my father which is in heaven is merciful! Precious Jesus! help me to imitate thee in all things!
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany