Resisting Faith in Jesus: Matthew 18:1-35
In the last segment of the previous chapter, Jesus spoke of his followers as sons of God, the King. This identification led Matthew to begin this portion of his gospel with a key question. As we read in Matthew 18:1:
Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Jesus answered this question by mixing instructions with illustrations and parables in four main parts. First, in 18:2-4, Jesus exhorted his disciples to live in humility as little children.
In the face of increasing opposition from his enemies, Jesus taught his disciples how to live in the kingdom of heaven as children of God. He knew that the future consummation of the kingdom had not yet arrived. And he knew that struggles against enemies and sin would be a part of life for God’s children.
And in verses 5-14, he taught them to care for the weak like their heavenly Father cared for his lost sheep. Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10, 14:
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones… [Y]our Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Jesus built on this idea in Matthew 18:15-20, where he demanded that his followers deal with each other as members of the family of God even when sin disrupted their relationships. And in verses 21-35, he insisted that they forgive the sinning “brother” the same way their heavenly Father had forgiven them.
God’s glory continues to increase in our own day, because God continues to do many mighty works and to grow his kingdom on earth. But just as in Jesus’ day, this often means that resistance to God is increasing as well. Thankfully, God gives us many precious gifts to help us in our struggles with hardships and temptations. Among these gifts are endurance and peace, and even his immediate presence with us. And one of the most special gifts is our relationship to God as our Father. God cares for us and protects us, and he understands and sympathizes with our weakness. And he also gives us a family of human beings that can minister to us and love us — the church, our brothers and sisters in the family of God.