So just what is the main idea of Matthew 18? We looked at the first several verses last week, about how people abuse their spiritual authority, and then we looked at the use of verses 15-17. But I wanted to take a little rewind back to verses 11-14 before we look at Peter's question.
Matthew 18: 11-14,
"11For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12How 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?
13And 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.
14Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
He is clearly talking about finding lost sheep, not converting wolves into sheep. His heart is reaching out for the lost little lambs. He wants them to come back and be reconciled. Is his main objective to bring these lambs back to be in subjection to man or to God? Is this passage of scripture all about bringing people into unity among themselves or in unity to Christ our Lord?
I think about the story of the Prodigal Son. After he took his inheritance and spent it all on riotous living, he came back home. If you read the passage you will see that when the father saw him 'afar off' he immediately began the celebration preparations. All before he heard any apology and he never made him jump through any hoops to be received into the Father's arms. Such grace! It's the power of the love of Christ our Lord that brings about this kind of reconciliation.
If the arm is seeking to make the knee submit and be in unison with itself, then that is out of balance. As a Body we are all subject to Christ our Lord. This is the thing that really grieves me is to see the members of the Body seeking to make people submit to them instead of to our Lord. If we all humble ourselves to Him, then we automatically become at peace with one another. So how do you know if someone truly has come into submission to Christ? The love of Christ will permeate through them. Real genuine forgiveness is not one that brings back past sins that were already established and forgiven.
Jesus speaks of a relationship in Matthew 18. The most prominent relationship he speaks of is us with the Father, through the Son. Now let's look at the verses following 17.
In Matthew 18:18-2o he says,
"18Verily 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.
19Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"
When we come into that spiritual realm of prayer we are entering his throne room in the spirit. We were told in Psalms to "enter his courts with praise." What we speak to him in the heavenlies, we bring into the earthly. When he explained to us in verses 15-17 he was saying that by two or three witnesses. These witnesses are to have the heart and mind of Christ in this endeavor. The focus of these witnesses is to bring glory to God, not a person. Their goal should be to enter His courtroom with praise, seeking reconciliation among the brethren to be in subjection to Christ our Lord. There are many people who say they are doing things and praying in the name of Jesus, but it must not be in vain. We need to be sure, absolutely sure that we are acting in His true and genuine name and with is genuine heart. If we don't he will have serious words for us one day,
Matthew 7:22-23, " 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
In applying Matthew 18 we must be sure we have the mind and heart of Christ our Lord. We need to be absolutely positive that we are seeking reconciliation with our Lord and to be united in Body to the Head, which is Christ our Lord. Be warned not to use God's name in vain, we are not to misuse His name for our own agendas.
Sisterlisa is a homeschooling mom of four children and married to a ministry leader of a Rescue mission. She is the owner of Growing in Grace Magazine and AGMinistries.