Jesus sets the standard for our treatment of children. Not just our own children but he makes clear his high esteem of all children by saying you’re better of dead than caught dealing unkindly with one of my kids
Matthew 18:5“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,a it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7“Woe to the world for temptations to sin!b For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hellc of fire.10“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.d
Prayer: Father, this is a hard passage for me to read. I know that I have and probably will be the cause of my children’s sin, and I’m so afraid that the actual severance of my hands and eyes would be of no profit. Lord you are God and you say that if any of us lack wisdom, we should ask You, who gives generously to all without finding fault. Well Lord, I lack wisdom. I need your grace because I have many faults. give me wisdom please God, look into your word and see your life as you have led me before.
Jesus sets the standard for our treatment of children. Not just our own children but he makes clear his high esteem of all children by saying you’re better of dead than caught dealing unkindly with one of my kids. I’m happy for this verse because it reveals that mysterious-jealous love of God that easily misunderstand, while at the same time crave. If there was any question over whether God actually is jealous in the way we perceive jealousy today–this verse should help explain the kind of jealousy God has. It’s a jealousy for justice!
God desires that his precious creation – revealed most innocently as children – are cared for and protected. When the opposite is done he is not merely sad, but vengeful! ‘You’re better off dead!’ he says to the abuser. On a more curious note Jesus even says that the phrase “in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father”. Barnes’ comments that this image is drawn from a legal background in his context, where those who the judge had particular favor over, were said to “see his face”, implying that children are under a special covering of protection from the Lord.
What’s most curious is the Jesus’ comments on dealing with sin. Interestingly, Jesus calls people to judge their own sin with strong sobriety and furthermore act upon it with serious harshness. He shows that it is of high priority to find the source of your sin and cut it out, without relent, like a scalpel to gangrene. The most curious part is that these comments on sin are not after, but amongst comments on our dealings with Children.
My guess here is that Christ is in agony. The disciples are thinking only of themselves (see verse 1), an attitude that Jesus is trying to beat out of them so that they might be focused on the bigger picture which will ultimately bring more glory than self glorification – the gospel. And in swallowing his frustration with them, he turns to a child and lifts them up. Suddenly all eyes are on the child and Jesus is overwhelmed with a jealous, vengeful love and compassion. He wants to show the disciples (who are delusional over self glorification) what really matters. Something they should be way more concerned with –> children! He goes on to pour out the Fathers heart for children and right in the middle he remind us to take our sin seriously… why? I’m thinking of two things he may have been trying to draw attention to.
1) The disciples needed a heart alignment. They were more concerned with there own glory than they were with the world of injustice toward children. Jesus, being God, could see not only the effects of injustice before him, but an entire history of the world of injustice. At this point his heart must be broken as he urged the disciples and those around him; ‘how could you possibly be thinking about the size of your chair in heaven while these precious children are being oppressed and abused daily?”
2) The disciples and those around at the time don’t understand the impact of their own sin. On children and ultimately the world. God himself does not will that the children should perish. It’s as if with every child born God weeps for the peril to come, knowing that men are more concerned with their glory than the proper care and nuture of his precious children.
That’s about all I have to say on this verse right now. I’d like to go on further, debating the practical meaning of cutting of your hand… maybe I’ll just do this verse again next time.
Prayer: Father. This passage makes me want to cry, trying to imagine the pain you must feel as you observe all the wrong in the world, while your people are more concerned with their glory and comfort, than yours in that justice is prioritized… Please forgive me of my failure to see the truth – that when I give myself away to care for that which you care for – you will not let me go hungry, nor will you treat your servant with malice. You are a good God! Loving even me, a hopeless sinner. You’ve given me hope Lord. Please give fill me with your Spirit that I might be pure in this world and give me all to you! PTL#!