Week 6: The New Testament and Children
Day 2: Simply Scandalous – Matthew 18:6,9
Understanding what Jesus truly meant when He spoke of receiving children has an enormous effect on the next few verses of Matthew 18. (Look back here.) It is amazing how many times I have heard each of the first three sections of this chapter taught separately and how rarely I have heard them linked together as they should be.
Beginning in verse six we see what Jesus said should happen to those who do not receive these children but who instead offend them. It is even more dramatic than what Job said should happen to him if he had failed to care for the fatherless and the poor. (See this and this.) Jesus said, “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.” (vs. 6) Wow, Job just said his arm should be broken from the shoulder blade; Jesus said we should be drowned.
The Greek word here translated as “offend” is the word from which we get our English “scandal”. In both languages, it means to put a stumbling block in someone’s path. It is to do something to cause someone to sin. This, we think, is something none of us would ever do, however, one more aspect of the word should be considered before we make that conclusion. Jesus says, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me”. This word “offend” carries with it the connotation of causing “a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey.” So the question becomes, Are we doing things that would cause these children to distrust God?
“How?” You might ask. “How would I, could I, ever be guilty of that?” Sadly, it is easier than any of us might think. How will we encourage them to follow the Lord if on the one hand (for example) we say that Christians are to be caring for the fatherless and yet we do nothing? This is just one example, many areas of the Christian walk are prone to this scandalous behavior. Children see right through hypocrisy, especially when it is directed toward them. That leads to them doubting not only the Christian but also Christ. Whenever we live contrary to the Word of God while at the same time encouraging others to live by the Word of God, we will eventually turn them away.
Jesus goes on not just to say that offenses will come but also to grieve over it, “Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” That term “woe” is an interjection signifying grief. Basically Jesus is saying the circumstances of life and the sin in this world make it certain that offense will come. Fact – People will cause others to stumble. Although it be certain, Christ still pronounces grief upon the one who causes the offense. He even goes so far as to say, If your hand or foot or eye cause the offense, cut them off, pluck it out. It’s better to go into life without them, than to be cast into hell fire.
So, are we going around scandalizing the fatherless, or are we stepping into their lives and receiving them as Christ taught us to?
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption