Tag Archives: Disciples

Peter’s Denial

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Luke 54-60 – Parallel Passages: Matt. 26:31-35, 69-75; Mark 14:27-31, 66-72; John 13:37-38; 18:15-18, 25-27

Peter may be the leader of the group of disciples but he represented every person in his actions at Jesus’ arrest. Do his arrogant boasts of following Christ to prison and death represent all Christians? Do his rash reactions, like swinging a sword and cutting off the ear of one of the people who came to arrest Jesus, represent all Christians? Does his running away when confronted by the world represent all Christians? Peter, and the other disciples, abandoned Christ, just as He said they would. Only Mark and Matthew tell us Jesus’ disciples ran away in fear. “And they all left him and fled” (Mark 14:50 ESV; see Matthew 26:56). Jesus had already predicted that those who were with Him would scatter. During His last the Passover celebration He taught them about Himself and the coming of the Holy Spirit. He was leaving them and going back to His Father.

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:32-33 ESV)

Jesus also tells them that their abandoning Him was prophesied long ago. “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’” (Mark 14:27 ESV; see Zechariah 13:7). Zechariah wrote his prophecy over 500 years earlier. Jesus does not condemn His disciples for what they will do but encourages them to not allow their fallen nature to overcome them. He tells them to take heart for He has overcome the world.

Peter, and those with him, will run away. We must be honest with ourselves, we would probably run away also, under the same circumstances. I would probably run away. One of characteristics of the fallen nature is the tug and pull away from righteousness even when the image of God within drives toward Him who is righteous. We are afraid of the world and have such little or nonexistent faith in God that when the world rears its violent head we may fight for a moment but eventually flee. No one, in and of themselves, is strong enough to stand against the force of the world directed by the venomous lies of the Deceiver. Only God is strong. We do not overcome the world. Jesus overcomes the world. We must be driven to the place where we recognize His strength in us under His control. This is what happens with Peter and the other disciples.

Once Jesus was arrested Peter and John followed at a distance. We assume John went because John records what happens. John is known to the High Priest and helps bring Peter into the courtyard where Jesus is being interrogated. Three times Peter is asked about his relationship with Jesus and three times he denies knowing Him.

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. (Luke 22:54-60 ESV).

Three times in an hour, Peter denied knowing Christ even though he was the leader of the disciples. Two things happened. Jesus who was enduring the derisive grilling of those who hated Him turned and looked at Peter. Jesus knew Peter was there because Jesus was aware of everything that was happening and that would happen. “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62 ESV). When Peter realized what he had done he broke down and wept. He saw the emptiness of his boasting and his actions grieved him.

Our sin and the realization of the consequences of our sin, should drive us to grief. But the life of the Christian does not stop with grief and mourning. Peter did not fade away but became the leader of the Church, the Body of Christ. Peter may have momentarily abandoned Jesus but Jesus will never abandon him, or us. Though Satan asked to sift him, and God gave Satan permission to do so, Jesus still prayed for Peter and told him what to do once the trial was over. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV). Peter would live out his life in faith doing exactly what Christ instructed. Peter would strengthen all those who follow Christ throughout the ages.

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The Presence of the Master

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Matthew 14:31-33

It would seem to most Christians that Jesus said this little phrase often. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 ESV). Jesus uses a word translated little faith, which means one who trusts too little, or small faith. He uses this word six times in the Gospels. The word is a combination of two words, puny or short and faith, or the conviction that something is true, to believe and trust.

On a previous occasion Jesus and His disciples were going across the same lake. A storm arose and began rocking the boat while Jesus slept peacefully in the stern. How could anyone sleep in a small boat with 12 other people during a storm? Jesus had complete peace with God and was unafraid because He knew He was in no danger. The men rowing, however, were deathly afraid. Those of the twelve who were fishermen knew the sea and the violence they faced because of the natural elements of wind and rain and rough seas. They were afraid for a reason. So, they woke Jesus, asking Him to save them because they thought they were going to die. “And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:26 ESV).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about believing God will take care of those who are His. God cares for His creation and people are much more valuable to Him than the other things He created. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30 ESV; see also Luke 12:28). God provides until He calls into eternity.

On another occasion, the disciples, who were hungry, discussed why they had forgotten to bring anything to eat. Jesus had already fed 5,000 and another 4,000 people. He provided life, more than bread and food ever could. “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?” (Matthew 16:8 ESV).

Faith is the conduit through which God delivers the tools needed to obey Him to those who are His, who live in a world rebelling against Him. Through faith His disciples could do the impossible. After Jesus transfiguration, He and three disciples came down the mountain to a scene where the other disciples could not heal a young boy possessed by a demon. Jesus quickly cast out the demon. His disciples asked Him why they could not do what He had just done. His answer is a mild rebuke. “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 ESV). Jesus had already given them authority to cast out demons (see Matthew 10:1). They rejoiced that the demons obeyed them. Why could they not cast out a demon here? Because of little faith.

Faith is vital to a growing relationship with God. Jesus shows He is God every time He does a miracle, heals a person of a sickness or casts out a demon. Jesus has dominion over His creation. “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased” (Matthew 14:32 ESV). Jesus also fulfilled prophecy found in the Hebrew Scripture.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.(Psalm 107:28-30 ESV)

All of the evidence tells us Jesus is God who came as a sinless man and walked and lived and died among a people. Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest evidence that He is God and that people must obey His word. Faith is taking Jesus at His word. For a moment in their lives, after a great fear, seeing a great deed, one of many in a long line of times of fear and seeing great things, they believed and had faith. Abraham had a moment of faith and God blessed him, counting His faith as righteousness. “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6 ESV). Abraham’s faith was for a moment, during a lifetime of rebellion. When Jesus entered the boat after walking on water the disciples worshipped Him. “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:33 ESV). Worshipping anything other than God is idolatry. Jesus accepted their worship. God had, once again, shown the disciples that their teacher, Jesus, was the Son of God.

Peter’s Bold Request

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus walked on the lake during the storm, in the early morning, acting as if He would pass them by. His disciples thought He was a ghost and were afraid of what they saw. “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (Matthew 14:27 ESV).  When Jesus spoke to them, they did not recognize Him, even as He walked toward them in the early morning light because they were not expecting Him to walk on water. He told them to take heart, that is, to cheer up and be courageous. Then He commanded they not fear Him or be alarmed at what they saw.

At first, Peter did not believe he was hearing Jesus speak. He uses the word if, the same word used by Satan during Jesus’ temptation. If is part of an “if-then” statement. Logically, if and action is true then its consequence is also true. If you put your hand in a fire then you will be burned. If you jump into the lake then you will get wet. So, Satan demanded Jesus prove His divinity. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3 ESV). If you really are the Son of God, feed yourself because you are hungry. Do a miracle. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down” (Matthew 4:6 ESV), then your angels, whom you command, will come rescue you. Satan then suggests that it owns the world and can give it to whomever it pleases. “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9 ESV). If you worship me then I will reward you. In each instance Satan challenges Jesus’ divine power. It knows who Jesus is and, in typical rebellious fashion, sought to undermine and destroy Jesus’ authority.

Peter was not sure it was Jesus. He could see Him and hear Him. Peter had seen Jesus perform miracles. But, his natural self was unsure.  “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28 ESV). There was no intent to undermine Jesus’ position or authority. Peter needed proof Jesus was there. If it is you, then I, too, can walk on water. Peter didn’t want to be afraid. In normal Peter fashion, he went to the extreme. He was learning that Jesus never asked people to do His will. He commanded they obey. When Jesus called Peter and the others, He did not ask them to follow Him. He commanded they follow Him. When He healed people and cast demons out of people, it was by His command. Peter, knowing this, asked Jesus to direct him to walk on water. He knew he could do the impossible only at the direction of God.

Jesus called Peter to come to Him and, like the call to follow Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish, Peter immediately complied. “He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29 ESV). None of the others asked to get out of the boat and follow Peter. Only Peter exited the boat and stepped out onto the water, walking toward the Man he served. Peter walked on water.

But then Peter became distracted by his surroundings. He, the fisherman who intimately knew the lake, saw the danger of the lake and became afraid. He was not afraid of Jesus. He was afraid of the world. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (Matthew 14:30 ESV). Peter doubted that he could actually do that which he was doing. He did not doubt Jesus. He doubted himself. He took his gaze off the One he followed and focused his attention on the impossibility of the action in which he was engaged.

Peter began to sink. He’s knows how to swim. The seas are rough and wind is strong. He had been doing the impossible. His fear stopped his faith. Faith is believing the evidence of the work of God, trusting the object and obeying the command. Peter saw Jesus walk on water, trusted that he, too, could walk on water and obeyed the command to walk on water. Then, he stopped believing and trusting Jesus and was unable to obey. Jesus didn’t change. His trustworthiness was not compromised. He commanded Peter do the impossible so His direction was not unreasonable. Peter’s faith ceased, he became afraid, and sank. If he had drowned it would have been because of his unnecessary fear and panic.

Jesus reached out and saved Peter from a situation that was neither dangerous or unreasonable. “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31 ESV). Jesus recognized Peter’s faith became distracted and useless because of his doubt. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus recognized Peter’s leadership and constantly challenged him. He groomed Peter, holding him to a high standard. He holds all those who follow Him to the same high standard.

Jesus Walking on Water

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Matthew 14:22-33

What seems impossible to us is easily done by God. God may give us visions of great things, followed by a command to carry them out. Most often, we talk ourselves out of doing anything because of the enormity of the task and our lack of faith in God. Either that, or we are just lazy and don’t want the work. However, some may begin to work, in their own strength. And then the great things envisioned become impossibilities, surrounded by impossible circumstances. What is impossible for us is merely commonplace for God. He places us in impossible times so we will rely completely upon His strength and not upon our own, and so we will know He has accomplished the task through us.

There are a number of stories found in all four Gospels. One of those stories is the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus asked His disciples to feed the crowd of people who had come to hear Him teach. “They need not go away; you give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16 ESV; Mark 6:37; Luke 9:13; John 6:5). After miraculously feeding the five thousand, Jesus sends away His disciples in a boat and He climbs a mountain to pray. Coming down from the mountain, Jesus sees there is a pounding storm and high waves on the lake. His disciples are fighting in their boat against waves that are tossing them around. “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary” (Matthew 14:24 ESV). Peter, Andrew, James and John are there, experienced fishermen, who intimately knew the lake and the weather that roiled the waves and the sea.

Daylight is coming. The fourth watch of the night is just before sunrise. It is no longer dark and the disciples can see in the gloaming light the fury of the storm. They also see Jesus walking on the lake. Or, they see something coming toward them on top of the water. In the natural world, following the natural laws emplaced by God, all objects not designed to float will sink in water. Boats, designed by people to float will sink when the structure is damaged and no longer does what it was created to do. Some birds, created by God, sit on top of the water and swim, floating and moving about. What the men saw was a shape of an object they knew was not designed to float.

Gripped by fear of the unknown, they thought they were seeing a ghost. “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:26 ESV). This troubled them, agitated by the fear of the unknown and anxious for their own safety. They were superstitious, thinking what they saw was an apparition or specter, a ghost or phantom. A ghost is the essence of a person after they die. A dead person was approaching them and they dreaded the encounter. Contained in a boat on rough seas, far from shore, they had nowhere to run or escape from that which was approaching them.

Did they not know their Master? How He looked? How He walked? His mannerisms and shape? Jesus was walking on the water, doing something their minds could not conceive as possible. But, hadn’t they seen Him do miracles? Had He not just fed over 5,000 men, and women and children, from a pitiful, handful of bread and fish? Jesus was doing the impossible. They still did not know who He was, though all the evidence pointed to His being the Creator of the world.

When Man, Adam and Eve, was created, they were given dominion over the earth. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). Dominion means control, to rule over and tread down.  Just as God had control over the universe, He created Man as His authority to have control over the earth, not just over those living things on the planet. The whole of the planet was under their authority and control.

Jesus’ walking on water was an exhibition of His authority and control over the earth. He, who is eternal God, came as a physical Man, having all of the qualities and characteristics of man the way God originally intended. Jesus was a Servant of God being found in the form and likeness of a man. “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV). He walked on water because He was in control.

Arise, O LORD!

Meditations on the Psalms

Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God!(Psalm 3:7 ESV)

This is the cry of a person in physical and emotional distress, whose hope and help remains only in God and is nowhere found in self or the world. They are desperate, for they have reached the end of their abilities, have exhausted their resources and have nothing left. They are hopeless and helpless, on the verge of depression and complete emotional breakdown.

Arisemeans to stand, to come upon the scene, and also means to confirm, ratify and establish. Again, the writer uses God’s proper name of because of their intimate relationship. He could be saying “Stand up, God, and impose Yourself. Show Yourself mighty and able to protect.” His cry is for God to save and liberate Him from those who hate and revile Him and give Him victory over their rebellion.

Jesus prayed in a garden on the night He was betrayed. He took with Him His closest friends, eleven of the disciples. Judas was not there for he left earlier to betray Jesus and gather those who would ultimately murder Him. Jesus asked His remaining disciples to stay awake and pray with Him. They did not stay awake and pray because they were sleepy. It was the middle of the night, the time to sleep. They did not have the discipline to stay awake even a short time. Plus, they were under spiritual attack. “And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’” (Matthew 26:40-41 ESV; see Mark 14:7, Luke 22:45). His mild rebuke could not keep them awake for they fell asleep again as soon as He walked away to pray.

What was Jesus praying? Jesus felt anxiety as He faced crucifixion. From eternity, before Jesus’ incarnation, He knew this historical moment would come. He knew what He had already decided to do and its outcome.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.(Luke 22:41-44 ESV)

Jesus knew, in His nature as a true man, His servant nature, that He was going to be tortured to death. It is not death which causes fear but the manner in which a person dies. He felt agony,which is severe mental and emotional anguish, a struggle for victory, because He knew the cost. He sweated huge drops as He wrestled with the knowledge of emanate torture and death. Did He need more strength than He already had? Luke tells us an angel appeared from heaven to strengthen him. Jesus was truly Man the way God intended and God in flesh. He did not sin but experienced all of the emotional and moral tugs and pulls of the flesh.

Then Judas, the disciple and friend of Jesus, arrived with a band of soldiers to arrest Him.

Jesus was not afraid to walk to His death because He knew the resurrection followed. Jesus finished what He started because of His love for God and for those He created in His image.

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. (John 10:17-18 ESV)

Jesus cried out to God. Only He could save Him from absolute separation. Jesus carried the judgment and sentence of all so that all might be saved. His burden is heavy and beyond measure. Only He could bare such a weight.

 

 

Unafraid

Meditations on the Psalms

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.(Psalm 3:6 ESV)

Jesus faced both great acclaim and heated opposition throughout His earthly ministry. Those who hated Him included the Deceiver, who did everything possible to frustrate, obstruct and stop His ministry, and the religious leaders of the nation. These religious leaders hated Jesus because He challenged their authority and position of leadership over the people. In addition, the Roman’s hated anyone, not particularly Jesus, who might incite the people under their dominion to rebel against Rome and the emperor.

Those who opposed Jesus were not just politically or religiously motivated. There were many who simply did not care about Him. Or, they cared about His words and ideas for a moment but when He confronted their covetous attitude toward what they considered their stuff, they would turn their backs upon Him and walk away. They cared more for their place in the world than their place in eternity.

God tells us to not be afraidof those who oppose Him because Jesus was not afraid of them. Afraid means to dread, fear, stand in awe, as well as to have reverence and to honor. To setthemselves against means to station, to take a stand, to lay waste, fix their mind in opposition to whatever Jesus represents or commands be done. Those who are hostile toward the authority of the King of kings, either actively fight against Him or passively ignore Him. In either case, their actions, or inactions, destroy the foundation of the relationship they have with God.

We have already seen those who mutiny against God will come to a physical and spiritual end. Their defiant words and works are judged and they are sentenced, then separated from God, the Giver of life. His judgment is a completed action from eternity, yet still works out in space-time history. For God it is done. For those living in the world it will be done but is not yet completed. Jesus was not afraid to stand before the religious leaders, Herod and Pilate, because He foreknew the outcome. He willingly endured the torture of crucifixion because He knew the final and absolute results brought the greatest glory to God.

During Jesus’ ministry, He chose and trained twelve disciples. These disciples, whom He also called apostles, were given responsibility to exercise authority in His name. “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matthew 10:1 ESV; see also Mark 3:13-15, Luke 6:12-16). As Jesus trained them He was forthright in telling them what they would face and endure. Their and our temptations and trials are myriad and used to test. God does not test anyone to discover what they know. He tests so we can discover what we do not know, especially about Him. Throughout our training we are His and there is no reason to fear.

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:26-31 ESV; see Luke 12:4-7)

Jesus’ disciples, throughout history, whomever they are and whenever they live, stand before those in worldly authority and give testimony about Him. Instead of removing us from the world He leaves us to declare, through words and actions, the evidence of His grace in the gospel. He also leaves us in the world to train and fit us for eternity. Being a Christian in the world brings trails and persecutions. The thinking of our hearts is on full display before the world and before God as we face the same opposition Jesus endured.

Fear is both debilitating and freeing. When we fear we can see that which is in the thinking of our heart. Fearing the world tells us we do not trust God and want that which the world offers more than what God gives. When we fear God, by honoring Him as Creator, placing Him first, then nothing we encounter in this world can potentially or actually remove us from His presence.

Punishment

Meditations on the Psalms

You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:9 ESV)

Those who rebel against God face His judgment. Those who teach others to rebel, and lead them in their rebellion, face total annihilation. There is no wiggle-room in God’s courtroom.

Both to break and to dash them in pieces means to shatter to a point of destruction. That which is broken cannot be fixed and becomes useless. This statement is a direct answer to Psalm 2:3. “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” There is no hand strong enough to burst the bond, nor arm great enough to cast away God’s cords. God created people a particular way, giving them a nature and placing them within a universe of laws and boundaries which they cannot breach. Seeking to break the laws of nature has deadly consequences. Breaking the moral laws of God implanted within human nature as the image of God, has eternal, damning consequences.

Jesus is adamant about the effect of sin on people. Knowing temptation to sin comes naturally, because of the rebellion of the Deceiver and the corrupted nature of people, He still singles out special condemnation for those through whom the temptation is delivered.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, 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.

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And 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. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:5-9 ESV)

Jesus’ disciples discussed among themselves who the greatest was in the kingdom. Such a question is arrogant and ignorant. They were speaking to Jesus, the Son of God. They had seen His works and heard His words. He is the King and the greatest in the kingdom. What earthly king would allow one of his counselors to ask such a question without quick and sure discipline and retribution. But Jesus did not come to hold Himself up. He came as a Servant, because that is His nature. Instead of pointing to Himself, He placed a small child in front of His disciples and told them “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4 ESV).

In Psalm 2, Jesus uses a parallel illustration to thrust home His point. Sin is judged harshly. God rains down His wrath upon those who cause sin and teach others, especially children, to sin. It would be better for the person who taught and led a child into sin to commit suicide than to finish instructing their student to the place the student becomes a teacher. It would be better to perform radical, maiming surgery than allow oneself to become enslaved by sin. Cut off your hand or pluck out your eye if either leads you to sin.

The implications of His teaching about sin is startling. Jesus is saying nothing in the world, nothing we do or want or desire is more important than God. To allow something which has no eternal value to control our lives and dictate our relationship with God is to rebel against Him. It is better to live a short life in extreme poverty with no hope of worldly success or continued physical survival, and know God, than to live in abundance and not know God intimately.

Either the person who follows God and His Son discipline themselves or God will discipline them. Either we give up the world and gain eternity or we give up eternity with God and watch the world fade away to non-existence when we face God at judgment.

This statement is a warning for those who teach and lead people to sin. You face total annihilation, your life and works become worthless, and your existence is consigned to a place away from the absolute source of life, which is God. Beware.