Jesus heals, teaches on forgiveness, then talks about who the greatest is in the Kingdom of Heaven (Journeys 35-36)

Jesus is journeying from a “high mountain” to the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi as we read in Mark 9:14-29; Matthew 17:14-21; Luke 9:37-43. While the faith of the three Disciples was strengthened while on the mountain (Transfiguration), the faith of the other nine who were on the plain below was failing. They were not able to cure a boy who suffered from sudden fits that were uncontrollable.

After the experience on the mountain, Jesus felt frustrated of working in the midst of so much failure. However, He did not despise the uncertain faith of the boy’s father, to which He quickly healed the boy.

The reason the Disciples had failed was their lack of faith. What they needed was not a large amount of faith necessarily; however, they needed the right kind of faith. They needed a faith that relied upon the unlimited Power of God that was expressed through sincere prayers

What we can learn here: We must not hesitate to bring our children to Christ, but we must not hesitate also to have faith. We have to trust in His Power, for it can overrule satan’s power. We must always rely upon the unlimited Power of God through our prayer unto Him, so that He can work in the way that is necessary.

Jesus paid temple tax

We are reading now in Matthew 17:24-27, where Jesus journeyed from Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum. The annual temple tax was a half-shekel per person, according to Exodus 30:11-16.

Jesus was staying at Peter’s house in Capernaum, when Jewish officials came to collect the annual temple tax. Jesus told Peter and the Disciples that they did not need to pay the temple tax any longer, for now that He had come, the Temple at Jerusalem lost importance. God dwelt in the new “Temple.” They were now God’s People, and just as a king does not collect taxes from family, neither does God collect from His Family! The Jewish officials did not understand this; therefore, rather than create a misunderstanding (and further issues), Jesus pays the tax.

Jesus teaches here: We must sometimes deny our worldly interests rather than giving offense to His Will. This tells us again to deny ourselves so that we can acknowledge His Kingdom and His Will. Instead of giving our money up to the world continually, we need to submit it to the Kingdom of God and support the continuation of it! Nonetheless, this does not tell us to avoid paying taxes, but rather, we need to keep to that duty to avoid troubles and penalties.

Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Now, we turn to these Scripture: Mark 9:33-37; Matthew 18:1-5; Luke 9:46-48; John 13:3-17. The Twelve contest as to who shall be the greatest under the Messiah’s Reign. Jesus set a little child in the midst of them and declared that His subjects must be childlike.

The Disciples argued amongst themselves of who is most important in His Kingdom. Jesus reproved them and explained that the way to spiritual greatness is through choosing the lowest place and serving others. To enter into the Kingdom of God, people must humbly accept that they have no more status than a child does. Receiving Christ does not have to do with power or prestige; however, those who receive it should receive it as they would a small child.

What can we learn here? Many people speak of privileges, glory, power, etc., but unless we are all willing to become like small children, they could not enter His Kingdom. Children do not desire authority, regard outward appearances, are free from malice, are teachable, and are completely dependent (willingly) upon their parents. Therefore, those of lowly mindsets are sure to receive God’s Kingdom, and with joy nonetheless!

Then John is corrected…!!

We are now going to read in Mark 9:38-50; Matthew 18:6-14; Luke 9:49-50. If people desire to be His Disciples, they should not despise those of weak or insignificant dispositions. They should also take away things that cause them to follow their own desires instead of submitting to Jesus, because foul desires prevent people from receiving Jesus as they only lead people to hell. God will test and cleanse the Disciples, unless they want to be useful for Him in leading people to Jesus. They are instructed to cease from quarrelling and make sure that they are pure in heart. Jesus’ Disciples should have a loving concern for the weak, the helpless, and the lost. No one should have to miss His Salvation!

What does He teach? Those that want to be His Disciples must humble themselves to help others, must help Jesus in spreading the Gospel of Salvation, and cease from anything that does not bring glory unto Him.

70 * 7: Teaching on forgiveness

We now go to Matthew 18:15-35 where Jesus taught on forgiveness. Jesus teaches the Disciples of forgiveness. The Disciples of Jesus should be willing to forgive fellow believers that sin against them; however, they should also be concerned that wrongdoers recognize their sin and turn from it.

In each case of forgiveness, a believer should go to the wrongdoer privately and point out the trouble so that the person might be spiritually helped. If it fails, two or three others should be called upon to help; first to be sure that the offender is guilty, and second to appeal for reconciliation. If this also fails, the entire community of believers should appeal to the wrongdoer. If there is still no change, believer should excommunicate the offender from the fellowship, nonetheless still desiring the person’s repentance and restoration.

God has given each of His People the responsibility to forgive and deal with these cases. If they are confident their actions carry His Authority, they would not act hastily or out of a personal preconception. If they pray about the matter, they will receive His guidance and help. Peter then asks how many times to forgive someone until they take severe action against the offender.

Jesus replied that not seven times per Peter’s suggestion, but seventy times seven (meaning unlimited). Believers do not take severe action as an alternative to forgiveness or out of spite, but rather, as a concern for the offenders’ spiritual good. It does not matter how many times people do them wrong, they should forgive them.

To illustrate further, Jesus tells the story of a king that forgave a servant of a huge debt; however, the servant then refused to forgive a fellow servant of a small debt. When the king heard of that behavior, he withdrew his forgiveness. The lesson here is that God will not forgive people that do not forgive others.

How we should learn this: We should follow all of Jesus’ teachings here on forgiveness for they are important for everyone. We must forgive others for the wrong they have done to us so that Father can forgive us for what we have done wrong. It is important to forgive people no matter how many times we are done wrong, because this is what God would do for us! We should be gracious as He is!

Jesus’ followers expected to give up all when they follow Him

Jesus is talking about the means of giving up things in order to follow Him, as we read now in Matthew 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62. Three men come to Jesus, asking to be Disciples, to which, they did not realize the sacrifices they would have to make in following Him. The first one was told to think seriously about his intentions, because following Him would bring hardship physically including discomfort. The second person was warned that responsibilities to Jesus should come before worldly ones. Those that are spiritually dead, that is, those who are only interested in this life, can look after everyday life.

However, the Disciples of Jesus have to attend to the more important business of the Kingdom of God. The third man was warned that Jesus’ Disciples must give themselves to Him completely, because there is no place for those whose real interests are elsewhere.

Jesus teaches: As Jesus taught in the Parables of the Kingdom of God, one must be willing to leave all He has behind for the Kingdom of God. If one is unwilling to do so, they cannot be His Disciple. If a person’s interests are elsewhere, they cannot focus properly on doing the Lord’s Will.

Even if people try to convince us to perform miracles just to make themselves look good, attract popularity, etc., we should avoid doing so, because we are trying to point to God, not to ourselves. This is what Jesus was symbolizing is that it isn’t a matter of trying to prove who He is, but that He would let people believe as they wanted to so that He could focus on doing the Will of the Father!