Introduction: Jeffrey Brauch, the former Dean of the Regent
University School of Law, is one of the most amazing men I have ever
met. His focus always seemed to be on me when we spoke. When I speak
with others, I regret that my focus also generally seems to be on me.
I’m sure Jeff is just like that with everyone – his focus is on them.
Jeff lives what Matthew teaches this week: to live a life of concern
for others. Let’s dig into our lesson and learn more!
- Read Matthew 18:1-4. Who has the most definite opinions on
child raising: parents of several children or people who
do not have children?
- Are the children you know naturally selfish? Do they
prefer themselves over others? (From what I’ve seen,
children are like the rest of us – born into sin.)
- If that is true, what is Jesus talking about?
- Re-read Matthew 18:1. Why would someone want to be the
greatest in a kingdom? (So they can rule over others.)
- What about children is unlike that? (Young children
are very dependent. Even if they have other bad
habits, being selfish as an example, they need help
and they know it.)
- Look again at Matthew 18:4. What, then, is Jesus telling
us about our character development? (That we should humbly
depend on Him – just like a child depends on his or her
- Read Matthew 18:5-6. How does this related to Jesus’ point
about children being dependent? (Since they are dependent,
adults have an obligation to make sure that we properly
teach and treat the children in our circle of influence.)
- Read Matthew 18:7. Have you ever heard someone who is
profiting from evil say, “If I didn’t do it someone else
would. I might as well be the one who makes the money from
- What is Jesus’ answer to that? (“Woe to you!” evil
will come, but it better not be through you.)
- Read Matthew 18:8-9. Does sin begin with your hand, foot
or eye? (No. It beings in the mind.)
- How, then, do you understand what Jesus is saying?
(Jesus is pointing out the seriousness of sin. People
sin for some perceived advantage. Jesus says it would
be better to lose something important than to sin.)
- Read Matthew 18:10. Is Jesus jumping around in His
comments, and has jumped back into talking about children?
(Jesus is on the same topic. Children will encounter sin
eventually, but it better not be through you.)
- Read Matthew 18:12-14. You have probably heard the parable
of the ninety-nine sheep and the one that was lost. What
is Jesus’ point in that parable about children? (In many
cultures children are not valued. In some cultures they
are used. Jesus teaches us that they are of great worth –
every one of them.)
- Read Matthew 18:15-17. What is the goal of treating
differences and problems in this way? (The goal is getting
the person to listen to reason.)
- What does it mean to treat someone as a “pagan or a
- Is it okay to treat pagans differently?
- The Church
- Read Matthew 18:18. We discussed the issue of taking
disputes to the church. How important is the decision of
- Let’s go back and read Matthew 16:18-19. When we studied
that a little while ago I spiritualized it by saying that
those who understand that Jesus is God and accept Him are
“loosed” and those who reject Him are “bound” in heaven.
Was I wrong? (This new context shows that I did not go far
enough in the practical application. Jesus tells us that
the church is given spiritual authority on earth.)
- How far does this authority go? Can the church change
the day of worship? Can the church swap Jesus for
another mediator? (The context in Matthew 18 is
disputes between church members.)
- Read Matthew 18:19-20. How big must the church be to have
the kind of authority we have been discussing? Will a
church of two be enough?
- As you sit back and contemplate these texts, what do
you think is Jesus’ essential point? (Heaven works
through us. God delegates authority to us.)
- Does this have anything to do with Jesus’ previous
discussion about children? (Jesus teaches us to be
humble and dependent on Him. That informs the extent
of our “authority” here. Our authority must be an
accord with Jesus’ revealed will. This means that the
church should not be handing down edicts that
contradict central teachings of God. Because we have
this authority, we need to be very cautious how we
- Read Matthew 18:21-22. The only way to be sure we have
seventy-seven times is to keep a record. Is this what
- Read Matthew 18:23-30. What is your reaction to the man
who owed millions not forgiving the man who owed a small
- Read Matthew 18:31. The observers were distressed, just
like you! Is it because the small debt guy was not
forgiven seven times much less seventy-seven times?
- Read Matthew 18:32-33. What does the master say is the
problem? (Mercy. It is not counting that Jesus commands,
it is having mercy on those who seek forgiveness.)
- What is the benchmark for forgiveness in your life?
(Jesus died on your behalf for your sins. Your sin is
against God. We are affected by sin, but breaking
God’s law is a sin against Him. We are the servant
who has been forgiven “millions.”)
- Read Matthew 18:34-35. What is Jesus’ warning?
- What does it mean to “forgive … from your heart?”
- Read Matthew 19:3-6. Does Jesus believe in the creation
account? (He believes in it so firmly that He bases
spiritual conclusions on it.)
- Read Matthew 19:7-9. Do you think that it is an accident
that this discussion of marriage immediately follows the
discussion about forgiveness?
- How does the discussion about marriage shape our
understanding of forgiveness? (If a spouse was always
to forgive the other spouse, then we would have no
divorce. This shows us that mercy is informed by
God’s plan for marriage and for life.)
- Could a spouse forgive “from the heart” the
unfaithfulness of the other spouse, but still divorce
for unfaithfulness? (Yes. Forgiveness does not mean
that you abandon common sense.)
- Read Matthew 19:10. Later in this chapter Jesus says it is
hard for a rich person to be saved. Read Matthew 19:25.
What do Jesus’ disciples think about His teachings? (They
are astonished. It does not seem right to them. It does
not fit their understanding of God’s will.)
- Read Matthew 19:11-12 (marriage) and Matthew 19:26
(wealth). What is Jesus’ suggestion for teachings that are
hard to understand and follow? (That God will work with us
to make seemingly impossible directions possible.)
- Read Matthew 20:1-12. Do you agree with those who are
complaining? Put yourself in the place of those who worked
- Read Matthew 20:13-16. If Jesus is teaching us a lesson
about the Kingdom of Heaven, and not wages, what is the
lesson? (God is not looking for merely fair. He is that.
But, He is more than fair. He gives us what we deserve,
and He gives us more than we deserve. He makes the
- Friend, God cares about you. He cares about dependent
children. He calls on us to be a blessing to others,
rather than just seeking what we think is fair.
- Next week: Jesus in Jerusalem.