The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Matthew Chapter 18: Read Here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/18?lang=eng
Jesus Has a Perfect Love for His Little Ones
‘At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying,
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
‘And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said,
“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 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”’ (Matt 18:1-6).
Further Thoughts: Why did Jesus liken little children to being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? They are like Him. They are innocent and pure, trusting and believing. So if we become converted and humble ourselves as little children, or submit our will to our Heavenly Father’s like Jesus did, then He will exalt us on high.
Jesus claims both little children, and those who become like them, as His little ones under His special care and protection.
Then Jesus proceeded to talk about offenses. Offenses will happen in this world, but Jesus pronounces a “woe to that man by whom the offence cometh” (vs. 7)!
So many nowadays think that they are not at all responsible for the injuries and hurts others feel as a result of their actions; nor, do they think they are responsible for other’s responses to their actions, words, or teachings. That is not so. The Savior will hold us accountable; especially so with someone who leads others astray from His gospel, or to those who abuse children; mentally, physically, sexually, or spiritually.
When Jesus tells us to cut off our hand or foot if they offend us, or pluck out our eye, what does He really mean? He says that “it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (vs. 9).
Further thoughts: We need to get rid of those things that cause offense to the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit within us. We need to repent and change those things which offend, getting rid of the natural man and becoming a new creature in Christ, bit by bit until we are willing and able to let go of evil and be entirely submissive to His will. We need to be especially vigilant towards His little ones, making sure that we are their protectors and that we do not cause them harm.
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (vs. 10).
It is of great comfort to know that little children have had, and will always have, place in our Father’s kingdom, without reservation or requirement, through the grace of God.
“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (vs. 11).
So many have thought that little children, who have not had the opportunity for baptism, are lost. It is not so. They are saved in Christ Jesus. Also, those who had become His little ones, but have been turned out of the way by offenses of those who would cunningly divert their paths, will again be found by our Lord.
“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (vs. 12-14).
Then the Savior teaches us how we should quickly resolve offenses.
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (vs. 15).
Further thoughts: We are not to gossip and spread evil reports about one another, but we often do. We should speak to each other privately and seek to be at peace with one another.
If the matter is unresolved, it may then require more witnesses and further attention due to the degree of the severity of the offense. The Lord tells us what to do next in verses 16 to 17:
“But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
That last part if for the church to decide, not us personally.
Verse 18 is interesting, if it is to be taken into context with the proceeding verses:
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
We should seek to make amends in this life!
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (vs. 19-20).
Further thought: If we are at one with each other, we can then be one with our Heavenly Father.
‘Then came Peter to him, and said,
“Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?”
‘Jesus saith unto him,
“I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (vs. 21-22).
Further thoughts: Should we keep count then? Should we be remembering offenses or looking for offense? How oft does the Lord forgive us? How often has He forgiven you? How often will He forgive me? Do we want to place a limit on a forgiving heart? Can we become like Him if we do?
Jesus then tells a parable of a king who forgave a servant a very large debt, because he had compassion upon him. But that same servant exacted a much smaller debt from a fellow servant; and, when he couldn’t pay, he had his fellow servant thrown into prison (See vs. 23-34).
Just as that “lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (vs. 34-35).