Sunday, December 10, 2023

Who is the Greatest? (Part 4)

By Clifton Angel
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! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:7–9).
    “No man is an island.” This common phrase illustrates the principle that mankind is interdependent, interactional, and influential. Generally speaking, we cannot live without community and we cannot live without affecting and impacting others in some way. Therefore Jesus says, “It must needs be that offenses come” (18:7). Because we live in a world of sinful people who are interactional, it is simply a fact that occasions of causing another to stumble (sin, offense) will, and does, take place.
    Because of sin and being influenced by others to sin, woe or sorrow is pronounced upon the worldly. Furthermore, woe is pronounced specifically to the one who causes another to sin. With this, Jesus makes application to the fact that sometimes members of our own bodies (hand, foot, eyes) can cause us to sin. With our hands, we might choose to steal, brawl, murder, et al. With our feet, we might enter places we do not belong (Proverbs 4:26–27). With our eyes, we might lust to the point of sin (1 John 2:16; Matthew 5:27–28). With great hyperbole, Jesus impresses upon His disciples the need to do whatever it takes to avoid sin. I do not believe Jesus wants us to mutilate our bodies; however, He does want us to understand that sometimes extreme measures must be taken to keep ourselves faithful and free from sin.
    Considering the context of the apostles arguing over the false concept of ranking positions in Jesus’ kingdom, as would be seen in an earthly kingdom, Jesus saw fit to remind them of rudimentary principles he had been impressing upon them from the beginning of His ministry (cf. Matthew 5–7). All are able to learn better from these principles and ingrain them into their lives; yet, they are such that we must be reminded over and over (cf. 2 Peter 1:12–13). The apostles who argued over physical position would go on to learn better and live better, and one such apostle left us these words:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:15–17).

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

No comments:

Post a Comment