Day Twenty-five: Friday, July 10th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 18:1-20
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“One, two, three”
In the space of just 20 verses our Lord will teach us much about heavenly number theory.
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
One…Jesus brings one little child and has the child stand among his disciples. The disciples were human. There is a human tendency to want to be first. The disciples asked Jesus who is the greatest. We know from other similar encounters the disciples had an all too human concern with who was number one. In answer to their question Jesus brings one little child and has the child stand among them.
What follows are words from our Lord about humility, about becoming like a child, about welcoming a child, about serious consequences for not welcoming the little ones in our world, about taking drastic measures to assure we are not ones who fail to welcome the little ones.
What follows is a story about one…one lost sheep.
Two…two brothers…in this case two brothers in faith, brothers in Christ…two brothers have a conflict. The number theory of our world would say divide. Split. Separate. Take sides. Fight. Argue. Battle. Jesus lays out a plan for the two to remain two, to remain in relationship. Jesus lays out a plan for conflict resolution. Rather than being limited by this basic plan for conflict resolution, creative Christians have taken these bare essentials and expanded upon them to form very helpful forms of conflict resolution, conflict resolution that seeks to find positive restoration for strained and even broken relationships.
Three…The agreement of brothers and sisters of faith, that coming together, a coming together that seeks not to be great but rather the coming together in humility, that coming together of a community that recognizes one little one, a community that tirelessly works toward resolution and restoration so that two can remain two instead of splitting, dividing, and separating into different factions, when two on earth agree…that type of agreement is powerful, even binding. In this type of community Jesus promises to be present. “Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”
It turns out this is not just a heavenly number theory. This is not merely theoretical. This is practical. Jesus really does want his children to learn these numbers, one, two, three. These numbers literally count. Together they lay the foundation for Christian community. I guess you could say these numbers add up to a body of believers who love one another as we have been loved by God.
“Matthew goes beyond Mark (Mark 9:33-37) not only by making the child a model of humility but also by urging disciples ‘to become little’, namely, before God. That this requires a turnaround in life is said by Jesus’ words explicitly (‘Unless you turn your lives around…’). According to Jesus not the significant one, the important one, the esteemed one who ‘in the
world’ is considered great, but the little one, the unimpressive one, the one standing in the background and in the shadow of the mighty ones is the person whom Jesus considers great…Jesus wants no Great People in his church; only disciples.” (Dale Bruner, The Churchbook, p. 635)