I stand at the foot of the mountain and look up – I see a light, a light like burnished bronze shining above and behind the Mountain, growing in power – whiter and whiter – almost blinding.
“I am the Light – The light of the world – I have been the source of light from the beginning – My light is stronger than 1000 Suns – when I sent My Son to the earth I had to subdue the light around Him otherwise it would have blinded everything around Him. He held the light in Him, but humbled Himself so that it would not blind those around Him, that is why the darkness that followed his death on the cross was so significant – it represented, in the most graphic way My absence – My withdrawal from him. Yet when He rose again the light rose in Him – a new dawn – which would provide enough light for all eternity. That source of light would move through the world as my love was spread to illuminate every dark corner. You are sustained by it – receive it and live in it – because in it you are in Me.”
Against the background of the prediction of Jesus’ humiliation and death in the previous chapters, we are astounded at the lack of perception and arrogance the disciples display at the beginning of Ch 18. “Who is the greatest?” But stand back a moment. Is that not innate in every one of us? The desire to be appreciated? The desire to be seen as significant? We do all sorts of things which basically are saying look at me, am I not great?
Now as we enter the teaching of this chapter we can see what effect that attitude can have on the community of believers. The achievement of unity among believers is perhaps one of the most underrated intentions of Jesus. In John 13:34,35, He expresses the cardinal sign of true discipleship: “I give you a new command; love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”. Unity can only be achieved through the gospel and the levelling work of Jesus. The sign of unity among a large group of people in a world of self importance is a powerful sign of His work. One of the big failures of the visible church has been that they have not carried out this command consequently. Why? It seems that underlying all the breakdown and rifts in the church lies this striving to prove who is the greatest. A driving desire to assert self.
The great counter to this is to understand the importance of humility for every member of the kingdom. 18:4. Placing others before you as in Phil 2. We are to approach others with the attitude of a little child. Recognize the huge responsibility we have towards the health and growth of all the other little children. 18:6-9. Any sin that causes others harm (to stumble), needs to be dealt with a surgeon’s knife.
Read what Paul says in Ephesians 4:3; “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…..” How? “Be completely humble and gentle, be patient bearing with one another in love”. 4:2 That is the beginning of his application of all the doctrine that has come in the first 3 chapters.
Further down from 18:15 the refrain is taken up again as we are admonished not to just refrain from sinning against one another, but that we have a responsibility to seek to restore a brother/sister who has sinned against you. It begins with forgiveness but that needs to be demonstrated by a determined effort to restore the love bond that is necessary in the congregation. Friends this is big. Notice who needs to take the initiative? “If a brother sins against you,” don’t wait for him to come to you to seek reconciliation. You go to him/her and seek it. Difficult to do? Especially if someone has really hurt you? That is why it is such a sign of the authenticity of the gospel. Impossible without the power of the gospel.
That is why it is so important to understand the whole question of forgiveness. 18:21ff That Jesus tells a whole parable to demonstrate how our forgiving others is linked and flows from His forgiveness of our sins against Him which were far greater than what anyone could ever do against us.
Ultimately it goes a full circle and comes back to humility. To make sure that the reader understands the importance of all this talk on humility, there is the beautiful story of the lost sheep. That is what Jesus is seeking to do. To seek and find every lost sheep and our interaction as believers is a huge part of the potential attraction to the outsider. Yet time and again over the years the church has lost its way. Infighting, creating pressure groups, causing rifts, seeking to gather followers, has spoiled the view that the world has perceived of God’s kingdom.
What must i do about this? How do I apply this passage? The onus is on me to seek every means to contribute to unity. It all starts with humility. “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God” is a refrain that has been going over and over in my mind lately. That seems to be the starting point for me every day.
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