The Cost: Matthew 19:27-30

The Cost: Matthew 19:27-30
“27) Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” 28) And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29) And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. 30) But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭27‬-‭30‬
There is a cost involved in following Jesus, especially for those involved in Christian service. Some leave family, friends, homes, businesses and dreams for the sake of the gospel. Each of the twelve apostles left much to follow Jesus. But it is impossible to out give God. He has amazing rewards for His faithful followers.
For the twelve apostles who left everything to follow Jesus, they have a special place in the Regeneration. They will rule and reign with Christ in His kingdom. They are the first fruits. But any who have sacrificed for the gospel will be rewarded.
When we get to heaven, there will be many surprises. Some who are famous and well know here will be obscure. Many who are obscure and unknown here will be held in honor and high regard in the kingdom. Many who we think are first will be last. Many who we think are last will be first. Don’t strive to be famous, strive to be faithful!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

True Basis of Salvation: Matthew 19:23-26

True Basis of Salvation: Matthew 19:23-26
“23) And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24) Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25) When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26) And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭23‬-‭26
This conversation between Jesus and His disciples is a continuation of his dialogue with the rich young land owner in the previous several verses. These verses have caused much confusion for some people. They believe Jesus was teaching that wealthy people are bad and cannot be saved.
That is not true. Many poor people also have poor ethics and values. Sometimes their plight in life is the result of slothfulness and poor judgement. Jesus was not saying that a certain social/economic status deserves merit or condemnation from God. So what was He saying?
First, salvation is based on faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ paying for our sins on the cross and not in any works of our own. Jesus was not making the selling of all earthly goods the basis of salvation.
Second, salvation comes from the recognition of personal sin and need. It forsakes self righteousness and recognizes it is impossible to be saved by self goodness, religious merit or personal status.
The rich man in this story thought he was good enough based on his own righteousness and merit to be accepted by God. This was compounded by the Old Testament teaching that “it is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich.”
Undoubtedly, his wealth was not gained by fraud, but by following the ways of God. He viewed himself like Job, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, David and even Solomon. God blessed these men greatly because of their fear of God and biblical work ethic. I concede, in his case, there was some merit to his confidence in his own virtue and goodness. God had blessed him.
Third, salvation involves humility before God to the point of acknowledging personal need and the confession of personal sin and lostness. This sincere act of humility is impossible for some people. They see themselves as truly good and righteous. They line up with Paul’s testimony of himself as a Pharisee in Philippians 3:4-6. I admit, there are some very devoutly good, moral, self righteous and religious people out there, but they are not good enough to save themselves.
The idiom of a camel going through the eye of a needle illustrates this point. Some religious buildings were built with extremely short doors that required people to get on their knees to enter as an act of reverence. These doors were referred to as “the eye of a needle.”
Of course these buildings often had another door for the priests, religious elite and wealthy dignitaries who could not get their cloths dusty or soiled. Their self righteous status gained entrance through the privileged door. It was the VIP entrance.
It became a common idiom in that region of Arabia and Palestine to express something nearly impossible as “a camel passing through the eye of a needle.” Its natural height, large humps and long neck made it nearly impossible. The saddle and all ornaments would have to be removed to make it possible. It created the picture of being totally prostrate, an intense struggle and utter desperation.
Jesus used this idiom as an example of what it takes for self righteous, good, moral, hard working, religious and thereby wealthy people to enter the kingdom of God. They assume they have already gained entrance to the kingdom of God through a very large VIP door with a red carpet that acknowledges and even praises them for all of their righteous deeds, acts of benevolence and religious merit.
What a shock to learn the kingdom of God only has only one door. These too need to humble themselves, being stripped of all self righteous deeds and religious merit and literally crawl as if destitute and naked through “the eye of a needle” into the presence of God.
Finally, Jesus closed this story by saying; “With men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Salvation is the work of God. It is difficult for devoutly religious and self righteous people to see themselves as sinful and lost apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, it’s easier for a camel to crawl through “the eye of a needle” than for prosperous devoutly religious and self righteous people to see any need for Jesus Christ and the gospel.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The False “god” of Wealth: Matthew 19:16-22

The False “god” of Wealth: Matthew 19:16-22
“16) And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17) And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18) Then he *said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19) Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20) The young man *said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21) Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22) But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭16‬-‭22‬
In this story, Jesus exposes the false “god” of wealth. It is important to note that He does not condemn the man for being immoral or ungodly. In fact, he was a very good, moral and religious man. He had consciously kept the Ten Commandments. There was much to admire about him.
It is a mistake to assume that all wealthy people are bad. To the contrary, people who accumulate wealth by applying biblical principles work hard, have good ethics and are often very generous. So what was the underlining problem with this man?
He had unconsciously made the pursuit of money his god. Wealth became the basis of his security. Self confidence replaced any need to trust in God. He had become prideful and self centered. His time, energies and attention were consumed by the accumulation of wealth. His identity was connected to things and not to God. For him, wealth translated to influence, power and value. He saw himself as better than anyone else.
But there was another problem. He was consumed by the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for things. (Mark 5:18-19) He had become like seed sown in thorns. He was choking on his own money. His life was consumed with worry, stress and anxiety. Hedonism is a very unhealthy life style!
What you own… soon owns you! Things cannot make you happy. The narcotic nature of wealth blurs a true vision of God, self and others. It takes control of your life. Wealth becomes an all consuming Master.
When Jesus challenged Him to divest of His wealth and follow Him, his loyalty remained with His money. He loved the values of this world more than Jesus. He became and example of the church at Laodicea that Jesus addressed in Revelation 3:14-22. His wealth blocked him from embracing and experiencing true kingdom values and dynamics. He was religious but empty, devoid of spirit and lost.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global.

Praying Over Infants and Children: Matthew 19:13-15

Praying Over Infants and Children: Matthew 19:13-15
“13) Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14) But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15) After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭13‬-‭15‬
These verses have inspired many paintings of Jesus taking time to pray for children. It is common in many 3rd world countries for parents to bring their children for prayer and for a blessing. Often mothers form long lines just to get their infants blessed. They are always at the front of the ministry line following a message.
I can understand the disciples becoming annoyed. From outward appearance, the children are to young to listen to a message, respond in personal faith or even remember the occasion. But the mothers and parents want their children to be blessed by spiritual leaders. It is a spontaneous ritual in may countries around the world and takes significant time.
Frequently, it distracts from those seeking salvation or ministry for what appears to be more urgent needs. But Jesus took time to lay hands on each of these children and pray over them. He made it a priority.
There were plenty of courses in Bible College for children’s ministry, but non touched on this spontaneous phenomenon. I never received training on “How to pray over children” or “How to bless children” and yet this occupies significant time after events in many countries around the world.
I confess, it remains a mystery to me and doesn’t fit into my “western model of ministry.” We must not equate this ritual with salvation for the children, but it is every bit as important as Hannah dedicating young Samual to the Lord in 1 Samual 1-2.
So what can be gleaned from this story in Matthew 19:13-15 and Jesus praying over infants and children. Let’s look at a few significant biblical principles that may be anchored in this text.
First, children are important to God. Jesus took time to pray over and bless children. Never minimize the value of infants and children. Jesus welcomed them!
Second, the desire of parents to dedicate their children to Jesus is important. It points the whole family in a godward direction.
Third, though the intellect of the child might not be impacted, these blessings minister to the spirit of the child. It is like reading Scripture or playing godly music to a child when still in the womb. I cannot explain it, but this has a significant developmental impact on the child.
Forth, prayer and blessings are powerful. James 5:16 says; “… the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Prayer is not an exercise in futility. Both prayer and blessings have an impact in the spiritual realm. Notice that the text specifically said that Jesus laid His hands on them. I think parents and grand parents should do this as often as possible for their children.
Fifth, Scripture teaches that the spirit of babes can be tuned into the spiritual realm at a very young age. (Read Psalm 8:2, Matthew 11:25, Mathew 21:16 and Luke 1:44.) This might explain why many cults, isms, and even the occult features elaborate rituals and ceremonies over infants and children. For some reason, western evangelical Christians are very negligent and undiscerning in this area.
Sixth, praying over infants and children provides an opportunity to cut off the iniquities of forefathers and dedicate them to godly kingdom influences. I consciously include this in my praying over children in predominately pagan, idolatry saturated or spiritistic countries like Haiti or India. I now pray a hedge of protection over infants and children from demonic activity and influences in the name and blood of Jesus Christ.
Seventh, this may serve as an opportunity to bless and speak a prophetic over the infant as exemplified by Simon in Luke 2:25-33. I only do this if the Holy Spirit prompts me.
Finally, this is an opportunity to consciously pray for their salvation and walk with God. I ask the Spirit of God to lead the into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as early as possible and guide them into fruitful Christian living.
I am sure there are more insights for praying over infants and children. If God has given you special illumination in this area, please include it in a comment. I am still learning related to this subject.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Locker Room Dialogue: Matthew 19:10-12

Locker Room Dialogue: Matthew 19:10-12
“10) The disciples *said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” 11) But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12) For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭10‬-‭12
This text is directly connected to the interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees about divorce and remarriage in the previous seven verses. These verses need to be studied together.
There are two common interpretations of these three verses. The first one suggests the disciples were saying to Jesus; “If marriage conflicts are so common and serious that so many marriages fall apart, its better to not marry and remain single.” That’s a common view today, but the Bible makes no provision for living together outside of marriage. The Bible calls that “fornication.”
To the above view, Jesus might have been saying; “Being single is not for everyone.” This view looks back at Gods commentary about Adam; “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Jesus was acknowledging that He created people with a huge capacity for romance, companionship and intimacy.
The second view held by many notable scholars believes the disciples were saying the opposite. They see the disciples saying to Jesus; “If marriage is permanent and there is no way out of a bad marriage, then it is better not to marry than to be sentenced to endure a life of misery.” The response of Jesus to this line of reasoning might have been; “not all men are cut out for marriage.” (Women, did you hear that?)
I find both of these views to be intriguing and have merit in the context. Either way, Jesus was saying that marriage is a huge undertaking. It comes with the responsibility to provide not only for a wife, but most likely also for children and extended family. When a man says “I do”; he enters into a life changing covenant to “focus on the family.”
Jesus was by no means saying that being single was a bad thing. He was merely acknowledging that “being single” and “being holy” is very challenging. Being single is not a ticket to sexual freedom and a life of wanton pleasure for the Christian. By no means!
1 Corinthians 7:25-36 presented this case in the strongest of terms. In these verses, Paul says that God calls Christian singles to holiness and undistracted focus to the Lord. Because they have no distractions from other responsibilities in this life, they can be 100% devoted to serving Christ.
But wait just a minute; Paul opened 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 by saying if a Christian single cannot live a chaste and holy life, they should marry rather than burn with sexual temptations. Marriage was designed to be a safe place for sexual fulfillment.
We are now forced to look at the deeper context surrounding Matthew 19:10-12. Ask yourself the question; “Who was in this conversation?” Bingo! Both Jesus and His disciples were mostly unmarried men. Peter was the only one in the group that we can conclusively say was married at this time. Insight: “This was a discussion mostly among young bachelors.”
Jesus used this occasion to have a serious intermission discussion with His disciples about the commitments that come with marriage and manhood. Many Christian singles need this sobering “Locker Room Dialogue” today.
I may be a bit old school, but I believe in the full context of Matthew 19:3-12, Jesus was placing more responsibility on the husband than on the wife for the success and happiness of the marriage. He was saying that husbands need to step up and commit to their marriage and family. Marriage is not a casual commitment. It must be taken seriously!
His comments in Matthew 19:12 about eunuchs can in no way be construed as a call to celibacy. Jesus acknowledged that this lifestyle was commendable but not mandatory for Christian ministry or service.
I have a motto in life that says; “Wherever you are, be there!” If you are serving God as a single man or woman; be there! If you are married; be there! If you go on a short term mission trip; be there! If you have a job or career; be there! Live every moment in the now; be there! When you are with your family; “be there! When you read your Bible; be there! When you go to church; “be there!” When you worship God; be there! When you go on a vacation; “be there!” The conversation between Jesus and His disciples about marriage boiled down to the commitment to fully “be there!”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Sanctity of Marriage: Matthew 19:3-9

The Sanctity of Marriage: Matthew 19:3-9
“3) Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4) And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5) and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6) Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7) They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8) He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9) And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭3‬-‭9‬
This encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees became the basis of the clearest teaching by Jesus on the sanctity of marriage in the four Gospels. The Pharisees goal was not to learn about marriage, but merely to get Jesus on record as discrediting Moses and the Law. They wanted a basis to accuse Jesus of breaking the Law.
Their question as recorded in verse 3 expresses how liberal the religious leaders had become; “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?” This was the origin of “no fault divorce”, but it was only initiated by the man.
According to verse 7, all the husband had to do was give his wife a certificate of divorce and send his wife away. There was no basis for child visitation or custody, no alimony and no claim to any marriage equity. She could be thrown out and abandoned for no cause and no reason.
This injustice was partially why Malachi 2:13-16 says that God hated the practice of divorce among His people. It had eroded the family and social structure in Israel. They had become worse than the Gentiles. Jesus was condemning this immoral and corrupt practice. He was defending women and the sanctity of marriage.
Jesus responded by appealing to the original design for marriage in Genesis 2:21-25. He went back to the beginning and noted that God created them as male and female, and caused them to cleave together as one.
The concept of “cleaving” is illustrated by glueing or laminating two pieces of wood together. As the carpenters son, Jesus could speak with authority on bonding. He was an expert at glueing wood together. He knew how to make two pieces of wood into one!
Jesus then issued a strong warning in verse 6. He said; “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh, what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” It’s not that they cannot be separated; the issue is that they cannot be separated without severe consequence.
Let me give an illustration. From the beginning, God joined electrons to protons to make atoms. For centuries mankind left them together. The end results of scientists separating them resulted in the nuclear bomb. The fallout has been disastrous. Bad things always happen when people tamper with Gods original design.
When a marriage ends in divorce, there are consequences. Two pieces of wood cannot be separated without marring both pieces. Divorce does the same to people. It leaves serious wounds and scars. The fallout affects a lot of people, especially the children.
The Pharisees could not refute the logic of Jesus, so they refer back to the command of Moses relative to divorce. Jesus pointed out that what Moses said was not “a command” but “a concession” based on hard hearts. In doing so, Jesus exposed the hard and calloused hearts of the Pharisees.
It is at this point that Jesus pointed out in verse 9 that divorce and remarriage amounts to adultery. It had become a loophole in the Law for wife swapping without assigning guilt of anything immoral. The religious leaders had evil and immoral hearts. The practice had become rampant in Israel as a way of legally circumventing the charge of adultery.
Verse 9 also includes what has come to be called “the exception clause.” When Jesus said “except for the cause of adultery” most people believe He was saying that infidelity is an excusable reason for divorce without immoral consequence.
But there are some serious biblical flaws with that view. First, the Greek word Jesus used was not the common word for “adultery”, but for “immorality.” Second, in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7; Paul taught that recourse to “pornia” or “immoralities” was to get married and not to get divorced. Third, Jesus Christ and the gospel is the basis for forgiveness and reconciliation not division and destruction. Finally the permanence of the marriage covenant is a picture of the assurance of salvation for believers. (See Ephesians 5:22-33)
Some scholars believe Jesus was teaching something totally different with “the exception clause.” Let me summarize.
According to the Old Testament, there were numerous immoral relationships that God did not permit. (Read Leviticus 18 & 20) God looks at these relationships as being “immoral.” God does not join them together in marriage because they are forbidden.
According to this view, Jesus was saying in Matthew 19:9; “When the marriage itself is immoral, it should be ended because God did not join those relationships together!” They must be repented from and set aside. When these people latter enter into a biblical marriage, it is not adultery because they were never in a biblical marriage covenant.
Coincidentally, the New Testament instructs two marriages to end. John the Baptist told Herod it was “unlawful” for him to be married to his brothers wife. Then again in 1 Corinthians 5:1, Paul disallowed the immoral union of a man to his fathers wife. Both were unlawful or immoral marriages. Both were forbidden under the Law. God did not join them together. Both were instructed to end.
Many see the biblical sanctity of marriage being extended to the Gentile church in Acts 15:28-29. The three restrictions summarize in these two verses for Gentile believers come directly from Leviticus 17-20. The Jerusalem Council was instructing the Gentile believers to embrace the biblical sanctity of marriage and holiness.
The usual view of “The Exception Clause” from Matthew 19:9 has resulted in the modern church basically adopting the same values on divorce and remarriage as the Pharisees. In the context, Jesus was doing just the opposite. He was establishing the permanence of the marriage covenant. He was not permitting divorce and remarriage for nearly any cause.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Change of Plans: Matthew 19:1-2

Change of Plans: Matthew 19:1-2
“1) When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; 2) and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭1‬-‭2‬ ‭
A major geographical relocation now takes place for Jesus and His disciples. He is now bound for Jerusalem from Galilee. To fill in the details of the journey, we must slip over to the book of Luke.
Luke 9:51-56 deals with this same journey but adds significant details. Verses 51 says; “And when the days were approaching for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem.”
It appears from the next three verses in Luke 9:52-54 that Jesus intended to travel through Samaria, but they did not receive Him because He was traveling with His face toward Jerusalem. It appears that He had actually sent a few messengers ahead of Him in an attempt to make special travel arrangements, but the efforts failed.
This was the occasion that James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans and Jesus had to rebuke them. It is noteworthy what He said to them in Luke 9:55-56; “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
It amazes me how quickly those in ministry can turn on the very people God has called them to love and reach. They totally missed the meaning of His parable on forgiveness at the end of chapter 18. It takes extra love and patience to build bridges rather than walls with people who initially oppose our mission.
How did Jesus respond? Matthew 19:1 says; “… He departed from Galilee, and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.” In other words, He changed His travel plans. They crossed the Jordan river and took the east route so as not to pass through Samaria. It added some time and distance, but they were able to avoid undo conflict.
Let’s take a moment and ponder this event. It was such a small ordeal that Matthew didn’t even record the tension. This speaks volumes of the calm and flexible demeanor of Jesus. He simply switched to plan B, but James and John were indignant. They became angry and vengeful.
Keep in mind, these two were recently on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and saw Moses and Elijah. They were ready to employ some “Elijah ministry technique.” They were ready to call fire down from heaven.
But there’s more to the story. Within weeks, just before His ascension according to Acts 1:8, Jesus commissioned His disciples to carry the gospel to “… Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotes parts of the earth.” Can you imagine the doors James and John would have permanently closed in Samaria had Jesus not restrained their anger?
This is no small issue! Our attitudes and actions toward other people affects the spread of the gospel. Later in 2 Corinthians 6:3, Paul would admonish believers to “give no offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited.”
Jesus was patient, loving and flexible because He had an eye on future open doors and fruitfulness in Samaria. The timing for Samaria was not right. Don’t let your anger or small perspective build walls or burn bridges for the gospel!
As a side note, I’m amazed at the change Jesus made in John over time. He was changed from being one of the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), to becoming the Apostle of Love.
So what happened as a result of plan B? Matthew 19:2 is amazing! It says “and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.” Luke 10:1-16 adds huge details. It indicates that ministry became so fruitful that Jesus sent out the seventy to go ahead of Him.
So it’s time for a little chat about closed doors. Because the door to Samaria closed, huge doors opened in Judea! Jesus didn’t skip a beat or sulk over the closed door. He just continued to minister to people in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
When God closes one door it’s because He wants to open a different door. Walking by faith invites Jesus to take the drivers seat. Plans might change but ministry remains fruitful when we realign ourselves with God. Jesus displayed amazing flexibility without becoming irritable. I love this story in the life and ministry of Jesus. Unfortunately, I’m often more like James and John, but God is working in me!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The King of Mercy and Compassion: Matthew 18:23-35

The King of Mercy and Compassion: Matthew 18:23-35
““23) For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24) When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25) But since he did not have the means to repay, his Lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26) So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27) And the Lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28) But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29) So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30) But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.” Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭23‬-‭35
Jesus used the question of Peter about forgiveness to tell one of the greatest parables in the Bible. It is the story of a king who decided to settle accounts with his slaves. There was brought before him one slave who owed him ten thousand pieces of silver.
By todays standards, that would be millions of dollars of unsecured debt. The king commanded him to be sold, together with his wife, family and all his possessions and the proceeds of the sale to be applied to the debt. His entreaty for patience was foolish because he had a debt he could not pay!
But moved with compassion, the king forgave him the entire debt. You would think that his gratitude would have been life changing. The grace and mercy given to him was totally unmerited.
But as the story goes, he went out and found a fellow slave that owed him a hundred denarii. By contrast, it was a very small debt. It was manageable. The whole debt could have easily been repaid in less than a year.
The fellow slave fell down and begged for patience. The request was more than reasonable. But the text says he was choked, treated with contempt and thrown into the debtors prison until repayment was made. What a tragedy! It would now take him several years to pay back his debt because of greatly reduced wages.
As the story continued, some fellow slaves were watching. They could not reconcile the compassion from the king toward the slave with an insane debt and his irrational treatment of a fellow slave with such a small debt. The rest of the story is profound.
“31) So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their Lord all that had happened. 32) Then summoning him, his Lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33) Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34) And his Lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35) My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭31‬-‭35‬
There are so many lessons in this story. Let me briefly unpack four insights from this amazing parable. I am sure you can find more.
First, the King is pictured as having compassion. This is a description of God and the gospel. John 3:16 says God loves people so much that He sent His own Son to pay for our sin that we might be forgiven our debt and saved. We do not work to earn our salvation. Our debt is too big. We merely believe in Jesus Christ and the gospel.
Second, you will never be asked to forgive anyone more than you need to be forgiven. Why? Because your sin is an eternal debt, but their sin against you is temporal. We all have a debt of sin before God that we cannot pay. But toward each other, we are at best fellow slaves. One day we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Third, those who are forgiven and shown mercy should likewise forgive others and show mercy. It seems that our standard of mercy and forgiveness will be applied to us when we stand before God. It is unimaginable that forgiven sinners have no compassion on others.
Finally, other people are watching! Your testimony is validated or falsified by the way you treat other people. Those who claim to be forgiven have no basis to be critical, condescending or judgmental. They should be the first to display compassion, mercy and grace to people living in bondage to sin. They should point others to the King of mercy and compassion.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Keeping Score: Matthew 18:21-22

Keeping Score: Matthew 18:21-22
“21) Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22) Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭21‬-‭22‬ ‭
Peter now approaches Jesus with a sincere question; “How many times shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Then he added; “Up to seven times?”
We’re not sure if his brother Andrew was getting under Peters skin or if he was talking about people in general… But Peter had a tendency of keeping score. He was counting and adding up everything people were doing against him. He couldn’t let go and give others a fresh start. He was setting himself up as both judge and jury.
Peter had a problem, he was plagued with anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. This was quickly becoming a greater sin than the offenses of others against him. Forgiven people should become forgiving people. But not Peter, he had a threshold where forgiveness reached its limit.
This is always a problem with legalistic people. They become judgmental of others. At some point they loose their joy and become cold, calloused and judgmental. Some people avoid religious folks because they come across as old grumps. Peter was well on his to membership in “The Grumpy Old Bitter Club.”
The answer Jesus gave Peter must have shocked him; “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” When Peter quickly did the math, that added up to 490 times.
Peter had lined himself up against two important biblical principles. First, by your standard of measure it shall be measured to you. This directly set up the second principle; the way you forgive others determines how God forgives you. Jesus had taught both of these principles in His sermon on the Mountain. (See Matthew 7:1-2 and 6:14-15)
I wonder how Peter would have responded had Jesus asked Him the question; “How often shall you sin and God forgive you; up to seven times?”
I don’t want to be judgmental, but as I read the four gospels, Peter pushed beyond his own standard in sinning against Jesus. Let me sight a few examples. One time he openly questioned Jesus about casting the nets on the other side of the boat, once He rebuked Jesus to His face, on the Mountain of Transfiguration he offered to build three tabernacles, then he joined the argument about greatness in the kingdom of heaven with the other disciples, he outrightly denied that he even knew Jesus three times, and then he stopped following Jesus and went back to his fishing business while recruiting other key disciples to join him. If I have my math right, Peter was in serious trouble based on his own standard.
So… Let me ask you a question; “How many times do you want God to forgive you for your sins?” What is your standard of measure? What is your understanding of forgiveness?
Stay tuned because this discussion becomes the basis of the next parable Jesus tells His disciples.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global.

Intervention and Prayer: Matthew 18:18-20

Intervention and Prayer: Matthew 18:18-20
“18) Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19) “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20) For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”” Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭18‬-‭20‬ ‭
Jesus now brings prayer into the mix of reconciling a brother or sister caught in a trespass. We often make the mistake of separating these three verses on prayer from the context.
In the two paragraphs before and the one following these three verses, Jesus was talking about reconciling someone who has been caught up in sin or who is straying from God.
Let’s be honest, these verses are often quoted when attendance is small at prayer meetings or a Bible Study. Though it is true that small gatherings do not hinder God from doing big things, this context is talking about when two or three go to a straying brother or sister in an attempt to turn them back to God.
I believe it includes the concept of confidentiality. God wants these encounters to be small, private and confidential. It is there that Jesus promises to work and pull down sinful strongholds.
All such attempts at reconciliation need to be bathed in prayer. Be biblical, it is the Holy Spirit and not a judgmental critic Who convicts of sin. (Please read John 16:7-10) If you approach someone as judge and jury, bent on accusations and condemnation, you will cause more damage than good.
The situation may be anchored in a misunderstanding, or worse, you might be acting on hearsay. Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal hidden things and invite truth to reign.
Approaching these encounters in the flesh with presuppositions of guilt and accusation is wrong and sinful. The end result will most likely be disastrous and explosive.
Either way, the enemy needs to be bound in prayer and the encounter needs to be covered with the blood of Jesus. The praying should be limited to the team of two or three involved in the intervention. This praying is not for the church prayer-gossip chain as happens so often in dysfunctional churches.
When approached with a humble attitude and earnest prayer, Jesus promises to show up and amazing things can happen during times of intervention. Misunderstandings can be cleared up, grievances can be set aside, confession and repentance of sin can take place, the enemy can be bound, physical infirmities can be healed (James 5:13-17), strongholds can be pulled down, forgiveness can be extended, reconciliation can happen and fellowship can be restored. These can be powerful encounters that shake both heaven and earth.
Many times during these encounters, the Holy Spirit convicts all present of sin and humility will be needed by all. These small and confidential encounters contain the seeds for revival and awakening. They can inspire deeper prayer meetings, Bible studies and growing movements of God in the weeks and months following. These have the potential to ignite a deep and genuine moving of the Holy Spirit.
For those of you who have attended one of my Freedom Quest Workshops or studied the workbook, you will see the application to the Ten Steps to Freedom in this context of Scripture. Identify and pulling down “the seven basic strongholds” removes the hinderances to spiritual growth and can fuel the fires of a deep walk with God. The stories of what God is doing are multiplying fast. Jesus wants to set His people free from sinful bondage and fill them with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global