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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 14: Matthew 17:24-18:16, by Kevin M. Williams

Then Yeshua answers their question a bit more directly:

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:4-5).

My wife defines biblical humility as “knowing precisely who you are before God’s judgment seat.” That, she says, will make you humble. She may be on to something. Yeshua points out here that if you are as humble as a child—without rights, without demands, without privileges other than what the Father gives you—then you are humble, and perchance, among the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

For the rest of us, if we know such a person and we receive him or her with our own faith expressed in hospitality, with honor and respect, then we also receive the Messiah. This too, can bring a person to humility.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell” (Matthew 18:6-9).

We shall not spend overdue time on these verses, as the overall mood seems clear enough. At issue however, is not whether we should go about with millstones around our necks, without hands or feet, or with our eyes plucked out. These are severe exaggerations intended to illustrate the weightier issues. The point is not what punishments are warranted for those who do these things. If they were, who among us would be whole in body? Who would be worthy to sit as judge? Rather, so great is the call to be “converted” to a child, humble in all our ways, that being a stumbling block to anyone becomes unthinkable, and an act to be avoided without question.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Summer 2004

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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