Text: Matthew 17:24-27 and Matthew 18:1-35
Event(s): Peter and Jesus pay the temple tax, Jesus addresses the question of “Who is the greatest?”, Jesus warns of offenses, The parable of the lost sheep, Dealing with a sinning brother, The parable of the unforgiving servant
Matthew 17:24 “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” The temple tax was an annual tax that was collected for the ongoing maintenance of the temple. Though I’ve read this passage several times, oddly, what stood out to me this time, is that instead of asking Jesus directly, the people asked Peter. I was immediately taken back to the account of when Eve was approached in the garden – when she was alone. Division, in order to accomplish its work, must first isolate. I love that Peter didn’t entertain this question too long. Instead, he came to Jesus.
Matthew 18:19 “if two of you agree on earth” In order to understand what this means, we must look at the entire passage – specifically what Jesus said right before, in vs 18. I believe the Amplified Bible really paints a clear picture of when it is appropriate to “bind” and “loose”. Here’s what the Amplifies says, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth shall have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth shall have[already] been loosed in heaven”. Matthew 18:18 AMP
“Shall have already been”…that’s the key. Our goal in prayer should not be to pray from earth to heaven, but instead, from heaven to earth. This means we have to first seek what God’s will is, as it is in heaven, in order to declare and agree with it here on earth. The word “agree” is the root word sumphoneo, from which we get the word symphony. It means to sound together, or to be in harmony. But not just with one another; the greatest symphony we are a part of is the song of heaven.
Matthew 18:21-35 Unforgiveness leads to our own torture. It has an effect on our mind, on our emotional health and even on our physical being.
Today’s Takeaway: The parable of the unforgiving servant was the parable through which I originally got the revelation of forgiveness. I had come to Christ with lots of pain and lots of wounds that had been inflicted at the hands of people that honestly, I was having a very difficult time forgiving. But reading this parable allowed me to hold up a mirror to myself and I knew I didn’t have any right, really, to harbor unforgiveness knowing that Jesus had forgiven me of so much. More than harboring unforgiveness, I wanted to make sure I didn’t restrict what God would do in my life. I was so desperate for His healing touch and so if that meant I needed to forgive and let go, I was willing to do it. If there’s anyone whom you know you need to forgive, I encourage you to take some extra time in prayer today and ask God to help you let go.
Additional (optional) reading: A great deal of these events are only captured in the Gospel of Matthew. However, there are some parallel accounts that can be found in Mark 9:33-50 and Luke 9:46-48