8 “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 to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 “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 to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
As we continue to work through this analogy that Jesus is using in regards to children, we must not lose sight of the original statement. The children represent God’s children (those who are saved and have humbled themselves to enter the Kingdom of God). We are now treading on some scriptural grounds that often get misconceived and misconstrued because we start to think Jesus is just talking about kids, not His children.
It seems like Jesus mysteriously puts in this idea of cutting off our foot or plucking out our eye if they cause us to stumble. We learned about this back in Matthew 5 and Mark 9 when Jesus first told His followers to Pluck Out Your Eye. Back then He was talking about issues of lust and adultery but now He is talking about becoming a stumbling block to those who are about to enter the Kingdom of God or who already are in the Kingdom of God.
If we go back to the original question from Matthew 18:1, we recall that the disciples were asking who the greatest in heaven would be. His response has taken a path to warn them not to think this way as it becomes a stumbling block to others and ourselves. If we are trying to be the greatest in heaven, we will be the least great. In Mark’s account of this story, he records a statement that Jesus is known for saying in various circumstances to remind us of humility in chapter 9:
35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.“
Jesus is warning against us stumbling in this manner, that we would despise those of His Kingdom (whether we ourselves are in it or not) because of what He said previously: that we would be condemned (Matthew 18:6). Furthermore, as we read in verse 10, we are setting ourselves against the forces of God’s Kingdom. The angels that protect and care for the saved will be set against us! No wonder Jesus said it would be better that we have a millstone hung around our neck and be cast into the sea.
When we try to walk in God’s Kingdom with an earthly mindset, the two realms do not mix well. We cannot live in God’s Kingdom with envious or prideful hearts. We cannot be worried about being first or the best, but we get to simply rest in the fact that we know we are loved and cared for. This passage contains many warnings towards those who mess with God’s children, but we also get to see how protective He is of His children. If we are one of those, then what do we have to fear? We can see that we have the entirety of His Kingdom surrounding us, providing for us, and protecting us.
Which side are you on?