The disciples asked Jesus, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” His reply is in the form of a chiastic structure:
1A: Mat 18:2, Jesus set a little child in the midst of them;
1B: Mat 18:3-5, humbled as little children + receive a little child in Jesus’ name;
1C: Mat 18:6-10, causes of sin;
CENTRAL AXIS: Mat 18:11-14, parable of the lost sheep;
2C: Mat 18:15-17, responses to sin;
2B: Mat 18:18-20a, bind/ loose/ agree in asking + gathered together in Jesus’ name;
2A: Mat 18:20b, Jesus Himself in the midst of them.
The thing that leaped out at me, was the 1B – 2B pair. On the first side of the chiastic structure, Jesus taught that receiving a little child in His name, was the same as receiving Him. We already learned that He is gentle and lowly in heart. On the second side of the chiastic structure, Jesus taught that gathering together in His name, was the same as gathering together with Him. That is why we receive anything that we ask, because it is as if He is asking.
Now in order to gather together and be in unity, we have to be converted and become as little children, we have to have gentle and lowly hearts. We have to stop giving offense and taking offense. We must deal with sin in our midst biblically and Scripturally. Not ignore it. Not allow resentment and bitterness a foothold because we did not resolve it with our brother. Not have a prideful heart, that refuses to repent when someone comes to us with a fault. We must take heed that we do not despise each other – especially the one that is not among the ninety- nine as we are. We can rest assured that the Good Shepherd is hot on the trail of any who have gone astray!
When we have that love, that humility, that agreement, that careful guard against sin, then whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, and whatever we ask in agreement, will be done for us by our Father who is in heaven.
Because when we have that love, that humility, that agreement, and that careful guard against sin, Jesus is truly in our midst. He is among us, because that is who He is.
I do believe this is why we sometimes don’t see our prayers answered, because in so many ways we are still like two- year- olds fighting over the toys and deep into sibling rivalry!