Matthew 18:1-14

Who is important in God's kingdom?

1 Soon after this, the disciples came to Jesus and they asked him, ‘Who is the most important person in the kingdom of heaven?’

2 Jesus called a child to come to him. He made the child stand in the middle of them all. 3 He said, ‘I tell you this: You must change and become like little children. If not, you will never come into the kingdom of heaven. 4 This little child does not think that he is very important. You must also think as he does. Whoever does this will be the most important person in the kingdom of heaven. 5 If anyone accepts a child like this because of me, that person also accepts me.’

6 Jesus said, ‘A person who believes in me may not seem important. But you should never make that person do wrong things. Do not do that! It would be better for you if someone tied a big stone round your neck. Then you would sink deep down into the sea and die. 7 Some things in this world will cause people to do wrong things. You can be sure that bad things will happen. But it will be very bad for the person who makes these things happen.

18:6The person might be someone who does not believe well in God. Or he may be a child. It would be better to die than to cause someone to stop obeying God.

8 If your hand or your foot causes you to do wrong things, you should cut it off. You should throw it away. It is better to have only one hand or one foot and to have God's true life. It will be much worse to keep both your hands and both your feet and still do wrong things. Then God will throw you into hell, where the fire always burns. 9 If your eye causes you to do wrong things, then you should take it out. You should throw it away. It is better to have only one of your eyes and to have God's true life. It will be much worse if you keep both your eyes but then God throws you into hell. There the fire always burns.

10 Be careful! Do not think that any of these little people are not important. I tell you this. They have angels who watch over them. Those angels are always close beside my Father in heaven.

18:10God's word teaches us that there are angels. And these angels are servants of God, who watch over his people.

11 [I, the Son of Man, came to look for those who are far away from God.]

18:11Verse 11 is in old Bibles. Many Bible students think that someone put it into Matthew's book later.

12 Think about a man who has 100 sheep. He discovers that one of his sheep is not there with the others. What does he do? He leaves all his other sheep on the hills. He goes to look for the one lost sheep. 13 And I tell you this: If he finds that lost sheep, he will be very happy. All the other sheep are safe together. But they do not make him as happy as this one sheep does. 14 God, your Father in heaven, is like that shepherd. He does not want any of these little people to be lost, not even one of them.’

18:14In this story, God is like the man who takes care of the sheep. The lost sheep is like a person who is not obeying God. God cares that he is lost. He wants to bring him back to himself.