Matthew 18:1-20 – It’s interesting to note that this week’s Gospel starts and ends with the name of Jesus, and the things that are done in the name of Jesus. You can look at the whole of Matthew and see the bookends that are the name of Jesus. The beginning is the genealogy, and Matthew 1:23, “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” The end is “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
We see the importance of the name of Jesus the Matthew, Chapter 18, as well. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”
SIDEBAR: In this time, children were not seen in the same light as they are today, in which they are given equal, and sometimes greater, status. Children were less than grownups. Not in a degrading way, but in the adults went first, and the children knew their place and fell in behind kind of way. What Jesus is saying here is anyone who will go to lengths to serve even the least in His name are servants of all by faith in Christ (we see this in John 13, when Jesus takes the form of a servant and washes the disciples feet). It’s important to note that this does not mean that the act of servitude earns us salvation in Christ, but rather our humility comes from the faith we have in Jesus, even in His very name, and moves in us the desire to serve.
The pericope for this week ends with the name of Jesus, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” We see that being together in the name of Jesus, which is what we do in church when we begin the service in the name of God, He comes among us and we are with Him.
The name of Jesus brings so much to us. It gives power to Baptism, it blesses and sustains us in the Benediction, it leads and guides all that we do. We see the faith which comes from the Word of Jesus in action in the verses prior to the last. “If your brother sins against you” is not a prescription for what we MUST do, but rather the result of loving, kindness, and humility in faith for our brothers in Christ, a faith which leads us to draw back those who have fallen away. Those who have become the lost sheep. Those who sin, as we all have. We have Jesus Himself, who brings life and salvation.
In Jesus name, Amen.