Matthew 18-19 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Who Is the Greatest?
18 About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 2 Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him. 3 Then he said:
I promise you this. If you don’t change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. 4 But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And when you welcome one of these children because of me, you welcome me.
Temptations To Sin
6 It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the deepest part of the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks! 7 The world is in for trouble because of the way it causes people to sin. There will always be something to cause people to sin, but anyone who does this will be in for trouble.
8 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! You would be better off to go into life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the fire that never goes out. 9 If your eye causes you to sin, poke it out and get rid of it. You would be better off to go into life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fires of hell.
The Lost Sheep
10-11 Don’t be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven.[a] 12 Let me ask you this. What would you do if you had a hundred sheep and one of them wandered off? Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go look for the one that had wandered away? 13 I am sure that finding it would make you happier than having the ninety-nine that never wandered off. 14 That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.
When Someone Sins
15 If one of my followers[b] sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you. If that person listens, you have won back a follower. 16 But if that one refuses to listen, take along one or two others. The Scriptures teach that every complaint must be proven true by two or more witnesses. 17 If the follower refuses to listen to them, report the matter to the church. Anyone who refuses to listen to the church must be treated like an unbeliever or a tax collector.[c]
Allowing and Not Allowing
18 I promise you that God in heaven will allow whatever you allow on earth, but he will not allow anything you don’t allow. 19 I promise that when any two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 Whenever two or three of you come together in my name,[d] I am there with you.
An Official Who Refused To Forgive
21 Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone[e] who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?”
22 Jesus answered:
Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times![f] 23 This story will show you what the kingdom of heaven is like:
One day a king decided to call in his officials and ask them to give an account of what they owed him. 24 As he was doing this, one official was brought in who owed him fifty million silver coins. 25 But he didn’t have any money to pay what he owed. The king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all he owned, in order to pay the debt.
26 The official got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you every cent I owe!” 27 The king felt sorry for him and let him go free. He even told the official that he did not have to pay back the money.
28 As the official was leaving, he happened to meet another official, who owed him a hundred silver coins. So he grabbed the man by the throat. He started choking him and said, “Pay me what you owe!”
29 The man got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you back.” 30 But the first official refused to have pity. Instead, he went and had the other official put in jail until he could pay what he owed.
31 When some other officials found out what had happened, they felt sorry for the man who had been put in jail. Then they told the king what had happened. 32 The king called the first official back in and said, “You’re an evil man! When you begged for mercy, I said you did not have to pay back a cent. 33 Don’t you think you should show pity to someone else, as I did to you?” 34 The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. 35 That is how my Father in heaven will treat you, if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all your heart.
Teaching about Divorce
19 When Jesus finished teaching, he left Galilee and went to the part of Judea that is east of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed their sick people.
3 Some Pharisees wanted to test Jesus. They came up to him and asked, “Is it right for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4 Jesus answered, “Don’t you know that in the beginning the Creator made a man and a woman? 5 That’s why a man leaves his father and mother and gets married. He becomes like one person with his wife. 6 Then they are no longer two people, but one. And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together.”
7 The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why did Moses say that a man could write out divorce papers and send his wife away?”
8 Jesus replied, “You are so heartless! That’s why Moses allowed you to divorce your wife. But from the beginning God did not intend it to be that way. 9 I say that if your wife has not committed some terrible sexual sin,[g] you must not divorce her to marry someone else. If you do, you are unfaithful.”
10 The disciples said, “If that’s how it is between a man and a woman, it’s better not to get married.”
11 Jesus told them, “Only those people who have been given the gift of staying single can accept this teaching. 12 Some people are unable to marry because of birth defects or because of what someone has done to their bodies. Others stay single for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who can accept this teaching should do so.”
Jesus Blesses Little Children
13 Some people brought their children to Jesus, so that he could place his hands on them and pray for them. His disciples told the people to stop bothering him. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.”[h] 15 After Jesus had placed his hands on the children, he left.
A Rich Young Man
16 A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?”
17 Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” the man asked.
Jesus answered, “Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. 19 Respect your father and mother. And love others as much as you love yourself.” 20 The young man said, “I have obeyed all of these. What else must I do?”
21 Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower.” 22 When the young man heard this, he was sad, because he was very rich.
23 Jesus said to his disciples, “It’s terribly hard for rich people to get into the kingdom of heaven! 24 In fact, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God’s kingdom.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly surprised and asked, “How can anyone ever be saved?”
26 Jesus looked straight at them and said, “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.”
27 Peter replied, “Remember, we have left everything to be your followers! What will we get?”
28 Jesus answered:
Yes, all of you have become my followers. And so in the future world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, I promise that you will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given a hundred times as much. They will also have eternal life. 30 But many who are now first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
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