About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"
Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them.
Then he said, "I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.
"How terrible it will be for anyone who causes others to sin. Temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the tempting.
So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better to enter heaven crippled or lame than to be thrown into the unquenchable fire with both of your hands and feet.
And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better to enter heaven half blind than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.
"Beware that you don't despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.
"If a shepherd has one hundred sheep, and one wanders away and is lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others and go out into the hills to search for the lost one?
And if he finds it, he will surely rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away!
In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish.
"If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.
But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.
If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won't accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
I tell you this: Whatever you prohibit on earth is prohibited in heaven, and whatever you allow on earth is allowed in heaven.
"I also tell you this: If two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.
For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them."
Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?"
"No!" Jesus replied, "seventy times seven!
"For this reason, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.
In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.
He couldn't pay, so the king ordered that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt.
But the man fell down before the king and begged him, 'Oh, sir, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.'
Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
"But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. 'Be patient and I will pay it,' he pleaded.
But his creditor wouldn't wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt could be paid in full.
"When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him what had happened.
Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.
Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?'
Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny.