July 3, 2021
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:6-7).
The ‘little ones’ are fellow Christians. To cause them to sin is to set a stumbling block before them so they would be trapped in sin. A millstone was a very large wheel made of stone that had a beam attached to it and was pulled by a mule, horse, or ox around a trench wherein a farmer would shovel grain to be ground into powder. These millstones weighed hundreds of pounds.
Josephus tells us one form of execution practiced by the Romans was to take a criminal, tie a heavy stone around his body, and throw him into deep water to drown. Sicilian or American mobsters executed their enemies in similar fashion by fitting them with ‘cement shoes’.
The word ‘woe’ was a very harsh, condemning word, almost a curse word in the days of Jesus. The person or persons upon which ‘woe’ was pronounced were judged and condemned with no chance of forgiveness. It was a death sentence declared upon the guilty party or parties.
Jesus pronounced this condemnation upon a sinfulness and godlessness world because it rejects God, rejects Jesus Christ, and rejects the people of God - both Jews and Christians. Jesus made this clear to Nicodemus when He said (John 3:19-21), And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
Jesus also pronounced ‘woe’ upon those who cause others to stumble, . . . but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! In another place He said (Luke 11:42-52) . . . woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them . . . Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs . . . Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.
“Father, it is clear Your judgment upon those who cause your people to stumble is severe beyond measure. Help me Lord, that I may not be the cause of stumbling to a brother or sister. In Jesus name I ask, Amen.”