Reading: Matthew 10
32 "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. 34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
37 "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:32-39 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Today's reading contains the second major discourse of Matthew's Gospel. As Jesus sends out the Twelve, he gives them the instructions recorded in this chapter. The mission of the Kingdom will begin with Israel-preaching the kingdom, serving the sick and needy, sharing good news and blessings (verses 5-8). (Eventually the mission of the Kingdom will be expanded to include both Jews and Gentiles.)
Anytime the question of mission and outreach comes up, the companion question also arises: Who can be a follower? Matthew's concern in this chapter is not the question of Jews and Gentiles. Matthew's focus is rather on owning Jesus, confessing faith, acknowledging him, and being willing to pay the price and establish new priorities that may exclude the things and the people previously loved and cherished. Anything less is not acceptable. The net result is the loss of life as we knew it. The old "normal" must be rejected-a new "normal" must take over. That is the way of Jesus-the way of the cross.
Passages such as our text are often cast off as irrelevant and not applicable in today's world because of the severity of the requirements. Does following Jesus really require rejecting family? Does following Jesus really require the way of the cross, which is the way of sacrifice and death to self? Is genuine life to be found by losing what we value in return for gaining what often appears to be little reward? How does one square finding life to lose it and losing life to find it? These are not easy questions-they are worthy of our thoughtful prayer this day. The ultimate question is not about who can be a follower. The ultimate question is whether I am a faithful follower!
Dear Heavenly Father, we seek this day to find life abundant, genuine and full. We recommit ourselves to that task, hesitantly willing to take up our cross, willing to follow wherever is necessary. We seek his righteousness and his way, in Jesus' name, Amen.