Jesus is Being Honest With You: Third Sunday After Pentecost - Matthew 10:34-42 / Pastor Ted Giese
Jesus is Being Honest With You - Matthew 10:34-42 / Third Sunday After Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina / Rev. Ted A. Giese
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
(Matthew 10:34-42 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." This doesn't square up with what we expect from Jesus, or does it? It is Jesus speaking of Himself. He Should know, shouldn't He? - It's important to note that our Gospel text this morning starts in the middle of something; And if you've ever walked into the middle of something, you'll know that things aren't always exactly what the appear to be at first glance. Today's Gospel lesson starts in the middle of Jesus sending out His twelve handpicked disciples to do 'a kind of' mission work, this is well before Jesus' Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection, which means it's before His ascension which the Gospel of Matthew likewise details in its last chapter, Chapter 28.
What does this mean? Well at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, at the Ascension, Jesus - like He does in Matthew chapter 10 - sends out His disciples - that would be 11 of the very same 12 men, this time minus Judas Iscariot, only it's a bit different - in Matthew 28 Jesus sends them out with these familiar words “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” In Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus doesn't send them out to All Nations rather He is sending the twelve only to the Jewish people. In the part leading up to our Gospel reading this morning it says that Jesus instructed these twelve in Chapter 10 saying, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." That would be just Jewish people. Is the picture starting to get a bit clearer?
At the end of the Gospel of Matthew they are sent out by a Jesus who had conquered Sin, Death and the Devil, these men, by that time, had become witnesses to His crucifixion, death and resurrection, in Chapter 10 as Jesus sends them out to their Jewish brothers and sisters all of this remained to be seen, and was not super clear yet. So what you've walked into the middle of is Jesus preparing them, in a very honest way, for the work of introducing the people to who Jesus is, and how such an introduction might be expected to go. When the twelve go out to the Jewish people to proclaim that the long awaited Messiah, the promised Christ had come, Jesus wants them to be prepared for the fact that some will embrace this and others will not, that there will be conflict, even conflict inside families. That like a sword divides limbs from a body so too Jesus, by His very presence, can cause divisions within the community and within a family.
To make this even clearer consider two things, 1) in the earlier part of the 10th Chapter of Matthew as Jesus sends the twelve out He tells them to stay with people in their homes, not to take much with them, to rely on their hospitality, Jesus says, "As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house," Now it was not unusual for houses to be multi-generational dwellings consisting of mothers and Fathers and Children and grandchildren and maybe even some great-grandparents. Could it happen that there might be some individuals in the family who may not warm up to the idea, and proclamation, of Jesus under their roof? Yes. Is the picture coming clearer?
Jesus says to the twelve, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." While this all seems to make some sense, it does still seem harsh to modern ears. Let's look at what Jesus says right before He says “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword," the thing Jesus says right before this is the 2) thing to consider. Jesus says, "everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven." This is a line in the sand, do you acknowledge Jesus, do you confess Him before the world or do you keep silent? Pastors, like the twelve, are vocationally obligated and have vowed to confess Christ Jesus before Men, we must do it - if we do not we are in grave and great peril for Jesus promises here to deny us before His Father in Heaven if we shut up our mouths, if we are silent, quiet, if we avoid confessing Him, if we refuse to acknowledge Him. Because of all this we publicly accept the fact that speaking of Jesus may bring conflict, that confessing Him as LORD brings a sword of division, confessing Jesus is drawing a line in the sand. We accept that Jesus' words from today's Gospel are true when He says, “Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me."
Yes, yes ... you say ... we understand ... that's why you're always going on about Jesus ... but then there's this nagging concern that creeps up, the little question that grows bigger ... what about me? What do I think about this for myself? Not everyone is a pastor, but almost everyone is a person who lives in a household. If you are not the one coming to tell others about Jesus in the way that pastors do you are certainly the one living in the house. When you go home after the Divine Service today will you find people in your house, or will you see people from the family, who are divided from you because of a different confession about Jesus. And if not in your house do you have a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a grandchild, a grandparent, a husband, a wife, a niece, a nephew who does not, will not, confess Jesus to be the only-begotten Son of God as we confess this morning in the Nicene Creed?
If you do you know the pain that comes from it, you know the lack of peace that comes from it and by now the words Jesus speaks to the twelve disciples should be clear as day. And here is the tricky part this same Jesus brings you such peace, for you know, you believe, you trust that everything He has done He has done for you, you who are not a Jew but a Gentile, you are the recipient of such gifts that it boggles the mind that there are people who would reject this gift of eternal life. It's even more confusing and heartbreaking when they reject the gift that is already theirs, when they turn away from their baptism and refuse to come to worship in God's House, when they look down of the Word of the Lord and disregard Holy Communion, when they take Christ name in vain. Your heart breaks when the infant you held in your arms with such hope now has no hope in their life when it comes to their faith. What to do? 'I've tried everything' you say! 'I've put my foot in my mouth so many times I give up.' 'I can never seem to find the right words' you say. 'To keep the 'Peace' I avoid talking about Jesus all together.' And then you come to church and you hear Jesus say, "Everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." You hear these words and you feel crushed. Jesus said these words to the twelve disciples so that they would not be crushed. He was frank with them, honest with them so that when people did deny Him, deny Jesus they would not be shocked, they may be saddened and frustrated but not shocked, not completely disheartened.
One of the twelve disciples Jesus sent out to the Jewish people that day, was Peter. Peter was a fisherman called by Jesus to be a "Fisher of Men." He has some words for you today, that by the power of the Holy Spirit have been preserved for you, for your circumstance. Peter who had personally denied Jesus, when Jesus was arrested and was being tried falsely, publicly said - about the Jesus he'd spent nearly three years with - these damming words, “I do not know the man.” This same Peter after the Ascension says to you, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." These are the words of one who has been forgiven. The words of one who knew Jesus and who for a time denied Him and then was restored back to faith by the very same Jesus he'd denied. These are the words of one who like a branch severed from the vine was grafted back into the vine. Amongst those who the twelve had first come to when Jesus sent them out in Matthew Chapter 10, might there have been Jewish mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, grandchild and grandparents, husbands and wives who in time embraced faith in Jesus - the very Jesus that they had lived their lives longing for? The very Jesus they had first been divided over. The Epistle of Romans talks about these when it talks about Gentiles being grafted into the faith, the Jewish and the Gentile, for both of these the letter to the Romans points out that it is "God [who] has the power to graft them in again [when they lay broken off and in danger of the fire to come]." Do not be discouraged, the Lord is not finished with those people in your life.
In the mean time, do we then stay silent and hope for a Pastor to save our family member? For the one who needs to return to Jesus, do we 'keep the peace' today and forfeit everlasting peace? because we hear Saint Peter say "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance," do we sit back and do nothing? No. Peter continues to say "the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." We don't know when the end will come, we don't know when death will come. Jesus says "We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work." The need is urgent. Even still is it all on you and you only?
Our God is a God who uses means, Jesus sent out the twelve, Jesus sends out His pastors to be under-shepherds, Jesus send you out too. While the words from today are specific to a certain setting in the unfolding story of your salvation in Christ Jesus, these words are not stuck in the past they are for you today. For your part be kind to the ones who share God's Word to you and place Jesus before your eyes, for Jesus says "whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” The one that comes to share God's word to you and yours is as venerable as 'a little one,' like a little kid. You know that feeling because you have felt vulnerable when you have 'gone out on a limb' to share Jesus with someone who needs to hear about Him and what He has done for them.
Jesus knows this vulnerability too, He the one who is all powerful set aside His Divine power to live His life as a man and die as a man - very vulnerable, to stand before rulers and men in the street, to enter into people's houses - very vulnerable, putting Himself always at risk of being rejected, one time they prepared to throw Him off of a hill, at other times they picked up stones to stone Him, they hurled insults at Him, the chief priests, the Sadducees and the scribes and the Pharisees had Jesus killed, worked it so that He would be nailed to a cross on a hill and be crucified unto death, Jesus embraced the dangers inherent in sharing Himself with the world, with the children of Israel, His own children. He did this perfectly for you so that you will have eternal peace. So that He can confess you before His Father in heaven. Take heart and remember Jesus doesn't send you alone, the mission field is not your sole responsibility, it is Jesus' mission field - whether it is in some foreign land, or around the corner or in your own home - where ever it is Jesus is with you just as He promises to be when in the last chapter of Matthew He says, "behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He knows your struggles, He is being honest with you as He was with the disciples. You who were lost are now saved because of Him, there are yet more who will have what you have in Him. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen
 Matthew 28:18-20
 Matthew 10:5-6
 Matthew 10:12-14
 Matthew 10:32-33
 Matthew 10:32-34
 Matthew 4:19
 Matthew 26:74
 2 Peter 3:9
 John 21:15-19 "When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do You love Me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this He said to him, “Follow Me.”
 Romans 11:23
 2 Peter 3:10
 John 9:4
 Matthew 28:20