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Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church- Germany- Pastor Joe Asher- Pentecost 3- 6/21/20- IN NOMINE JESU-
Matthew 10:5a, 21-33
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them…
21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
Have No Fear
26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
If you want to understand the central message of Jesus’ Matthew 10 instructions to the Twelve disciples, and to us, then you have to recognize that our Lord’s central theme in today’s Gospel is “The Cost of Discipleship.” When a person is connected to Christ by faith, and follows Him without compromise, then our Savior is telling us that believers can expect intense opposition from everyone who chooses to live a life without God and without Jesus as Lord.
And the first place where opposition to Christ may come is from family. Verse 21-
Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death…
Jesus is here describing the deadly conflict directed to Christian believers in the first century, and still sometimes today… most notably in Pakistan, the island of Mindinao, and places throughout Africa. In the past and also today, the followers of Jesus are seen by many as enemies of the state, as ones who destabilize the status quo, and as followers of an unrecognized God. And our Lord’s warning is that believers will endure persecution at the hands of an evil world, and that the apostles would be the first to suffer.
The Book of Acts and the early histories of the Christian faith outline a lot of what happened-
- The arrests
- The banishment
- The imprisonments
- Even martyrdom for the Lord Jesus
And for some, even a believer’s own family turned the Christian in to face seizure, imprisonment, with the end result sometimes being execution.
How could this happen? And today, why do some families still disown those who turn to Christ in faith?
It is clear that when a person comes to know Jesus as Savior, family members are often the first to respond negatively. More than most others, it is the family that recognizes the change in their loved one. After all, every Christian is completely changed on the inside. Being linked to Christ through faith connects every believer to life, peace, joy, and salvation. And when your family sees the change, and doesn’t understand it, or opposes it, or is angry about it, then they see the Christian transformation as intolerable.
More than that- they see the believer’s life in Christ as a judgement upon their own lives. Jesus talked about this in John 8:12. Christ said-
I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
And then John 1 tells us that those in darkness often don’t understand, and in sin reject, the light that Christ brings. It’s Light versus darkness. It’s Light at war with darkness. And when a sinner receives the Light of Christ and trusts Jesus in faith, then those in darkness will typically try to suppress the Light of the Savior in the new believer.
Light and darkness can never exist together. Either light will dispel the darkness, or darkness will overcome the light. But both can never remain together because each is the antithesis of the other.
So in many families, when one member becomes a Christian, often intense opposition will rise up. But in the Gospel, did you see Jesus’ promise? Verse 22-
…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Here Christ gives us the reality with His promise. The reality is that the Christian will often face intense opposition for the name and cause of Christ. That is the significant cost of being Jesus’ disciple. But the promise is also true… that those who endure to the end, will be saved.
Division, conflict, and persecution is expected in the Christian life. But the reward for those who love Jesus and trust Christ in faith is beyond comparing to the suffering we may endure in this life. For in our Savior, we have life, peace, joy, and salvation promised to all who endure to the end.
Now, let’s focus on our lives today. In our current world context, few of us face death for the cause of Christ. Though there are a few places on this globe where conversion to faith in Jesus could put a believer at risk, most of what we face in Western culture is simple ridicule with the accompanying charge that Christians are intolerant of others and bigoted against certain groups of people.
In various ways, Christians receive the message that as long as we keep Jesus to ourselves, we can expect peace from everyone else. But this attitude also implies that if our love for our Savior and our Christian faith is noticed as the defining truth of our lives, then we can expect opposition on many levels from the world around us.
Again, it has always been true that light and darkness can never exist together. Either light will dispel the darkness, or darkness will overcome the light. Both can never remain together because each is the antithesis of the other.
So, conflict with the world is a characteristic of the Christian life.
But here is the surprising thing. Jesus sends His followers out with the Gospel because He would have all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) The motivation for the proclamation of the Gospel has always been God’s love for lost sinners.
And our Savior sends us out into the world and tells us, Matthew 5:16-
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
And also in today’s Gospel reading, Christ makes the astonishing statement, verses 32-33-
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Today in our modern world, in polite company it has become politically correct to avoid talking about politics and religion. But clearly from God’s revealed Word, Jesus tells us that being His follower is never a private or secret commitment. The confession of Christ must be done before the world because the Gospel message is life-giving and crucial to all who are in darkness and lost in sin.
So, please allow me to get personal here. What about your public confession of Jesus, your Savior? How are you doing in telling others about the One who died on the cross and rose again to rescue all sinners from sin, death, and hell? Do you have a witness for Jesus…
- In your office?
- At your school?
- With your family?
- In social events with your friends?
In every setting, Christ would have us acknowledge Him before others because life, and death, and eternal salvation is at stake.
The apostle Peter said it this way, 1 Peter 3:15-
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
Whether we are opposed, or ridiculed, or condemned, our hope for salvation is Jesus Christ. He went to the cross to save the whole world, to pay for all sin, and through faith in our Savior, all who trust Christ in faith have forgiveness, peace, and eternal life.
And the simple truth is that the Gospel must get out. Regardless of the opposition or ridicule, God would have everyone hear the Good News. With this in mind, our Lord has all Christian believers carry the good news of Jesus to the world.
The final thing the Savior addresses in our reading is the subject of FEAR. When speaking of the world, Christ directly says in verse 26-
So have no fear of them.
And here is the foundational truth that we must understand- the world can ultimately only take our physical life from us. But God our heavenly Father guards everything else- especially our eternal life in Christ Jesus. So in this world, our Lord Jesus tells us to fear only God, for He is the one Who watches over even sparrows! And if sparrows matter to the Father, we can be sure that we matter so much more because we are His people who have been redeemed by His Son.
God bless you in your faith and love for Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
+Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC PRAYERS- Pentecost 3- 6/21/20
Dear heavenly Father, in every setting, make us bold witnesses for Jesus Christ. Give us courage to confess our Savior before others so that Your Gospel will save all who receive it in faith.
Lord in Your mercy………………… Hear our prayer.
Eternal Triune God, we fear, love, and trust in You above all things. Help us to see that our lives are completely dependent upon You, and also that you love us in spite of our sin, and save us by the cross of Jesus Christ. With the Gospel in mind, give us the unswerving desire to live every moment as your people.
Lord in Your mercy…………………. Hear our prayer.
Blessed Holy Spirit, stir up your people to love all humanity with same love which motivated the Son to rescue all sinners by His cross. Make us a people of INCLUSION, rather than exclusion, for we rejoice that Christ would have all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
Lord in Your mercy…………………… Hear our prayer.
Finally, Lord, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, lonely, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.