Printable PDF: 7-12-2020 Pentecost 6
Vicar Jason Lindemann ~ July 12, 2020 ~ Pentecost 6 ~ Matthew 10:34-42
Matthew 10:34-42: 34“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law- 36a 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. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
40“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
What does Jesus mean to you?
What does Jesus mean to you? How would you answer that? What would everyone say if we gathered around in a circle and answered? If you were 6th or 7th in the circle, what answers do you think the other Christians would give that you would say, “Hey, you took mine!” What does Jesus mean to you? “Jesus means everything to me.” “Jesus is my God.” Alright, those are good ones. “Jesus is my friend.” “Jesus helped me out of a really dark place.” Your turn is getting closer. “Jesus died for me so I want to live for him.” “Jesus forgave me all of my sins and that means I get to go to heaven with him.” Oh man, that’s what I was going to say. Those are good answers to that question, and are necessary answers to understand when we hear the answer that our lesson gives us today. What does Jesus mean to you? Jesus means so much to me that I see him in every single part of my life. I would rather lose anything or anyone than have them without Jesus. See him in private and in public.
- See him in private
If we are going to talk about seeing Jesus in private, we have to start at our most private place – home. In your most personal and private relationships, it is important to see Jesus. But seeing Jesus there could have some scary results. Jesus says that he turns parents against sons and daughters. That’s shocking. Doesn’t Jesus teach “honor your father and mother?” How could Jesus cause parent and son and daughter to turn on each other? I suppose it would be just as shocking as receiving an email and phone call from Grace Lutheran Church which says “Everyone stop coming to church!” But that happened too, didn’t it?
When we see these seemingly strange instructions, it’s usually because the first commandment fills Jesus’ words, “You shall have no other God. We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” We stopped coming to church back in March because that was the best way to fear, love and trust in God above all things. And in this situation, when a son or daughter turns against their parent, it is because of the first commandment too. That’s what Jesus means when he says, Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. When you consider what Jesus means to you, it can bring a sword even between the most private relationships.
What does Jesus mean to you? Don’t answer this question too quickly! Jesus wants us to think about what it means to have the number one place in your heart. 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. I love my mom and dad a whole lot! They raised me, they loved me, they still love me, I would do anything for them! And Jesus says, I get that, I want you to love them. But, in your private relationships I want you to see me.
In this sinful world, not everyone loves Jesus the way you do – including some of our closest, private relationships. For many people, Jesus is not #1. And so what will you do at the fork in the road, when Jesus leads you down the hard road that brings you closer to him, and your private relationship leads you down the easy road that leads you away from Jesus? Well can’t I just love them equally and hope that fork in the road never comes? Then our answer to the question “What does Jesus mean to you?” changes. No longer is he #1, but he’s tied for first, or maybe a close second, to that meaningful private life. And if anyone takes Jesus number one spot, the first commandment is broken, and we are not worthy of Jesus.
That’s the sword that Jesus is talking about. At the moment of truth, who is your #1? If the answer is Jesus, a painful sword might have to come to sever that closest, favorite, private relationship – even a sword between a Christian and their straying parent or son or daughter.
It’s a painful process. Jesus calls it a cross. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. There is risk in seeing Jesus in private. It separates you. Follow Jesus or follow along into breaking a commandment? Follow God’s will of how we speak and how we view marriage, or quietly entertain attitudes that go against God’s will? And most importantly, when you see Jesus in private, it makes you concerned about the souls of those people closest to you. You want him to mean something to them. Seeing Jesus compels us to talk about our faith in him.
Sometimes that other person does listen to you, or respects your decisions, but often, the consequences of Jesus entering a private relationship are hard. It’s painful when you can’t join another person because of Jesus. It hurts when siding with God’s word offends someone you care about. It is so sad when faith and unbelief damage a private relationship. Sometimes those broken relationships are the crosses we bear.
Carrying that cross is painful, and those hardships tempt us to live like the rest of the world, without Jesus as #1. But that kind of life that the world loves, will not last. 39Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Anyone who has that seemingly pleasant life without Jesus in it will lose eternal life in heaven. Don’t find your life on earth. What does Jesus mean to you? So much that you love him even more than your favorite, private life. It would be better to lose your whole life for Jesus’ sake, because Jesus is worth more than everything. He gave up his life for us. He showed you the most love, he loves you the best and he wants what is absolutely best for you. Jesus won you eternal life in heaven with a perfect relationship with your heavenly Father. Find your life in Jesus.
We love Jesus so much that we fear love and trust in him above all things, even above those we also love. When we see Jesus in private, we can lose a lot, but he makes sure we don’t lose eternal life with him. But loving Jesus isn’t just about losing. Jesus promises that there will be also others who love Jesus as much as we do. Jesus gives amazing blessings when we not only see him in private, but see him in public.
- See him in public
How can I use my public life to answer the question of what Jesus means to me? How can I best serve my Lord with what I do for the world to see day by day? The answer is different for everyone. Some answer by training for the public ministry, to serve the public with the words of God. But you don’t have to be in the public ministry to see Jesus in public in your life. When you want to see Jesus in public, you let your light shine in words and actions. It makes people see what Jesus means to you, especially, other Christians who do the same thing. Jesus draws people together. He creates new relationships. Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. When people strive to make Jesus a part of their public life, they work together to do that. This church is a gathering of people who very publicly see Jesus, and support and promote the public ministry so that we can serve the public with the word of God. Your relationship with every single person here and anyone you tell about your church and your relationship with your God is centered on seeing Jesus in public.
These efforts that you make are not worthless. Jesus takes note of everything you do. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. When you support and promote the spreading of God’s Word, there will be people who believe it and cherish it. When you see Jesus in public and serve Jesus with your life, there will be people who recognize that you follow Jesus. You just don’t know when that will be. But Jesus takes note of everything you do, 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” He even takes note of a small, insignificant act of love for the sake of Jesus.
Jesus knows what he means to you, and he will give you great rewards. He gives you great rewards because of what he has done for you. He trades your shortcomings for his righteousness so that you are a righteous person before God. And the people who have Jesus’ righteousness get the reward of heaven. And he gives you rewards even on top of heaven. He gives you blessings because you show Jesus what he means to you. He strengthens your faith to see him clearer. He works through the efforts you make. He doesn’t forget a single thing you have done for him, and he will richly reward you for every single one in heaven.
What does Jesus mean to you? Jesus means so much to me that I see him in every single part of my life. I would rather lose anything or anyone than have them without Jesus. We see him in private. Even when it puts strain on a relationship and it feels like a heavy cross, he means so much to us that we carry that cross to follow him. We see him in public. We let everyone see Jesus in how we act and how we promote his message with this church. And Jesus blesses and rewards us far beyond we deserve with his love for us. Amen.