Posted by on Jun 19, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Being a Disciple

Good morning!!! Welcome to the 3rd Sunday of Pentecost AND Father’s Day! What a good time to be able to remember and thank our fathers for their care and guidance in our lives. May you all have a GREAT day!

Our gospel reading for this morning is from Matthew 10:24-39. Dear Lord…as we read your word this morning, please open our minds to what you want us to hear and what you want us to do in your world. Speak to each one of us today and every day as we work with and see your people.

Remember from last week’s gospel reading, Jesus was beginning to send out his disciples to fulfill the commission he gave to them to teach, heal and work with the people of Israel. This was the first time that the disciples would be on their own in bringing the message of hope and forgiveness through baptism to the people. We will be seeing Jesus’ teachings and trainings of the disciples as we continue through this season.

As we talked a few weeks ago, Jesus used parables and comparisons to teach the people and the disciples. Utilizing those “tools” he could get the point across to the listeners without immediately creating opposition to what he was saying.

In our reading for today, Jesus begins by stating that a disciple is not to hold himself higher than the teacher or anyone else. They are not to think that they are “special” in any way as life will not be easy for them. The disciple is to be like everyone else…and not search for notoriety.
The statement that can be a little disturbing, but as we look at it more, Jesus says that if the master has given honor to the devil (Beelzebul), the other members of the house need to be aware that they, too, will be maligned and treated badly.

What he is REALLY saying is that the disciples will be facing opposition. The disciples are to function like prophets. He is telling the disciples that even thought they will be threatened, the actions of those threatening them are known. He is assuring the disciples to not be afraid as all that is done to them will be known.

Jesus is also telling the disciples that they are to tell people whatever he tells them…no matter whether it is at night, what other people say, what is whispered. The words Jesus tells them are to be shouted from the housetops. He is telling them that fear may be a normal reaction for those they are speaking to, but to not be afraid. Verse 34 says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Very powerful statement.

There are several truths we see in this passage. The first truth is that the identity of Jesus and his disciples will be revealed and they are to be bold and what He has told them. The second truth is that the fear of God will supersede the fear of opposition and that they are to continue their mission. The third truth is that God is aware of the distress the disciples will experience and will care for them. They are to confess Jesus before people.

To understand the next verses, we need to look briefly at how families were thought of and considered in Jesus time. During this time, the family was owed the first loyalty and total attachment. If you were born into a family, you stayed with that family for your whole life.

The main social attachment at this time was kinship, or family. It was primary and took precedence over all other relationships. If a member of a family showed loyalty to someone outside the family, they would be turned away. If a family was not opening their windows and doors during the day, the people around them were sure that the family was trying to hide something. If the family was trying to be “private” about something, the rest of the community was suspicious of them. These people knew nothing about privacy.

So, what Jesus is now telling the disciples is that when people want to follow them and be baptized, they are now part of God’s family. This could mean that they would be turned away by their own family and ostracized. I’m sure that at this point, the disciples realized this concept as they had all left their own families to follow Jesus. They left the fishing, the farming, everything they grew up with to follow Jesus.

Knowing this, as we look at verses 35 and 36, we can understand what Jesus is saying to the followers. Jesus came to separate families to have disciples to minister to the people….as the harvest was plentiful. The family members may be at odds with them because they would be part of God’s family and believers in the gospel. At this point, the disciples would be taking up the cross and would lose their life in “this” world. He is saying they would gain all by giving up their current life for Jesus.

We, in our world, may not have to actually leave our families to follow Jesus. Some of them may not be happy that we are going to be a disciple, if we tell them. But, we do not have the same issues as those of ancient Israel had. What then, are we to take from today’s reading?

Jesus is telling the disciples and us…that we are to go out. We are to listen and be aware of other people. We are not to be afraid of what Jesus wants us to see or to say. The words come from Him. He is protecting us and guiding us.

I know you all can think of a time or an occurrence when you were very surprised by either the incident or the outcome. You can remember a time when you weren’t sure what you were going to say…but the words “just came” to you!

Do our actions and words, even when they come from directions from God, divide people, hurt people by reminding them of issues? One of our responsibilities in being disciples is to call out injustice and oppression and do something about it. This, too, is what Jesus was telling the disciples, in meaning, not specific words, that what they would be saying would not be hidden but would begin a change.

This week, I attended a FB live discussion arranged by Bishop Laurie with several people of the African American descent. The Bishop was asking them to state their concerns in several areas to begin the discussion on how we as the Iowa Methodists could begin to eliminate racism between people.

It was fairly easy to determine in listening that the lack of action in making changes…even though we all heard what was being said was frustrating to the people. Do we refuse to acknowledge that a change is needed and that we need to be part of the change in our actions, words and thoughts?

One of the participants started off by saying that it was uncomfortable for her to come into a room and discover that she was the only person of color in the room. She was nervous about her acceptance, etc. Later that evening, I had the thought. What if I were the only white person in a room full of people of color? How would I feel? Would I be thrown out? Would I be accepted?
What if we put ourselves in the shoes of the people of color when we are viewing some of the events of these past weeks? What would we want to help change? Would we want things to stay as they have been for years and years?

What other situations can we think of that this same concept could be applied to? In other words, when we see something we don’t completely “understand”, can we put ourselves in their situation to try to understand? This is what Jesus was also very subtly asking the disciples to do. Understand the situation the people were in….proclaim the message God gave them…and know God is protecting them. Put themselves in the person’s situation to try to begin the understanding and healing.

How can we move forward with honest, open discussions? Can we accept that things that happened in the past were demeaning to people and these haven’t changed?

I truly believe that if we, as a church, are honest with ourselves and honest in wanting open discussions, we can become part of the change….the real change.

Dear Lord….show us the way we can be part of the change needed in our world. Remind us that we are protected and that the moves will not be easy, but we carry the sword that Jesus brought to create change in his world.

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