TEXTMatthew 10: 24-39
QUESTIONWhat should we do if people abuse us verbally for our faith?
ASSERTIONThe writer of Matthew teaches his congregation that they need to expect verbal and physical abuse, the Thirteenth Beneciction. If the Master was not spared this kind of gossip and slander, this name calling and “smash talk,” the followers of the Master can expect the same.
INVITATIONJesus taught us a better way. Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek, and pray for those who persecute them.
Move 1 Introduction
Matthew’s community of believers in Christ we enduring unprecedented persecution. This persecution was not from the Romans. They were being persecuted and verbally abused by the very people they loved most. Our passage this morning brought them comfort and hope. Listen with me for the Word of God in Matthew 10: 24-39:
“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 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. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father 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. 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 one’s foes will be members of one’s 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 up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:24-39, NRSV)
Prayer for Enlightenment
Move 2 The Thirteenth Benediction
The customary understanding of benediction is blessing. We hear it over and over again in the Beatitudes: Blessed are:
•Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
But there was another benediction written about the time Matthew was preaching. It was called the Thirteenth Benediction. And it was no blessing. It was a curse against all believers in Christ spoken near the end of worship in many Jewish synagogues. Remember, the first Christians were Jewish believers in Christ and they worshiped in the synagogues right alongside other Jews.
Men, women and children who believed and trusted in the resurrection of Jesus were being driven out of the synagogues. They were denied the privilege of offering sacrifice at the Temple. And their dead were denied burial in sacred tombs. The Thirteenth Benediction declared open season on Believers in Christ everywhere.
Move 3 Family Persecution
The persecution was not limited to worship and the synagogue. There was anarchy even in families. Mothers turned against daughters, and daughters against mothers. Brothers and sisters turned against each other and against their parents. Families were torn apart by belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
During the French Revolution neighbors were suspicious of neighbors. Men and women were guillotined for one report that they talked to the wrong person or helped a hungry or wounded soldier.
During WWII which German children captivated by Nazi propaganda turned their parents in as political dissenters. And parents afraid of the Gestapo turned their children in for talking to Jews.
Or, in our own civil war brother fought against brother. Whole families were divided by the passion of the oratory on both sides of slavery and secession.
Move 4 Beelzebul,
The Chief Priests and Rulers said Jesus cast out demons and healed people by the ruler of all demons. This was such a vicious attack the Priests were forbidden to even utter the name, Beelzebul. The writer of Matthew teaches his congregation that they need to expect this kind of attack, the Thirteenth Beneciction. If the Master was not spared this kind of gossip and slander, this name calling and “smash talk,” the followers of the Master can expect the same.
Move 5 But We Must Do Better
Followers of Christ today, even pastors, suffer this same kind of malicious blather. Sad to say, even in church there are people who spread vile lies and innuendo about their leaders and brothers and sisters in Christ. But we are called to better. Jesus said blessed are the peace makers, blessed are the meek, and blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Jesus taught us a better way. Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek, and pray for those who persecute them. Jesus taught his Disciples this:
14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.
As followers of Christ we must do better.