Matthew 10: 24 – 39
BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY
Introduction: Have you ever tried to condense many thoughts and feelings into a very short and memorable form?
For example, Can you imagine putting a lifetime of advice to a child in a postcard?
In a sense, that is what Jesus is doing in this text. He is giving a lifetime of instructions to his disciples. He is giving instructions to the disciples to prepare them for the hostility and suffering they will encounter on their mission, and he is trying to help them maintain a hold on the valid life they have experienced together.
If we look at his teachings in this manner, it does not seem so much a rambling of sayings but more like shorthand instructions. He is giving his disciples bread for the journey, especially the kind you can drop behind you to help you find your way back.
Lesson 1: On the journey, we WILL encounter opposition.
1. We will be hated and called names, names hurt, being misunderstood hurts,
2. We will be seen as something other than we believe ourselves to be.
3. We will suffer:
4. Our enemies will be that of our own household.
5. Jesus was called the devil himself. We are not above the teacher.
This statement is a call for each of us to experience the fullness of life as he led it. We should not assume that we will not have to suffer since Jesus took care of everything. Jesus is telling us that our lives will not be easier than his, and he urges us to embrace the life of faith with all of its pain and glory.
Lesson 2: On the Journey, we will encounter God’s Love
1. Jesus urges the disciples to have no fear of those who abuse us.
a. Jesus is insistent about fear, so much so that he repeats is three times (vs 26,28,31.)
2. He encourages them to speak boldly the things they have previously discussed privately, without regard of local authorities and to remember that they are answerable only to God, who alone has the power over both body and soul.
3. Jesus takes time to tell them how precious they are to God, reminding them the eye is on the sparrow and they are of much greater value. Then challenges them to hold fast to their faith and acknowledge him before others.
4. These words still challenge us today. Our cultural indifferences to religious values leads many of us, even clergy, to not mention prayers answered, we don’t tell of moments of spiritual insight or share the poignant moment in church, nor do we talk if the struggle in the life of faith; we simply let the moment pass. We don’t do it because we are afraid of what others might think. Yet Jesus warns of spiritual consequences if we deny our allegiance to him. He urges us to break out of fear.
Lesson 3: On the journey, we will encounter decisions
1. Jesus continues by challenging the disciples in their allegiances. He states the strain that their new life in the gospel will place on their strongest loyalties. He pits true discipleship against any bond of affection and family fidelity that would stand between the disciple and the life of faith.
2. Finally, Jesus issues the ultimate challenge to those who would follow him: that of picking up our individual crosses and being willing to lose our lives in the service of his greater life among us.
Conclusion: These words for the disciples are still relevant for disciples today. Jesus is calling us to a more open proclamation of what we value most, to move beyond fear and the tired emptiness that consumes our culture. If we listen and follow, we can find our way back into the freshness and fullness of his extravagant life.