Gospel Text: Matthew 10: 24-39
Peace and Grace to you from God the Father, and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!
Boy, I'm glad my in-laws aren't here this morning! Now, there's nothing wrong with my in-laws, I actually really like them. But today's gospel text is one where if you had family visiting, and you knew that this would be the gospel lesson being read, you might want to have everyone sleep in. Jesus uses harsh language here, which may make you think I'm reading from the wrong bible. But Jesus is doing this to make a point. So, let's look into this.
Now, last week, we heard about how Jesus was sending out his newly called disciples into the world, and this week is a continuation of just that. Jesus tells his disciples to not be afraid of the world that they are going out into. The things that he taught them, they should teach to others. What was whispered in the dead of the night, they should shout to the world in broad daylight! Jesus told his disciples to not be afraid of those who could kill just their bodies, but to beware the demons that can destroy both body and soul. It's not the people of this world they should be afraid of!
So, we're already in uncomfortable territory. You mean to tell me Jesus wants us to tell others about him and God, even if we get mocked? But why? Jesus says this: "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.” Yikes! And then Jesus goes on to say that “"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Wait. Where is the Jesus that we know and love? Where is the gentle lamb that we talk about almost every other Sunday? Well, Jesus is still here with us today, and his word comes in the message that we still share everywhere. But why does Jesus seem so harsh? I have trouble with this saying of Jesus. I resist it a lot, not only because it sounds so wrong is so many ways. I resist it because deep down I know it’s true. And That’s what happens when the truth gets told. When the truth is let loose. When the truth is finally uttered.
Because when you are called to speak your truth, stand up for what you believe, a calm and untroubled reception is not always the result. Or, in the words of Angie Thomas, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
Dear friends, I want to let you in on a little secret for my sermon writing. Whenever I'm sitting down to write, there are two questions that I ask. The first and foremost is “What is the “for you” statement? That is, what is it that is doing FOR YOU or FOR US that is so important that I would talk about it for ten minutes. The second question that I ask is: as a Lutheran, how do I balance law and gospel of this text. That is, how do I take the rules as well as the good news of Christ, and present them in a message. So, let me answer the second question, and then I'll come back to the first.
The question of law and gospel today is what does Jesus want from us? What Jesus wants from us is Justice. Justice for the poor, justice for the needy, justice for the hurting and broken. It's easy to look at the news, say “how sad” and go back to work. It's easy see pain and hurt in the world, and walk away. It's easy to go from day to day, head down, charging forward, never seeing those around us. What's not easy is doing something. I once heard that in any given situation there are three things that you can do, the right thing, the wrong thing, and nothing. The best thing to do is the right thing. The second best thing to do is the wrong thing, you might learn something. The worst thing that you can do is nothing. By doing nothing, you stay in the same old cycles. By doing nothing, anything that could make life better for someone else won't happen. And by doing nothing, according to Jesus in today's passage, we are losing our lives.
Alright, that answers one question. The other question, more importantly, is what is the FOR YOU in all of this. The FOR YOU is that because of who Christ is, we can be who we are. Apart from Christ we can do nothing. The title of Christian breaks down to mean “little Christ.” Now, where do we see THAT in our gospel? “"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.” You see, God has done great things in each of our lives, and has freed us so that we do great things for others. God knows and cares for each one of us, down to the hairs on our heads. And because God cares for us, we are free. We are free to be like Jesus, our master and teacher in this world, bringing comfort, healing, and justice where it is needed most.
Dear Friends in Christ, it is enough that we are to be like Christ. It is enough that we try to bring justice to the world, and we try to do the right thing. The world is hurting. And sometimes it hurts right outside our front door. But because of what God is doing in our lives, we can be the people of Christ in the world. I believe in the ability of all of us to make the world a better place.. So, go, people of God. Strive for justice. Be like Christ the teacher. Don't be afraid of the world pushing back, God knows your value, you are worth more than many sparrows. Apart from God, we can do nothing. But with God, we can do great things. So go, find your life in God. Do the right things, learn from the wrong things, and never do nothing.
Thanks be to God, Amen.