We enjoyed some quiche, cheese & crackers, strawberry rhubarb pie, and blueberry coffee cake. Continuing our study through the Gospel According to Matthew, we began with the calling of the twelve apostles in verses one through four.
This led to a discussion about the difference between a disciple and an apostle. According to Dr. D. James Kennedy, a disciple is a follower and learner. By that definition, we are disciples of Jesus Christ. An apostle is someone called for a specific mission with a specific message. The twelve were apostles by this definition. Jesus prepared them for their mission in the following verses.
Here were instructions on what to bring/not to bring, how to greet people in new places, and where to stay. Dealing with the rejection of them and their message, Jesus commanded them to shake off the dust, symbolizing that they had been there to share the good news, but the inhabitants rejected it and them. We went back to Genesis 19:1-29 to read about Sodom and Gomorrah for context. Despite the wickedness of those cities, they would have a more tolerable judgment than those who reject the message of Jesus Christ.
Jesus gives us full disclosure. If we follow Him, we WILL be persecuted. Some will be martyred. But He will be with us. We don’t have to think about what to say to our captors. He will give us the words when we need them. Today there are many places where faith in Jesus Christ is illegal. We should pray for our brothers and sisters in those dangerous places.
We are in a spiritual battle, and those who follow Jesus will be hated by those who do not. Even close family ties will not keep haters of Jesus from harming Jesus’ disciples. This may not happen to us in as extreme ways as it does others, but Jesus wanted to prepare us for the rejection of our family who do not choose to follow Him. He assures us that our enduring faith in Him will be rewarded by salvation.
FEAR NOT! Jesus gave us all the information so we would not be blindsided. But this information is not to make us afraid. Just prepared. He is assuring us that He cares for us so much that he keeps count of our hairs! If we stick with Jesus, He will stick with us!
Verse thirty-four may seem to contradict other passages, but it does not. Jesus did come to bring peace. He wants us to have peace with God. He wants EVERYONE to have peace. But it is a choice. Those who reject Him choose to be against Him and His followers. Therefore, Jesus is saying when we choose to follow Him, we will be at odds with those who reject Him. Choosing Jesus is the best decision we could ever make, but the day we choose Jesus is the day we take up our cross, carrying it figuratively to remind us that our lives belong to Him. We will have peace with God and peace with His followers. We will live peaceably, but the world will be at war with us.
Jesus promises rewards for serving Him, serving others, and giving our lives for Him. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We minister to each other and to the hurting world in His name. We will be rewarded one day. He promised!