Today in God’s Word
Genesis 11; Matthew 10
Chapter 10 of Matthew is about mission. Jesus sends those whom he has called and he gives them authority to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom (cf. Matt 9:35, 10:7). Jesus prepares them for the conflict that comes with this gospel message by warning them of the persecution and arming them with confidence. He presents them with the all-knowing and all-powerful Father who has sent Jesus and he assures them that if they stand with him in this life he will stand with them in the next life (cf. Matt 10:32). Jesus clarifies that the message they are taking to the lost sheep of the house of Israel is a message that will divide and not a message of peace. But it takes sacrifice of personal comfort and a devotion to follow Jesus to the hard places…places where one must choose obedience to Christ over all that life can offer. This is the one who truly lives…it is the one who dies to this life and lives unto God (cf. Gal 2:20; Rom 6:11).
Interesting is the consideration of the message carried by the 12 disciples in this chapter. Jesus has not died yet and there is no resurrection yet. There is no gospel message as we know it, so what is this “gospel of the kingdom”? From Matt 10:7 it sounds like it is the same message that John the Baptist preached, which was “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (cf. Matt 3:2). To restate the message seems something like “Turn from your sin, return to God because the Messiah has come”…”the time has arrived”…”today is the day of salvation”. It is as-if the message from chapter 9 where fasting is on-hold while the bridegroom is present is also impacting the message of the gospel. There will be a time for speaking of trust in his death and resurrection, but for now let us be amazed and let us come to terms with the fact that God is with us!
And how odd would it be as a disciple of Jesus to hear him reference the Roman execution method of the cross and suggest that one must pick this up, as if to say you must die a suffering and shameful death, in order to follow Jesus? They did not know how Jesus would die or the significance of the cross at this point. It is the one who receives this message who receives the Father and the Son and who will reap the reward of life. It is the one who receives Christ as more valuable than anything life can offer or death can take away…it is the one who receives Christ as their treasure who will be rewarded with their treasure forevermore. Indeed we must die to live.
Soli Deo Gloria!