May 1st, 2021

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A Note from Pastor Lou: Truly # 52 -- Sent to Share His Gifts

 Sent to Share His Gifts                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5.01.2021  

             


And whoever gives one of these little ones
even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple,
truly, I say to you,
he will by no means lose his reward.”

Matthew 10:42

          These words conclude chapter 10 of Matthew's gospel.  The chapter begins with Jesus selecting twelve men from the group following him as disciples.   He then sends these twelve men out on a "dry run," so to speak, to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons" (v.9) and above all, proclaim "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," (v.7).  Chosen from the disciples, these men are "the apostles."  Disciple in Greek means student, a learner of the "discipline;"  and apostle means "one who is sent," the Greek verb to send being apostello.

           So Jesus instructs his apostles, warns them of persecution and suffering to come, and reassures them with his promises.  As we have seen, this chapter has a pair of powerful promises.  The apostles are representatives of Jesus, and thus also of the Father.  Those who refuse to welcome the apostles are also refusing Jesus, and the One who sent Jesus (the Father).  This is not a good thing.  Those who reject the apostles and this message will regret it, "It will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town," (v.5)  There is also the promise that there will always be a need for proclamation in this old world.  "You will not go through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes," (v. 23).

           Jesus is truthful and pulls no punches.  Those who follow him can expect to be persecuted and hated by the world.  The world has all kinds of schemes and agendas by which people believe they are creating heaven here on earth, or "earning the right" to some heaven of their own imagining.  To sinners engaged in their own "salvation projects," the proclamation of the arrival of the kingdom of God by the grace of God, by the forgiveness of sins, by the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God who rose from the dead, is most certainly bad news and most unwelcome.  After all, it is only reasonable that God expects people to make things right by good works overcoming evil, or at least righting all injustice here on this old earth.  No -- Jesus' radical message that God is solving the problem of sin and death in the world by His actions, that the blessing of this is yours by trusting it is finished in Jesus Christ is just too much for us sinners to bear.  So with sinners down through the ages, we cry "What must we do to be saved?"

           The end of chapter ten answers that question simply and starkly.  Verse 40 says "Whoever receives you, receives me, and whoever receives me receives Him who sent me." We receive Jesus, we receive what he has to give.  Simple and straight forward.  God does not desire the death of a sinner (Ezekiel 33:11);  Jesus wants you.  But there must be something, anything, I must do, says the sinner.  Jesus responds, You will do all kinds of things in my name.  In fact, God has appointed things for us to do, (Ephesians 2:10).  Jesus' final word on the subject is therefore "Whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."

           The Greek words here are very emphatic.  Where we say "by no means," the Greek uses a double negative, ou mh (oo may) -- "no, not ever."   Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 8:38-39).   Nothing, ou mh

           You belong to Jesus.  Don't let the world tell you any different.  Ou mh.

      Remember Whose you are,

               Pastor Lou