Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Matthew 10

This chapter contains extended instructions from Jesus for the Apostles (literally means "sent ones") who are about to go out on their first missionary expedition. The instructions have to do with protocol for the preacher, being aware that trouble is coming, recognizing that human authority is not the one to be concerned with, and, finally, an instruction regarding the divisiveness of the message of the gospel.

The instructions regarding the mission of the twelve emphasize the urgency of their journey. They are not to travel in comfort -- the message is so urgent they must not tarry in places but keep moving. They are to live off of whatever is offered and if a town or village does not want to receive them they are to walk away and keep moving. The importance of getting the message to all corners of the "lost sheep" of the house of Israel out weighs all other concerns.

The Apostles are reminded (16-25) that those who are vested in the current religious and political systems will reject them and will work against them. Jesus tells them to keep moving, endure the persecution for the sake of the Kingdom and to remember that Jesus himself is not treated any better than they are -- a disciple is not above his teacher, if they treat me like this they will treat you the same.

The Church of Jesus Christ falls quickly into institutional ossification. We very quickly forget to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and become employment agencies for clergy.We quickly forget that the message of Jesus Christ is for everyone and find ourselves changing the gospel to be pleasing to the ears of those with vested interests in the current system. We forget the mission and protect the organization. Periodically God sends renewal to his churches. Renewal means change and renewal is always met with distrust, resistance, and difficulty. We who are in the midst of renewal are reminded in this passage to not worry about the struggle and to remember that the one we belong to and the one who calls us in infinitely greater than the immediate struggles we might face.

The gospel is divisive (34-39) not because Jesus expects his followers to be causing fights in their families and among their friends, but because of the very nature of the Kingdom of the Heavens. When our lives are changed others look with suspicion (and perhaps envy). As our lives are further transformed our families and communities fight to bring us back to "the way things were." We are not the ones driving the wedge but the wedge is inevitable.

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