Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Sermon June 27-28, 2020

Title: In Christ your reward is secure!
Text: Matt. 10:34-42

Facebook live: In Christ your reward is secure!

38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

In our Gospel lesson today Jesus makes some hard statements to his disciples. Jesus has been called and is the very “Prince of Peace” and yet He says, in the beginning of our text today, that …

He did not come to bring peace. He came to bring a sword.
He came to divide the disciple’s families and those that they will be bringing Good News to.
If they find their life they will lose it and lose their life they’ll find it.

What on Earth is Jesus getting at?

Earlier in the Tenth chapter of Matthew Jesus commissioned the twelve to go out. He gave them power and authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal disease. He sent them not to the Gentiles or Samaritans but only to the lost sheep of Israel. He warns them in Vs 16 and 17:

16 "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

There is the great truth that Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the Law, appease the wrath of God and to reconcile the relationship between God and man and He has done that, but also this work that Christ accomplished will have two different and distinct effects in the world.

The word of Christ will also divide the world as it will bring many by the gospel, to faith, while others who hear this message will reject it remaining in their sin.

It gets very personal for the disciples too as they go forth, pitting father against son, mother against daughter and mother-n-law against daughter-n-law. I can imagine one of the twelve speaking to a family the Good News about Jesus and seeing joy on the face of a father as he receives the Gospel by faith while his grown son walks away dismayed.

Or, a family that has the son and daughter joy in the blessings of Christ as father and mother complain that the old religion and customs were good enough for them. But then Jesus will bring his message extremely close to home for these twelve as well:

36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

To be a follower of Christ will require much sacrifice on the part of the disciples. These first pastors must take up their cross to follow him as Jesus will also, as Jesus prepares them for the ultimate sacrifice that he would make, when he picks up his cross and goes to the Mount of Calvary to suffer and die for the sins of the world.

These disciples and ultimately all who come to faith will be asked to bear our cross.

We too can feel for the disciples as they go forth. Many of you today see the same divisions in your families.

Father and son can see eye to eye when rooting for the home team or discussing where to take the family on vacation but when it comes to Jesus and discipleship … well we might see things differently.

Moms and daughters can talk like sisters about, life, love and fashion but as one gets ready to go to service on Sunday, the other might think it foolish to get up for church, when it would be better to sleep in after a late night out.

The truth of what it means to follow Christ will require each one of us to take up our cross, placing all our trust in Him who calls us to be His followers over the call of the world, the flesh and the Devil.

But what cross and what cost is Jesus speaking about? Christ is talking to you and me when He says:

34 I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

But the peace that the world wants and the peace that many of us give in to is to compromise God’s truth for the sake of peace, our peace. To water down God’s word or to turn our backs to sin, for the sake of the world, so as to be looked upon as loving in the eyes of those opposed to Christ, is the compromise the world desires.

To stand firm on the side of Christ demands the utmost fearlessness.

But who among us is fearless and what is this fearlessness? The disciples were given the answer from Jesus in verse 39.

39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Christ is the peace that truly passes all understanding. He is the strength and fearlessness that goes out into the world proclaiming the Good News. In the face of rejection and fear He will keep these twelve strong so that while they stand against adversity it will be in him that they stand. Jesus has guaranteed that they will have life forever with Him because He will keep them in Him even in the face of persecution and death.

Jesus comforts them:

40 "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.

Jesus Christ will go to the ends of the Earth bringing Good News to those dead in sin and in need of forgiveness through these twelve ambassadors. Because Christ came to live, suffer, die and rise again for the sins of the world many, who hear this Good News proclaimed, will come to faith in Him. They will receive Christ by receiving those who stand in the place and by the command of Jesus and in so doing receive the Father who sent him. 

Jesus Christ will continue to stand for these little ones who bring His saving message to the lost and all who receive them receive him who sent them and the blessing of life in him for all who by faith receive this Good News.

We too are promised the same reward as those who first heard the Good News proclaimed from the mouths of the twelve that went out. The Holy Spirit confirms your place in the household of God when you, through the power of the Holy Spirit by faith, reject the compromises that the world demands but cling instead to Christ and His precious word for your eternal well being and true peace.

Martin Luther put it this way in speaking of true spiritual peace:

Therefore if sin presses you, if death or hell or danger of any sort or a temptation of the devil distresses you, you must turn your eyes away from the evil that is afflicting you and direct yourself with all your might to the promise of God. For in them you find rest and peace and joy of soul which all hell is unable to take away from you.

Dear friends, true peace comes from God and it has been given you who believe and cling to Jesus and His cross by faith.

Rejoice that in Him you to will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, endure the trials of this world confident in the promise of Christ.
Proclaim this Good News to friends and family alike, knowing that it is the will of God that all would come to a knowledge of the truth by the working of the Spirit.

Let the word of God comfort you in the difficulties you face in this life, because they are only temporary because the blessing and promise of being with Christ in Heaven is eternal.

Rejoice in the truth that your home awaits you in Heaven where Jesus has prepared a place for you and for all who by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit believe.

In the name of the Father and on the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!


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