Read Matthew 10
Do you remember these words from the previous section?
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
In the brief moment between these words and the next, the warrior spirit in some of the disciples surely surfaced. Finally, we get to kick some Roman butt. Finally, we can reclaim our land and our ways and dispense with those who rejoice in having conquered our land.
Surely, it seemed that Jesus was ready to take his rightful place and lead his people to run the Romans out of town, out of the country, out of their lives.
The man who stilled the storm and brought a girl back from death could surely defeat the hated Romans. I enjoyed the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day this week. As Jesus is speaking, I can hear the words Fix Bayonets rippling through the divine ranks.
They didn’t have bayonets back then, but draw sword doesn’t pack the same punch.
If there was such a machismo moment among the disciples, it was short-lived. Jesus continued.
For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
That’s a civil war not the expulsion of oppressive conquerors. What is Jesus talking about?
And then in rapid succession, we get some very demanding direction.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
We love our families. How could we not love our kids most of all—excepting the teenage years, of course. How could we not love our parents who brought us into this world more than anyone?
Jesus was serious about God being first. Love God, seek God, obey God, bring glory to God with everything you have. God doesn’t do second place.
Love your family to the moon and back, but love God first and most. God is first! How do I put him first?
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
That’s a challenge for discussion. Jesus used metaphor and hyperbole. The disciples did not always understand what Jesus was talking about. Parables were especially tough for them, but this one has challenged disciples through the ages.
What is it to pick up your cross? Jesus would die on a cross. He had to carry his own cross to the place he was lifted up on it, but those things were yet to come at his point. Let’s try to understand it in conjunction with the next statement of our Lord.
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
God must be first. We get that. We sometimes struggle with that, but we know it to be true. He also wants genuine followers. We are not to be doubting disciples. We trust in the Lord. We trust in his word. We put his words into practice.
Sometimes it seems that we seek nothing for ourselves. We follow Jesus. We live for him. Our hearts desire to bring glory to him. We are very close to being myopic about our discipleship. We belong to and live for God.
In so doing, we discover life, and life abundant, and rejoice in the promise of life eternal. We stop gratifying the carnal nature that rules the world, and has ruled in our own lives at some point, and we embrace God’s nature and follow God faithfully in everything we do and in everything we are.
We give up living for ourselves and live completely for God and in so doing discover life.
We seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness and in so doing we receive the things that we need that the godless have made into their gods.
When we live completely for God then we live completely.