Summary: No matter what happens in the course of our daily lives, we can be confident that today and tomorrow are in God’s gracious hands.
Lectionary 12 A
There is an old, old story that is told about a couple that were walking out of church one Sunday morning when the wife suddenly turned to her husband and said to him, “John, did you see the strange hat Mrs. O’Brien was wearing in Church today?” Without hesitation John said to her, “No honey, I did not!” as he continued to walk to the car.
Frustrated at her husband’s lack of response she then said to him; “Well did you notice that Mr. Smith badly needs a hair cut?” “No, I did not!” John again replied as he opened the car door for her to get inside.
Disturbed now at her husbands lack of interest she waited until her husband got behind the wheel of the car before she said to him; “You know dear, sometimes I wonder if you get anything at all out of going to Church.”
And the moral of the story is this: “Sometimes people get different things out of going to Church, depending upon what they expect to receive when they get there.”
Well sometimes people not only get different things out of going to Church but can even be shocked at what they hear being said at Church even when what they hear is a direct quote from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Take our reading from the Gospel according to Matthew for example. Listen to these words: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”
Now I don’t know about you but at first glance these words from Jesus appear to be out of character for Him. After all, we know and love Jesus as the Prince of Peace, and as the one who greets His disciples “Peace Be With You,” and as the one that teaches us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So these words can be shocking and troubling to us.
But upon closer examination these words are appropriate because Jesus is urging His disciples not to be afraid of passing on the “Good News” of the gospel. For you see after Jesus had called His disciples together in order to send them out into the mission field, Jesus warned them of the costs of being associated with Him.
And Jesus knew that the “Cost of Discipleship” would be very great and that we who follow Him would naturally be scared to death at the prospect of facing the many challenges and threats to our lives without the direct physical presence and strength of Jesus.
And so Jesus offered these words of comfort and explained to His disciples that they need not fear those who might react violently to the gospel message because even though they might destroy the body they could never destroy the soul.
And even though a man might react violently against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, Jesus assures us that we are very valuable to our Father in Heaven.
Listen to these words: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
As we journey together in the ministry the Lord has given to us it is a comfort to know that we are very precious to God, and that God even knows the number of hairs we have on our heads.
One text that I like to use that explains today’s gospel message well is Matthew 6:25-34. The text states: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like on of these.”
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?”