Summary: Our role in taking on the burdens of others and living a Christian life.
2nd Pentecost 11
Life and simple acts of kindness.
Mathew 10: 40-42
This morning’s gospel is one of the shortest in the lectionary only being 2 verses long so I wanted to back up and take in two more verses so that this will make more sense to you the hearer.
38* and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39* He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. 40* "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41* He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42* And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." RSV
In this section, Jesus is speaking about the "life of burdens" that a Christian lives. He is talking about suffering and hardship.
Dietrich Bonheoffer the German theologian once wrote to his sister saying: "It is good to learn early enough that suffering and God are not a contradiction but rather a unity, for the idea that God himself is suffering is one that has always been one of the most convincing teachings of Christianity. I think God is nearer to suffering than to happiness, and to find God in this way gives peace and rest and a strong and courageous heart."
We live a life which is filled with the reality of living in a sinful and less than perfect world. Jesus is speaking about what has come to be called, "a theology of the cross"!! This theology says that through the brokenness of this world, through "crosses" life will be redeemed and renewed. Jesus is reminding the disciples and us that life is not easy. Living on this earth is very difficult. You and I will have "crosses" to bear. Life will not be easy. Living as a Christian, as a believer, in this world with the power of Satan to harness, means of life that is difficult, a "A Life of Burdens".
Sometimes, I think, Satan works extra hard to drive those away who are the most faithful to Christ. It seems that Satan is alive and well especially in the church. Jesus knew that. He knew life would be difficult for His followers especially after He ascended into heaven. Jesus speaks about this difficult life over and over again in the gospels.
In Matthew 16:24-28 He says, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Again in Mark 8: 34 and in Luke 9:23-27 and again in Luke 14:25-27, he says the same thing. This theme of a "rough road" is repeated again and again in the gospels.
Not only does this theme of cross bearing appear again and again, but also the idea of division, of a sword appears all over the gospels, as in this text for today and in Matt. 10: 21 it says, "Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death." And we find similar text in Mark, Luke as well as John. Also in the Old Testament we find such texts as in Micah 7:1-7 and we could go on and on.
Do you see, do you get the point!!! Jesus is saying life will not be easy as you follow me. Don’t look for a life of roses; don’t look for the easy way, but the narrow road. Carry your cross, be ready to defend your faith against even your father and mother, your children, your friends against all these we need to be able to defend our faith. I remember when I first started in the ministry my family was not totally for it, I chose not to argue but rather to continue to live my faith in front of them. Today they are far more accepting of me and respect my beliefs.
Not only did Jesus tell His disciples about the kind of life they would live for Him, but on Good Friday, He demonstrated that life by dying on a cross, by experiencing death, by facing pain, by being humiliated as He died a death of a criminal. This was not an easy life; this was a life of burdens for Jesus.
A pastor wrote: I think that pain and suffering is the price we pay for being alive. Being alive means living with original sin and the mighty power of Jesus’ death on the cross. When we understand that, our question will change to, What do we do with our suffering and pain? Our pain and suffering must become meaningful. It must not become pointless and empty suffering? How can we turn all the painful experiences of our lives into personal growth within our selves and within our relationship with God? We may never understand the why or be able to control the forces that cause our suffering. But one thing is for sure. We can have a lot to say about what the suffering does to us. We can determine what sort of people we become because of it. Pain makes some people bitter and envious. It makes others sensitive and compassionate. It is left up to us how we grow in our relationship with God.