Sunday 25 June 2017

Bible Book:

“Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (v. 39)

Matthew 10:24-39 Sunday 25 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 86


Today is the day on which ministers, both presbyters anddeacons, are received into Full Connexion at the MethodistConference and ordained, so a passage from Matthew 10 is veryappropriate. Here Jesus gathers the twelve, gives them authorityand sends them out (Matthew 10:1-23). They are appointed by name(see Isaiah 43) as today's newly-ordained ministersare.

Jesus gives detailed instructions and warnings about the perilsof their mission. Compare this with the demands of Methodistministry as listed in the ordinals in the MethodistWorship Book on pages 302 (presbyters) and 317 (deacons). InMatthew's Gospel, it is all set in the urgency of apocalypticexpectation - see verse 23, for example.

Today's passage starts at verse 24; verses 24-25 emphasising thenewly-commissioned disciples' role as Jesus' representatives. Inverses 26 onwards, Jesus encourages them to be bold in speaking forhim and about him, and assures them of God's close, personalattention to them as individuals.

There is an emphasis on the very common biblical theme "do notbe afraid". It is a thread running through both the Old and the NewTestaments, and you can probably think of many instances. Ministry,mission, life itself, can be scary. Awareness of one's mortalityand vulnerability can freeze the spirit. The wonderful gifts ofconsciousness and knowledge of our mortality are frightening thingswith which to cope. The loving care and eternal promises of Godneed to be repeatedly held before the disciple. And in the closingverses of today's passage, Jesus reminds us of the serious andscary impact of encountering God in Christ. Such holiness andrighteousness, utterly good though they are, can bring division,even among close relations and friends. And the passage ends withthe most demanding call on faith: to let go of life because that isthe way to find it.

Today's psalm, 86, is a classic statement of trust in God in theface of life's sheer scariness. We are utterly dependent on theLord. And Fred Kaan's hymn God, when I came into this life is a brilliantexploration of realistic personal commitment, particularlyappropriate for this day.

To Ponder

  • As you pray for those being ordained today, consider what yourChristian commitment means for the way you will live your life thisweek.
  • How does the apocalyptic flavour of Matthew 10 help or hinderyou in responding to the call of God in Christ on your life?

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