Whoever Loves The Father David N. Mosser March 1, 2005 Matthew 10:24-39 This lesson from Matthew is a difficult word. Jesus has been instructing His disciples – the Twelve – and notes that there will be coming persecutions for these disciples who also have a mission to accomplish. Jesus also encourages them to have no fear. We will carefully examine the lesson’s portion concerning the cost of discipleship. In verses 34-36, Jesus interprets Micah 7:6, which reads: “For the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household.” Micah prophesies society’s collapse at the advent of the end-times. Jesus also suggests that the “good news” may have distressing side-effects. The gospel’s good news creates division even within families. Some will accept the message of Jesus and its demands, while others resist Jesus’ gospel way. Those who follow Jesus must put loyalty to Christ above even their own family loyalties. Following Jesus involves the risk of death and Jesus states that those who do “not take up the cross and follow me are not worthy of me.” Finally, Jesus provides a paradox that teaches: If people’s aim is to preserve their earthly life, they will lose everything, but those willing to die for Jesus will find eternal life. It is puzzling to most of us, however, that Jesus would say things like “I have come to set a man against his father,” “one’s foes will be members of one’s own household” and “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” Is this the same Jesus who tells us to love one another? One of the law’s cardinal values is to “honor father and mother.” Jesus even chastised the Pharisees and scribes in Mark about this very thing (see: Mark 7:9-13). This is a puzzle, but a perspective on “the final days” offers the clue to the puzzle. Jesus believes in family ties, but he also recognizes that, at times, family ties hinder our ties to God’s family. Jesus suggests that it is all a matter of perspective and priority. Haddon Robinson indicates that an old recipe for rabbit stew begins with this injunction: “First catch the rabbit.” Says Robinson: “The writer of the recipe knew how to put first things first. That’s what we do when we establish priorities – we put the things that should be in first place in their proper order.” Several summers ago I read three books by a father and son named Jeff and Michael Shaara. The three books were Gods and Generals, The Killer Angels, and The Last Full Measure. After reading about 1100 pages of the trilogy, I came to the conclusion that the North nearly lost the War Between the States because of the pride and vanity of the Northern military leaders. The North had more food, ammunition, and clothing. The North had a better communication system and better transport of its war materials. The North had the manufacturing strength to continue to out-equip its enemy’s army. Yet, despite the overwhelming odds in its favor, the North narrowly escaped defeat simply because of its commander’s pride. Most of the Northern senior officers spent their time playing to the press and fixing blame on others for their own failures. This blaming among Federal troop leaders allowed the Southern States to remain in the war much longer than they would have otherwise. My guess is that most church fights, most family fights, and most school fights all boil down to the misplaced and presumptuous pride of the participants. If people could put their need for acclaim and their pride aside for the greater good, then many excellent tasks could be accomplished. However, individual pride often keeps us from doing what is frequently in the best interests of the many. In part, this is why Jesus wants people to put discipleship before everything else. If discipleship is first, then everything else falls in place. A father or mother or son or daughter who has put God first will be better in their family role – and most evidence confirms this principle of discipleship. The contemporary Christian song, “Seek Ye First,” puts it nicely. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Too often we worry about how we will look or what the consequence of a certain action will be for us-rather than for those in God’s Realm. Jesus message is simply this: “If we take care of our relationship with God, then we do not need to worry about anything else.” Our relationship with God gives us all the perspective we will ever need to be happy and blessed people. _________________________ Sermon brief provided by: David N. Mosser, Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Arlington, TX. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.