Reading: Matthew 10: 24-39
Verse 38: Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Today’s passage is tough. Jesus’ words confront and challenge and shake us. Or so they should. This is not the warm, fuzzy, lovey-dovey Jesus talking here. This is the Jesus that makes us squirm in our chairs as we read and contemplate this passage.
Jesus begins by encouraging us to be like him – “the student is like his teacher”. He encourages us not to fear “them” but instead to speak the good news in the bright daylight and to proclaim it from the rooftops. Jesus advises us not to fear men but to fear the one who holds our soul. He clarifies this by telling us that if we acknowledge Him before men, He will acknowledge us before God in heaven. He holds our souls.
Just as with those who heard Jesus speak these words, our choice is the same: Jesus or “them”. He was probably referring to the religious authorities and the Roman occupiers at that time. Today, our “them” can be similar but is more complex. Of particular concern would be our choices of popularity, power, and position over the narrow way of Jesus. It would be our pursuit of wealth and possessions instead of chasing our relationship with Him. We must daily ask who we place as Lord of our lives.
Jesus continues to bring it, telling us that He did not come “to bring peace, but a sword”. Nothing warm and fuzzy here. In case they (or we) were thinking a little repentance and pruning to cut away the sin in their (our) lives, He clarifies. Jesus says we must love Him more than mother or father, sister or brother, … We must love Jesus above and over all else. It is hard. It is challenging. It is a full-time commitment. Jesus defines it this way: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”. It is a daily choice. Am I worthy?