Fourth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 8] June 28, 2020
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 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. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
In the Name of Jesus.
Jesus comes not to bring peace but a sword. What do we do with this?
He’s our prince of peace. [Isaiah 9:6]
Going to the cross, he will ride into Jerusalem not on a warhorse, but humble and lowly on the back of a donkey.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
says Jesus. [Matthew 11:29]
But here in chapter ten of Matthew, it’s the sword:
[Jesus said,] “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the Earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
What price does Jesus exact with this sword?
[Jesus said,] “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
It’s a costly sword. You lose your father, your daughter, your family, your own household. And you take up your cross and follow Jesus.
What does Jesus mean? Is not this the same Jesus who says to love your neighbor as yourself, even love your enemy? He commands to love and obey and respect our parents, even to respect and obey the governing authorities.
Can he really be telling us to hate our family and household?
Jesus is taking a sword to us. There’s no doubt about that. It is the sword of the Law. A sword cutting us off from everything we grasp and hold onto in the way of the Law.
That is what we do in our sin. This old Adam of our sinful flesh clings to us every day. We hold onto things according to how we benefit from them only as long as we hold onto them. We hold on even to people for what they are to us and we can get out of them.
Even onto our own loved ones, our family, our own flesh and blood, we hold to them as if they are something we can control for our own use.
We’ll call it love. But it’s not love. It’s self-love. It’s loving something for what good it is to you. It’s our old Adam of sinful flesh loving self and then loving others for their usefulness to us.
To that kind of love, Jesus takes a sword. He brings the Law in the most harsh way we can imagine.
Jesus tells us we will be cut off from family, cut off from our loved ones, from our household, and all that will be left is him. Him and his cross, which we must bear. Him and his blood, which he shed to redeem us from the sin of loving self over others. Him and his atonement which he paid for every sinner.
Jesus brings the sword of the Law, and it leaves us with nothing which we, in our sin, deemed necessary and valuable to our lives. But then we are given everything. Matthew 10:38:
[Jesus said,] “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Our old life of holding on to people for our own advantage, of controlling others for our own benefit, of figuring out what good others are to us, Jesus has us lose our old life.
The accusation of the Law cuts us off from that. We daily die to it in repentance.
And we find our life. Our true life of receiving gifts from our Lord. Our life of receiving others—our parents, our children, our families, our neighbor—as gifts from our Lord.
Gifts to be daily received, even in their weaknesses, as those we are given to love and serve. Gifts of persons to cherish and honor, and, as our Lord gives us opportunity, to give gifts to.
[Jesus said,] “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
In our life of the Old Adam, of the sinful flesh, we start out seeing a child as one who needs to serve us, even as one to control, but now, in our life of the New Adam, our life of faith, where we are only receiving gifts from Jesus, we are given to see the child as a gift from our Lord—the gift of a little one to whom we give gifts, even the gift of a cup of cold water.
And now when we teach the child a lesson, it is not to be over the child, not to control the child, but to give the gift of learning things beneficial to life.
Catechumens, we rejoice in this day as you come to your Lord’s Table to be given gifts by him.
This is your life of faith, of the new Adam, where you have put on the new man and are renewed in knowledge according to Christ who has created your life of faith, so that Christ is all in all. And that, Daxton, is your confirmation verse, Colossians 3:10.
In this life of faith, you stand before God not according to your own righteousness, but as his chosen generation, his royal priesthood, his holy nation and his own special people, so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. And that, Amanda, is your confirmation verse, 1 Peter 2:9.
And this life of faith is not just some fleeting emotion, but it is the heart of faith created in you by the hearing of the Gospel, it is the sure confidence that you have been justified by the word of Christ, so that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for all who have faith, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in this Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith unto faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” And that, Carleigh, is your confirmation verse, Romans 1:16.
Jesus creates you anew in this life of faith as he has his Word proclaimed to you and gathers you to his Body and Blood and the fellowship of his saints, so that the peace of God rules in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; so that you are thankful as you let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, as you teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And that, Kaitlyn, is your confirmation verse, Colossians 3:15.
And, Catechumens, all of this—this daily putting to death the old Adam in repentance, this daily standing before God in the life of faith, rejoicing in his justification of the sinner, this life with other Christians gathered to the Name of Jesus, of hearing his Gospel proclaimed, of receiving his Body and Blood as he has appointed for you for the forgiveness of your sins—all of this is to you not by way of Law, not by way of what you can grasp by your own might or get under your control, but it is all to you by way of gift. The gift of justification, of forgiveness of all sins, of the Name of the Lord on your head, the gift of life, all gift from him who gives gifts.
He gives the gift of the sword, the gift of the Law, to cut you off from anything the old Adam would try to gain on his own; and he gives you the gift of grace, the gift of the Gospel, to create you anew, so that, in losing your old life of sin, you daily gain your new life of faith.
He serves you with all his gifts, for he, the Son of Man, came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. And that, Carter, is your confirmation verse, Mark 10:45.
In the Name of Jesus.