daily biblical sermons


Christ's call must take precedence over all other human ties, calls, and obligations
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Sunday, 13th Sunday of the Year, June 28, 2020
2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16, Psalm 88, Romans 6:3-4, 8-11, Matthew 10:37-42


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:37-41).

 

 

We should not have false expectations about what the life of a preacher of the gospel will be like. Sometimes people can have the false expectation that a life of preaching the gospel will be a life of great peace, ease, and comfort. But the truth is that when you genuinely preach the gospel, many will turn against you and regard you as their enemy. So to prepare his disciples for this Jesus tells them, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother … and a man’s foes will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-35, 36).

 

 

Jesus teaches his disciples this so that they will not become discouraged, when their false expectations of a peaceful, prosperous, and comfortable life surrounded by friends and appreciative admirers turns out in many ways to be just the opposite. If Jesus had not prepared them ahead of time for the conflicts that preaching the gospel would cause them, they might become overly discouraged and give up their apostolic vocation as his missionary disciples.  

 

 

Conflicts will come, because not everyone will accept the gospel, since it presents a great challenge as well as great rewards. This is particularly painful when it occurs within the family, where one or two members accept the gospel, while the rest vehemently reject it. This sets up a conflict between parents and children, and brothers and sisters.

 

 

It is true that the gospel message, when received with faith and genuine repentance for one’s sins, brings deep inner peace. This is because the gospel is the saving message from God that Jesus Christ his only Son has suffered our death penalty for our sins for us on the cross. All that believe in him will be acquitted of their sins, since God accepts Christ’s death as though it were the death of all that believe in Christ, suffered in punishment for their own sins. Therefore God acquits all that put their faith in Christ and declares them righteous, reckoning to them his own righteousness (Romans 4:5). So now we shine with the righteousness of God himself, our guilt for our previous sins is lifted from us, and so we experience a deep and profound inner peace in our hearts, the peace that comes from faith in the gospel.

 

 

But since not everyone accepts the gospel, this peace is really primarily an interior peace within the heart of those that believe in Jesus, but it often causes them exterior conflict with those that do not accept the gospel and argue against it. The gospel itself also presents great challenges, for it calls us to put Christ before any and all other earthly relationships, ties, and obligations. The most obvious example of this is the conflict that the gospel causes within families. If a father, for example, is determined that his son will be a lawyer like himself, but God is calling him to be a preacher of the gospel, whom should he obey, his father or God?

 

 

When it is a conflict between God’s vocational call of a person and his father’s vocational plans for him, God’s call must come first, for Jesus says, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

 

 

But in many cases the father will not accept this and will argue against the gospel, because it seems to have stolen his son from him and ruined his plans for him. So this is an example where the gospel has brought the sword and division into a family and made a man’s enemies those of his own household, as Jesus says, “And a man’s foes will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:36).

 

 

So Jesus forewarns his disciples today that to preach and follow the gospel will be the equivalent of carrying one’s cross amid the jeers and insults of the populace and then of being fixed to it to die of suffocation and loss of blood, while being jeered at and mocked by the crowd. Who wants this? Worldly people do not want this. They want a prosperous and comfortable life. They do not want their life to end up carrying and being affixed to a shameful and painful cross, but Jesus says today, “He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).

 

 

So Jesus forewarns his disciples that many will reject the gospel and therefore cause conflicts within one’s family. When in this conflict of loyalties and obedience, one must at times disobey one’s father in order to obey Christ. So Jesus says, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

 

 

In many cases therefore, especially in the time of Jesus, believing in the gospel will be a heavy cross and will cause division in one’s family. So a Christian is warned that he must be ready for a life that will be in many ways the equivalent of bearing a cross and of clearly loving Christ more than his father or mother if it comes to that.

 

 

Then Jesus goes on to say, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). He who finds his life only to lose it is someone that compromises his conscience, denies the gospel that he has heard, and complies rather with the desires of his family and those around him in order keep the peace and avoid the sword of division so that he will have a comfortable and peaceful life, not a life of carrying the cross. This is finding your life in a worldly sense that will result in losing your life. “He who finds his life will lose it” (Matthew 10:39a).

 

 

Jesus wishes that his disciples will not find their life in a worldly sense, only to lose it, but rather will lose their life for his sake and for following his call. And what will happen to them? They will truly find life and enjoy it with the deepest inner peace possible.

 

 

But the way to come to this inner peace and freedom from guilt is to believe in the gospel and be justified and sanctified by it. Yet believing in the gospel also requires that we henceforth live according to the gospel, which means that we must reject the expectations of nonbelievers with whom we live – and in Jesus’ day, this would often include the worldly expectations of family members.

 

 

So believing in the gospel in order to find this peace and truly find life in its deepest sense will require that we lose our life in this world in many ways and live in conflict with people around us, even at times with family members. It will be in many ways to lose our life in this world, but “he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39b).

 

 

Jesus then tries to lighten up a bit so that his disciples won’t become so discouraged at what he saying that they give up before they even begin. So he tells them, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40). Clearly not everyone will reject the gospel, and not everyone will oppose us when we accept the gospel, but many will accept our preaching and the gospel that we preach, and when they do, they will receive not only us, but Christ himself and so will experience the same inner peace that we experience in the gospel. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).

 

 

So the disciples should not only look forward to conflict and persecution for preaching the gospel, but should also look forward to many receiving them into their homes with joy, helping them on their way, and encouraging them with kind words of genuine appreciation for their preaching and ministry. This, then, will bring joy to his disciples’ hearts, and the people that receive them because they are prophets preaching to them the life-giving word of God will also receive a prophet’s reward. This could mean that they will receive the reward of being taught divine truths by a prophet (an apostle), which will transform their life for the better (John Gill, 1697-1771). It also means that they will receive the same reward that we ourselves will receive for preaching the gospel (Ibid.). “He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41).

 

 

 

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