Our Master Teacher called His followers to go to the towns and villages of Israel in His Name. He gave them authority to do mighty deeds as they proclaimed that “the kingdom of heaven” was “at hand.” The disciples needed to trust Him for every provision as they journeyed. If anyone refused to listen to their words, they were to “shake off the dust” from their feet both as an indication of future sanctions for the unrepentant.
The church could expect persecution in this divine endeavor. God would give His people the right message in times of difficulty, but they still would be “hated by all” because of their association with Jesus. “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”
Despite the mortal danger, Jesus insisted that His ambassadors should “have no fear of” rich and powerful adversaries who might “kill the body,” but could not eradicate the soul. There remained no middle ground for halfhearted worshipers. “Everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
Christ gave us no expectation that His words would produce immediate peace. Even the most intimate family relationships would be challenged by the need for a higher devotion to the Lord. “Whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” What a shocking statement! Jesus demanded an extraordinary commitment to Himself and to other “little ones.” The King of the kingdom promised to bring great rewards to those who would show even the smallest acts of charity to any of His children. Our Lord still instructs us to serve in this way. Why would we ever refuse Him?
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, You are building Your holy temple on the cornerstone of Your Son and the foundation of apostles and prophets. We rejoice in Jesus Christ and in His glorious Word. Use Your servants as messengers of life in a dangerous and dying environment. Grant Your Spirit to the church that we might speak the truth with power and love. Bring to light all that is necessary for the conversion of a great multitude. May many people acknowledge You before men, for it is a horrifying choice to deny You. We take up our cross and follow Your Son. We gladly receive Your children and care for their needs. This world is passing away, along with all of its pride, but Your kingdom is forever.