READ: Matthew 10
BACKGROUND: This is a cool passage where Jesus sends out his Disciples to be his hands and feet in the world, equipping them to do the things that he does so that people will be drawn to him. It’s also a challenging passage, though, because Jesus promises that truly following after him and being his hands and feet in the world means that we’ll be persecuted and we’ll have to give up everything.
5 – The gospel was to be proclaimed to the Jews first. After Jesus died he commanded that it be taken to all nations. But while he was alive, there was an order and a plan and that meant the God’s chosen people first.
12 – Giving the greeting was also pronouncing a blessing. The greeting was “Shalom” which meant peace.
14 – Shaking the dust off your feet was a cultural practice – particularly of Pharisees when leaving unclean Gentile areas – symbolizing a desire to have nothing to do with the place you left. This is a solemn warning.
19 – How liberating! So often, I think, we avoid sharing the gospel because we feel like we don’t know what to say. God promises that he’ll give us the words if we’re faithful, no matter what the circumstance.
22 – This is a sobering warning to us. The message of the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing and people who don’t know truth tend to dislike it when they hear it.
28-31 – I think so much of what we do (or don’t do) is motivated by fear. We allow it to dominate our lives. What if we took these words to heart?
THINK: It’s really easy to get desensitized toward things that are familiar – things that we see or experience regularly. They just don’t hit us the same way or make the same impact when we’re used to them. This happens with big things (like politicians telling lies) and small things (like me not even being bothered by the smell of poopy baby diapers because I’ve changed approximately 1.5 million of them in the last 4 months). I think that as Christians it is sometimes easy to become desensitized toward the word “cross.” It’s been such a major part of the church culture we grew up in that we just forget the absolute horror of it all. We forget how powerful and terrifying that word and that imagery would have been for a person living in the Roman Empire in the first century. It was a savage punishment and a brutal way to die.
Matthew 10:38 is actually the first mention of the word “cross” in the New Testament. Jesus says, “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” It’s easy to gloss over that and read the imagery and reality of the cross of Jesus back onto that statement – as though all of his disciples and the other people who heard him were thinking, “Oh yeah, well, of course, he got crucified and stuff so maybe we’re gonna have to suffer just a little tiny bit possibly…” Not at all! Jesus hadn’t suffered yet. They didn’t even know he was going to die. In their hopeful moments – the ones where they really believed he was the Messiah – they thought he would overthrow Rome, not be killed by them. And then, with this hopeful backdrop shaping their thoughts, Jesus throws out the word “cross.” And not just that, he says “If you wanna follow me then you gotta take up your cross!” This is huge! Shocking! Terrifying! Try for just a moment to put yourself in the position of that original audience. I can’ even imagine the thoughts that were running through their heads. Jesus basically laid it all out before them and said, “Either I’m everything to you, or I’m nothing to you.” I once heard it put this way – by David Shaw to a congregation in McAllen, Texas – It’s not about making Jesus the number one thing; it’s about making Jesus the only thing!
ASK: Is Jesus the driving motivation of my life? Am I willing to take up my cross and suffer for him? If I’m not, then really what am I giving my life to – is it to things that really matter?