7th March 2023
7th March 2023
Read (Matthew 10v34-42)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
In some circles the Lord Jesus is seen a great, kind, accepting and always loving teacher. His followers are horrible intolerant individuals but Jesus only ever said nice things and He has been misrepresented by the church. There is a problem with such thinking - it is entirely false.
One of the most startling statements from Christ was "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." (v34) Did you hear that? Gentle Jesus, meek and mild actually came to bring a sword and not peace. I suspect this is not a verse that has been stuck on your fridge or posted to your Facebook page.
What did Jesus mean? If you read the Gospels you will see that Christ faced constant opposition from both demons and man. Crowds flocked to hear Jesus but often His opponents sought to silence Him or humiliate Him or even find an opportune moment to kill Him. Eventually He was dragged before Pilate on trumped up charges, was lied about and eventually murdered upon a cross. Yes the Lord gives His followers a peace that passes all understanding but we would be fools to think that the world loves Christ and His cause.
As I write this devotion a lady by the name of Kate Forbes is standing to become the new leader of the Scottish National Party. I have no idea what policies she would promote and I have no strong opinion on her suitability one way or the other. But if you have been paying attention, the media are making much out of the fact that Kate Forbes is a Christian and a member of the Free Church of Scotland. In modern life this suggests that you walk the same road as Hitler and are obviously unsuitable for public office. I hope she is successful but I suspect she won't be the new leader of the SNP.
The Gospel of Christ is offensive and it divides. It looks the sinner in the eye and declares that there is nothing good within them and they must come to Jesus in order to be saved. Sons and fathers, daughters and mothers, daughter-in-laws and mother-in-laws are all divided by the Gospel (v35). The Christian will know opposition and often it will come from within their own family (v36). Christ brings a sword not peace.
I don't want to be at war with my loved ones. I don't want to be hated because I stand for Christ. I'd much rather have peace, love and happiness but the Lord has brought a sword and I am not ashamed to be considered a follower of Christ. We are to love our family even if they hate us for the sake of Christ but we are to love Jesus supremely (v37). Indeed the Christian life is marked by a daily taking up of our cross and following Jesus (v38).
What does it mean to pick up your cross? It means that on a day to day basis we die to self. In the Lord's day to pick up your cross was to make a one way trip to a place of execution. Therefore as we lift our own cross we are publicly declaring that our old self is dead and we now walk the way of Jesus. This path is rocky and many loved ones may forsake us, but regardless we continue on, for we understand that nothing compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. To find true life we must first lose our old life (v39a) and as we lose that old life we will find abundant life in Christ (v39b).
A gospel which promises health, wealth and prosperity is no gospel at all. Christ came to bring a sword and if we belong to Jesus then we can expect war not peace. Nevertheless we are filled with hope for better days. Anyone who willingly received the Apostles also received Christ and the Father who sent Him (v40). Anyone who willingly received one of the Lord's prophets will receive a due reward (v41a). Anyone who willingly received a righteous person will receive a due reward (v41c). Anyone who gives even a cup of water to a little known follower of Christ will by no means lose their reward (v42).
The world may hate us and our mother may disown us but we will not and cannot turn back. Christ is worthy and Christ is all and today we choose to follow Him come what may.
Q94 What is Baptism? Baptism is a Sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
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