June 25, 2023: Hard Words

lamb seal

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Hard Words

In the beginning of Matthew 10, we see Jesus sending out the disciples to do ministry. He gave them his divine authority to do some pretty amazing things: heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, and raise the dead.

If I was there, I would have said, “Let’s do this!” But then Jesus said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). He added that some people would oppose them, even hurt and arrest them. The way of his kingdom would even divide families.

Wait a minute! I’m sure the disciples took a step back, thinking, “This is supposed to be a good mission! Why does it have to be this hard?” Of course, Jesus doesn’t go into explanation about why it will be this way; he just states it as fact. He rarely sugarcoats things. The truth is that, even 2,000 years later, it is still hard to boldly share the message of Jesus with others. Even though it is not easy, obedience to our Lord is integral to our life of faith. Our allegiance to him rises above every other relationship.

No doubt we hear hard words in today’s Gospel, but there are soothing words as well. Three times Jesus says, “Do not be afraid” (verses 26, 28, 31). Through it all, he reminds us we are intimately known. Our value surpasses that of the sparrows. If sparrows dwell in the love of the heavenly Father, how much more do we? We are watched over, cared for, and guided all the days of our lives.

Andy Kilps, pastor, Hope Moravian Church, Hope, Indiana