Matthew 10 and 14
Yesterday’s readings were about faith. Today, Jesus shows us practical ways to put that faith into action. First, He calls His 12 apostles. Ever thought about why twelve? Why not 25, or 11, or 100? Could it have been that the 12 apostles reflected the 12 tribes of Israel? Did it point to God’s plan of salvation somehow? And later today we find out that Jesus traveled with more than just 12 men, because John 6:66 tells us:
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
Their faith wasn’t enough. The road was too hard. They were in the presence of the One Who they had looked for… but they turned away. That’s a very sad verse!
The inner circle is called and commissioned for a quick trip. They are to take nothing but the clothes on their backs. They are told to go not to Samaria or to the Gentiles. This first trip is for the Jews, and as a lesson to the apostles in trusting God for their support.
We hear so much about how Jesus is a man of peace. Some preachers want you to believe that living the Christian life is easy and/or filled with tangible earthly blessings. Jesus tells us just the opposite. He promises persecution. (How’s that for a pre-roadtrip pep talk?) he reminded the Twelve that although they might be anxious about what to say, that the Holy Spirit was there for them and would guide them. He reiterated that they would have problems, but that anyone who acknowledges Him before the world would have His support and acknowledgment in return.
Jesus will ultimately bring peace to the world, but for now, He says:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt 10:34-39 (ESV)
The Christian walk is contentious. It splits apart families – and even Jesus’ own family opposed Him at the beginning of His ministry. To walk successfully, Jesus requires that we place Him above everyone, including our own family and friends. We need to take up our cross and follow Him. Though problems will arise for us on this earth, our ultimate destination – heaven – will make it all worthwhild.
John the Baptist is killed. Remember, John was Jesus’ contemporary. They may have even played together on occasion as youth. John was a few months older than Jesus, and he was the one who God called to prepare the way for Jesus. John was quite outspoken, and he was finally jailed because he spoke out about Herod’s incestuous relationship with Herodias. Salome, Herodias’ daughter, danced (apparently a very sensual dance) for Herod at a banquet. Fueled by alcohol and lust, Herod promised Salome any reward she wanted. Salome asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. A very high price indeed for speaking the truth. John’s disciples came, removed, and buried his body.
When Jesus heard that John had been killed, He withdrew to be alone. The crowd followed Him, and we see a great miracle of feeding 5,000 men, plus women and children, and having some left over.
Jesus again withdrew to be alone and pray, having sent the disciples on toward Capernaum via the Sea of Galilee. Another storm broke out (but not as bad as the last storm we heard about), and the disciples battled the storm for hours. Jesus came to them, walking on the water. Peter asked Jesus to prove Himself as Christ and allow Peter to walk on the water, too. Jesus acquiesced and Peter found himself walking along the top of the waves – until he took his eyes off Jesus. Peter was rescued, Jesus got into the boat, the wind ceased, and
… immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. John 6:21 (ESV)
When I read this familiar story, I was struck by parallels to my life. When storms break out in my life, do I ask for Jesus to perform some big, supernatural miracle for me? Do I take my eyes off of Him and look at the storm that’s surrounding me? And when I finally decide to trust Jesus with the problem I can’t solve myself, does He immediately calm my inner storm (even though I may still be dealing with the consequences of the outward storm that I caused)? If I allow Him to take over, does He immediately bring that boat into a safe and peaceful harbor? He doesn’t promise to immediately make all my problems go away, for storms are the way that we grow. He does, however, promise to give my mind perfect peace if I keep my focus on Him.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
Toward the end of the reading, we see disciples leaving Him because of this statement:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58 (ESV)
On the surface, those words are disturbing (even a little disgusting). Of course, Jesus doesn’t expect us to literally eat flesh and drink blood. This was a graphic reminder that He is the bread of life. It’s through His death that we are able to come to God. His blood had to be spilled for our sins because
…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Heb 9:22 (ESV)
Jesus called Himself I Am eight times in the Gospel of John. According to Jesus, He is:
I am the bread of life. John 6:35
I am the light of the world. John 8:12
I am the door of the sheep. John 10:7
I am the good shepherd. John 10:11
I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. John 14:6
I am the true vine. John 15:1
Every claim He made is true. His contemporaries, the Pharisees, didn’t see that He was the fulfillment of God’s promises. Every time Jesus made a claim, people were there to dispute it. Some people wanted Him to be made king forcefully; others wanted Him dead. Wherever He went, there was compassion and healing; controversy and hatred. But even with all the problems, Jesus pressed on to do the will of the Father. What an amazing man! The living embodiment of God – fully God and fully man.
Today, the parallels with the disciples and the storm to my own life struck me the most. How about you? Let’s study together. I’ve talked long enough. It’s your turn! Send me a comment or an email.
See you tomorrow.