Matthew 10:34-42 (ESV)
34 “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. 40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
Jesus delivered another strong teaching to his disciples. Because he purposefully came to bring peace between God and man, which included overcoming sin, tension was bound to arise between those who responded positively to him and those who did not. Jesus warned about this natural hostility by saying he came to bring a sword. At times, the ones who reject Jesus are just as intense about their hatred of him as believers are passionate about the Lord. The gospel “polarizes” or puts people on opposite sides of one another. Does a soul love Jesus, or not? The answer to that question will have eternal consequences and generates a strong emotional response. Doing things the way Jesus asked will lead to rejection, even from beloved family members. Nevertheless, all Christians must be ready to pay this price. In fact, the follower of Jesus must take up her cross and follow Jesus or endure extreme hostility, even to the point of death, out of allegiance to him (v. 38). In this time period, when a criminal carried his cross, it symbolized his full agreement with the Roman government’s determination that his offense merited death. When the followers of Jesus carried their crosses, they acknowledged that Jesus had rightful authority over their lives. Yet, ironically, in giving up themselves for him, they would find true life.
In verse 39, Jesus gives his followers tremendous hope as he explains that to focus on self is destructive, but to exist for the glory of God is really to experience life. Even more, Jesus let his disciples know that a mere drink of water, given on his behalf to the least of his followers, would not go unnoticed by God. Do you feel discouraged when you face rejection for standing up for Jesus? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as the world around us thinks very differently than we do as Christians rewired from the inside out to serve God. Remember, Jesus warned his followers on multiple occasions that following him would cost them. Yet the benefit so outweighs the price. Those who abandon themselves to follow Jesus live for the glory of God, and not one detail of what is done for him goes unnoticed. Be encouraged today as you speak and live consistently with biblical Christianity. Everything you do for Jesus will be worth it in the end.