Reading: Matthew 10:40 – 42
40 ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’
Our short reading is a continuation of the Jesus teaching on discipleship and follows on directly from last week’s verses. It has taken me quite a while to come to an understanding of these three verses but I will try my best to explain them in a way that hopefully will give us some insight into our journey as disciples today.
Within these verses we hear echoes for Jesus instructions to the disciples in chapter 10 verses 13-14 but also Jesus’ judgement on the nations recorded in chapter 25 verses 31-46.
In the first verse Jesus draws on the idea of an emissary, a person who would be a representative of a ruler and their presence would be as if the ruler was their themselves. Jesus is saying that anyone who welcome a disciple is also welcoming Jesus and God because the disciple has been sent out with Jesus authority and to do Jesus mission. While this verse is written in the positive the opposite is also true, those who reject a disciple, also reject Jesus and God. Jesus is highlighting the importance of the role of hospitality in spreading the gospel. If the disciples had nowhere to stay, they would not be able to share the gospel in that village so hospitality is enabling the disciples to do their work.
The next two verses mention three groups of people and gives them equal status: the prophets, the righteous and the “little ones”. This would probably have been a shock to those listening. To be considered a prophet or to be considered righteous would have been places of prestige and the little ones were those who were considered less significant in the life of the church. Jesus is saying that when it comes to the gospel there is no hierarchy.
When we think of missionaries, maybe one or two names come to mind e.g. David Livingstone. While the work they did is to be commended they did not do it on their own. There would have been people who planned, financed, provided transport, prayed and so much more working in the background enabling other work to be done.
This reminded me of a story I remember hearing about President Kennedy’s visit to NASA. While on a tour of the facility he stopped to speak to a man carrying a broom and asked him what he was doing. The man replied that he was putting a man on the moon.
Over the last few weeks the passages have been looking at mission and discipleship and some of you may have been thinking, “that is all well and good but I can’t do that” or maybe “I’m too old” or maybe “I’m not able to do such things now”. This passage challenges us to think that maybe there is something we can do. It also challenges us to appreciate all the work that is already going on in the church, much of which is unseen and unrecognised.
As we think about what we do in the church, as we think about mission and discipleship, may we all see that we all have a role to play in building the kingdom.
• Think about all the different jobs that are done in the church and think about who does them
• Think about what gifts and skill you have and consider how you could use them for mission in the future
• Give thanks to God for all who undertake jobs at the church and who support you in your role
• Give thanks to God for the diverse skills and gifts that people have
• Pray for the ongoing life of the church and its mission into the community