Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Second Sunday after Pentecost

by Richard Alan Jordan

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 10: 34 - 11:1

Devotional Thoughts Based on Matthew 10:34-39

Matthew 10:34-39 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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; and oneís foes will be members of oneís own household. 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; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."

This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus, and while often we might be tempted to go on to something else, there is much of great importance to be heard in this text. No one likes family strife, quarrels -- and at the same time everyone it seems desires peace. In the same way, no one likes to feel as though their life is out of control, so much has been written about how to get it back in control, how to take charge, and how to prioritize. And thatís where we need to begin.

If you notice that the days seem to move faster and faster. If it seems that you have more things to do, than you have hours to do them. Well the answer is time management, at least according to the world. Prioritize, put first things first, make a list and do things in order. Then you can regain control over your life. Then you will be able to respond to events, rather than have the events control you.

It sounds good. It sounds like something we can do. And that is why it is not from God. Listen to the Gospel: "Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." It may be that you can be in control of your earthly existence, but the price you pay is the eternal life that is ours by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Being in control is a form of idolatry. It puts self at the center. It puts self in the place of God. And as a result, it is self that is thanked for daily bread, and for all things necessary. And when self is congratulated, on having done all things well, we have given to self the worship that is owed to God alone. Being in control is to live by sight, and not by faith. God has called us to live by faith.

What this means is that rather than trying to be in control, we abandon self and flee to the arms of God, we turn to God and ask him to guide and direct our life. We turn to God, thanking him for daily bread, and asking him for all things needed. We turn all of our life over to God, and by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, God gives us a new and everlasting life. And here is the important part, when we turn our life over to God, we can then hear and see His purpose for each day, and each day, by His grace, we will be able to do all that needs to be done.

You see, we know that we are worth more than many sparrows, we know that the hairs on our head are numbered, so we are called to trust and rely on our gracious heavenly father. And this is how the rest of the text fits in -- for when we trust in God and live by faith, those who would take the place of God get jealous. This often happens in families, for there is a mistaken notion that love means that you place those you love at the center of your life, and the your life revolves around them. Its a problem because this jealousy or covetousness is a form of idolatry that is rarely spoken of. It is rarely spoken of because we desire peace. And so it is that Jesus says, that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. A sword divides, and in this case, it is the word of God that is our sword, that rightly divides the love of God and love of family. Its not a new teaching, it goes back to the beginning: Deu 6:6-7 "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

You see, the unity and peace in families and in life start from peace with God. Peace with God comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The division in families comes from sin, selfishness, covetousness and idolatry. The answer to these vexing sins is repentance, and trusting in the blood of Jesus Christ which is the forgiveness of sins. When people are jealous of our relationship with God, then the answer is to bring them to Christ and to faith. So the love of God always comes first, for it is what enables us to love and forgive our family, friends and neighbors.

Matthew 10:34-39 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father ...

See Also:

I Have Not Come to Bring Peace
by Aaron Burgess

Taking Gospel to the People
by Elisabeth Johnson

True Discipleship, Christ Brings Division
by Edward F. Markquart

Battle Your Heart to Keep Jesus First
by Gregg Bitter

Losing Life and Finding It
by The Joshua Victor Theory

Peace With God
by Dr. Lonnie H. Lee

The Welcome Wagon
by The Rev. J. Curtis Goforth, O.S.L.

Devotional Thoughts Based on Matthew 10:34-39
by James T. Batchelor

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

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