Today I shall finish this chapter! Here goes. Remember this is Jesus giving instruction to his disciples. (See this post for the beginning of this chapter's discussion.)
32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."
It seems Jesus took this whole relationship thing pretty seriously, huh? None of this knowing Jesus and identifying with his message only when it was convenient. Jesus values loyalty to him and what he stands for!
Want more proof? Check out these next verses.
34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
Shocking, isn't it? This so-called "Prince of Peace" is talking tough about even dividing families and bringing a sword! He says straight up he didn't come to bring peace! And I've seen many nonChristians on blogs use this to show that Jesus was not the peaceful, enemy-loving person we often like to portray.
So what's the deal?
My Quest Study Bible has this to say ... first about the sword issue:
The peace that Jesus brings is the result of people being "made right" with God. It is a peace that resolves all barriers between one's soul and one's Creator. However, not all people experience this peace from Christ, and those who do not will experience his judgment.
And why would Jesus want to break up families?
These verses illustrate one of the harsher truths of God's kingdom: Not everyone will respond to the gospel. Hearts full of prejudice, hate and pride will resist Christ's offer of peace. Because many will reject it, the message will divide people, families and nations.
1. It seems Jesus believes only those willing to put him first are worthy of him. And what's up with this "taking up your cross and following him" thing? Is Jesus wrongly trying to put himself as top priority in life? Or does his message represent God's message, therefore, it would be idolatry to put anything else including mothers, fathers and children ahead of him?
2. What does taking up your cross and following Jesus involve? What does it mean?
3. And what about this, uh, riddle? "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Does this mean if we go after things in this life, we will lose out on eternal life? Kind of goes along with that verse: what does a man profit it he gains the whole world yet loses his soul? All this stuff we accumulate in life won't matter much when we face God. I'm thinking God won't care so much about the nice cars in the driveways or the big ol' houses we own. What do you think this means? Does this also show the importance of relationship with Jesus--losing life (here) for his sake equals finding it (eternal life)?
4. This above-mentioned verse also brings to mind Matthew 6:33 -- 33"But seek first his [God's] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
5. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me." -- Does this mean by your accepting Jesus and his message, you are accepting the one who sent him, meaning God?
It seems Jesus put great importance upon his message and if we are one of his followers, so should we.
So now you see why one chapter has taken up 4 posts? There is quite a bit of "stuff" to consider. Important "stuff." And I'm just going to let the last verses speak for themselves because I don't really know what is meant by a prophet's reward and such. Maybe if someone else knows, they can leave a comment to inform me.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post and the verses mentioned.