June 21, 2020
If your first impression of this gospel lesson is similar to mine, you will find yourself asking, “What are you talking about Jesus?” This is a tough lesson this morning as we make our way from Pentecost into the lengthy days of summer. Many of us are exhausted from the last few months of uncertainty and adjusting schedules. We want to be uplifted, and Jesus tells us of all of these seemingly bad things that could happen.
Let’s take a step back. If you recall last weeks gospel lesson, Jesus prepares to send the disciples out into the surrounding neighborhoods to share the good news. He tells them, “You will be hated by all because of my name.” (10:22). That sounds unwelcoming and uncomfortable, while at the same Jesus tries to reassure. Where is our safety net that will catch us when we fall? The disciples had to be hesitant going into the unknown, much like we are today.
Shortly after we moved to Richmond, my son discovered Landslide Skate Park in Macomb. We have even ventured to Canada to find a skatepark. For those of you that have seen skateboarders or scooter riders, they can do some awesome tricks with a lot of practice. There is risk involved and you need to have the courage to repeatedly fail until you land that perfect move. A lot of skateparks have ramps with a foam pit at the end so that you can practice your aerials without having to worry about landing on the hard ground.
Even with the foam pit to provide a soft landing, you have to break through the hesitancy and the butterflies of nerves. As the first disciples were sent out to spread the gospel, Jesus knew that it was not going to be easy and that there would not be a foam pit to catch them when they fall.
The first twelve are sent out to proclaim the good news with the warning that they will stumble. The gospel they are sharing is new and it will not be easily accepted by many and Jesus does not expect it to be. Do we at times bend to the will of the people by making the gospel more palatable so that we don’t ruffle feathers? Sometimes we must examine why we do things the way we do. Do we make it comfortable for our ourselves?
There are no easy steps to take when being bold to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Jesus says, he comes with a sword; not to bring peace. Once again, another strong verse that makes us wonder what Jesus is talking about. What do you mean, Jesus? I thought you were about love and reconciliation and now you are saying you come with a sword. Didn’t you tell Peter to put his sword down in the Garden of Gethsemane?
This sword Jesus speaks of is not literal. It refers to the fact that are actions in following Jesus will make us cut ties with lesser loyalties. It may bring us to disagreements with family. However, in following the gospel and by holding true in our faith, it will bring us to a greater relationship with Christ.
Jesus not only sees us in the neighborhood, he also is present in hearing us in our discomfort. When we stumble and fall, Jesus is there to catch us. The full verse from what I read earlier is, “You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures until the end will be saved” (10:22). In a way, Jesus is our foam pit to catch us when we stumble and fall when doing our best to follow and share the Good News. Jesus is present to comfort us and tells us, “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid for standing firm in your faith. Do not be afraid to step out into the unknown with courageous steps to share God’s word and love. Do not be afraid, for Jesus is with you.