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Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 21, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Matthew 10:21–10:33

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Matthew 10:5a-21-33
Date: June 21, 2020; Pentecost 3; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • In our Gospel reading for this morning we hear part of the account of Jesus sending out his twelve disciples to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is near.
  • Our Lord knows that the work he is sending his disciples out to do is dangerous.  
  • He knows that they will be hated for his name's sake, that they will be persecuted, that even members of families will turn against each other - even to the point of children rising against parents to have them put to death.  
  • It’s hard to even imagine how horrible this is.
  • In verse 16, just prior to our Gospel text, Jesus acknowledges that he is sending his disciples out not just to his sheep but “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16).
  • Yet, he repeatedly tells them to have no fear.
  • It sounds strange.  
  • Jesus tells his disciples that they will be persecuted in his name, and he lists a number of terrible things that they will endure - but then he says, “have no fear.”
  • Christ’s invitation to have no fear is also for us today - and we need to hear and believe and receive his message of peace.
  • Fear and anxiety are on the rise - and it’s understandable.
  • We don’t know when this pandemic will end and what life will be like after.  
  • We don’t know what will come of the increased tensions among nations.
  • We can’t see what the future holds for our children and grandchildren.
  • And not only are we facing these concerns, but they are often on our minds because we are constantly exposed to these difficult matters on the news and on social media.
  • Our circumstances and the causes of our fear might be different than what the disciples were facing, but we are living in the same fallen and sinful world.
  • And we should keep in mind that it is possible that we will face the type of persecution that the disciples faced in our lifetimes because of our faith - so hear and cling to Christ’s words to fear not.
  • And when Jesus says to fear not - his words are much more than just positive thoughts and vibes. 
  • They are much more than a simple encouragement to have an attitude of “Don’t worry, be happy”.
  • His words to not fear actually mean something because they are grounded in his life, death, and resurrection - everything that he did for us and for our salvation. 
  • They are grounded in everything that he accomplished to save us from what causes us to be afraid - ultimately sin and eternal death.
  • That certainly doesn’t mean that as God’s people it is smooth sailing in this life.  
  • We experience the difficulties, and hardships, and suffering in life like everyone else.  We are exposed to many things that instil fear in us.
  • But Jesus distinguishes between those things that we fear from our human perspective from those things that are eternal.
  • It’s understandable that we worry about illness and disease, about conflict in the world, about school and employment, about what the future holds for our loved ones.
  • But we experience and understand these things in light of a much larger and eternal reality.
  • Ultimately we have God’s promise that in Christ we do not need to fear these things because those who endure to the end in his name will be saved eternally.
  • Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10: 28).
  • Even the worst and most difficult things that we face in this life, even if we end up enduring the absolute worst that our persecutors can do to us, even death itself - None of these can destroy our relationship with God or separate us from him. 
  • So fear not, Jesus says, because you are of great value to God and he loves you and he has saved you. 
  • Because Jesus has faced every enemy that causes us fear, we can be sure that he understands our fears, he can sympathize with all of our temptations to be afraid, and he will provide mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.
  • Jesus not only experienced the fears and hardships that we do - he overcame them.  
  • And he promises that we will too.
  • He promises to be with us and care for us, in every fear-filled situation.
  • In fact, he says that he knows us so well, and cares for us so deeply that, “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).
  • Fear will have its day and its say in our lives as we experience various threats - but Jesus will have the last word.
  • He promises that “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
  • And because of this, we can joyfully, boldly, and fearlessly confess Jesus until he comes again to deliver us from every form and cause of fear once and for all!
  • In Matthew chapter 10 Jesus said that those who seek to follow him have much to fear from a human point of view: rejection, intimidation, all kinds of opposition, even persecution that, in many cases throughout history, has led to martyrdom for Christ.
  • From God’s point of view, however, we have nothing to fear. 
  • Why? 
  • Because Jesus has promised to be present in our lives, and he has promised to provide all that we need to persevere, all that we need to endure to the end.
  • In our baptism he has washed sin away from us and he has brought us from death to life.     
  • We have nothing to fear because Jesus endured rejection, persecution, suffering, and finally death on our behalf - and he rose victorious over all of it. 
  • We have nothing to fear because Christ’s victory is our victory.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ” (Romans 6:23).  
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ - fear not!
God’s Word shall abide, No thanks to foes who fear it; 
For God himself fights by our side - With weapons of the Spirit.  
Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse, 
though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day.  
The kingdom’s ours forever.  Amen!
(LSB #657 v.4)
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Pentecost

July 5, 2020

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

June 14, 2020

The Second Sunday after Pentecost

May 31, 2020

The Day of Pentecost