4th Sunday after Pentecost

Matthew 10:34-42





Last Sunday Jesus promised that giving His everything to everybody everywhere,

Means that His disciples will be despised, persecuted, and mocked;

And that some would even be put to death.


On some level we expect that from the world,

But Jesus said added that this will actually come from those closest to us.

Even from our own families.


“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”


That’s not exactly what we signed up for.


Not long ago, on December 24th we sang along with the angels,

Welcoming the baby Jesus. Our voices rang out:

“Hail the heav’n born Prince of Peace | Hail the Sun of Righteousness!”


We sang that hymn so joyously because, at our core,

Peace is something we all desire:

Peace in our homes;

Peace in our land;

Peace in our world.

And isn’t that what Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would want?


If peace in our home, land, and world means treating people with respect and dignity, and not rushing to violence, and being kind and merciful, then yes:

Peace is something Jesus wants.


But that’s not the kind of peace He’s talking about.

When Jesus says He did not come to bring peace, but a sword,

It means that He Himself will cause division between people –

Division so sharp that He uses the image of a sword.


Some will hear Christ’s call to faith and discipleship, and by God’s gracious action through the Gospel they hear, they will repent and believe.

Others will hear the same call, but due to their own ingrained sin and stubbornness, they will reject the Christ who summons them to salvation.

(Gibbs, Matthew, 538-539).


That means that there are disciples and everyone else, and they are divided.

Being Jesus’ disciple means being divided from everything that is anti-Christ:

Every sin, every lie, every perversion, every murder,

Every abuse, every false doctrine, every fake gospel, every idol,

Everything that is less than God made it to be.


You as a disciple, as a Christian, are at war against it,

Because it is at war against Him, to whom You have been joined in Baptism.


Suddenly, it’s clear that the

“Everything, to everyone, everywhere” formula of Matthew 28 would be a lot easier if not for the “everything.”

“Everything” means that there is no part of Jesus that doesn’t apply.

“Everything” means that none of Jesus’ teaching gets left out.

“Everything” means that you and I don’t get to pick what is important and what isn’t.


That kind of cherry picking is tempting;

Especially when it comes to those close to you.

It’s tempting because we desire a peace that Jesus didn’t come to give.


Your best friend has decided to shack-up with his girlfriend;


Your sister is considering an abortion;


Your parents have left the Church;


Your children have strayed;


You hear gossip and the fruitless complaint.


And you remember.

The call was not “some things to some people in some places.”

It was “everything, to everybody, everywhere.”


Everything Jesus has taught in His Word.

Everything Jesus has won on His cross.

Everything Jesus gives in His Church.


That means speaking a kind, caring, and faithful word with patience and love.

When it comes to such issues as these,

Your words may not be interpreted as kind, caring, patient, loving, or true.

And many can tell you from experience, they often won’t be.

But that is not up to you.

You should be ready for Jesus to cause division.

And you should be ready for that to hurt, because it will.



Your best friend may think you are not the relaxed, cool guy he knew in college.

Your sister may be offended that you would try to impose your worldview on her.

Your parents and children may never return to the fold.

Gossipers and complainers may now start complaining and gossiping about you.


But that is not up to you.

You’re a disciple.

You are called to love.

You are called to faithfulness.

You are called to give everything to everyone, everywhere,

Even when it causes division.


But don’t be surprised when something else happens.

As Christ works through you in all the places He puts you,

Don’t be surprised when He separates others from their sin and unbelief, too.


Don’t be surprised, but rejoice when

Your friend sees His sin and His Savior, and instead of playing house, gets married;

Don’t be surprised, but rejoice when

Relatives repent, and then return to Christ’s Church.

Don’t be surprised, but rejoice when

Your sister chooses to embrace the life nurtured inside her.

Don’t be surprised, but rejoice when

Gossipers and complainers put new words in their mouth,

Words of repentance first, but then joy and thanksgiving and praise.


Don’t be surprised,

Because it’s not your word –

It’s Jesus word.

It’s not your work.

It’s Jesus’ work.


He concludes His sermon this way:


“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”


When people receive you and the faithful word you proclaim,

They are receiving Jesus.

And when they receive Jesus, they receive His Father, too.


Then the Christmas hymn makes more sense.

“Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.”


On the cross, Jesus has born every last sin –

Your brother’s, your sister’s, your best friend’s, your parents’

Yours and mine,

And reconciled the world to God.


From the cross, Jesus pours out life and salvation,

Water and Blood,

Baptism and Eucharist,

To welcome, to forgive, and to bless.


And to the cross, to discipleship, He calls all of you again today.


All so that you, along with everyone everywhere,

Would receive the only Righteous One,

Enjoy His free reward.


To Christ be all the glory, now and forever. Amen.

About Pastor Hopkins