Dear Savior, You have given us Your all. You have walked in our shoes of sin. You have experienced the pain we bring upon ourselves and upon others. You have even died our death. You did all this because You love us dearly. Give us both Your strength and power to love You back. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR BROTHER, SAVIOR, AND FRIEND!
TEXT: Matthew 10: 34-42
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Everyone has a best friend. My best friend is my lovely wife. Yours might be a sister, a brother, or perhaps someone you’ve known since early childhood. Best friends are a great blessing. You can share both your good and bad times with them and they’ll listen without tuning your out. You can tell them your inmost thoughts and they won’t laugh at you or mock you. You can trust your best friend.
Of course, the only problem is: best friends aren’t always around, sometimes they’ll let you down, and in the course of your life best friends can sometimes change. Also, best friends eventually die and then you’re alone.
In our lesson Christ is sending out the 12 apostles to engage in His work of the public ministry. The result of their preaching that only Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the source of eternal life”—the result of those efforts will be twofold. One, some will believe and come to faith. And two, others will reject, get their back up, and brand the disciples as trouble-makers. In order to get the disciples ready for this unpleasantness, Jesus tells them in advance about what the outcome of their work will be. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” And then He goes on to tell them how His gospel will split families apart and cause great unrest within households.
Christ was their Best Friend. Note that He doesn’t sugar coat the truth concerning what allegiance to Him is all about. Yes, Best Friends always tell the truth—even when it is hard to swallow. They “speak the truth in love” as St. Paul says. By coming to church today you’re asking Jesus to be your Best Friend, too. So, let’s listen a bit more to what that entails.
“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; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
All the disciples had moms and dads. But, I think we often forget that some of them also were married and had children, too. Therefore, spending three years following Jesus, being with Him, and learning from Him was tough on the family life. Often they were away from their loved ones. Certainly the finances of the situation were tight at best. That’s why I think the Greek wording of Jesus’ statement is informative. The word He uses here for “love” connotes friendship love or the love of companionship. Note well that Jesus isn’t telling them, or us, not to love our families. He isn’t telling us that our wives, husbands, children, and parents cannot be emotionally close to us. No, He is telling the apostles, and us, that He is our Best Friend. And as our Best Friend He has shouldered the cross of all our emotional burdens.
Every one of us feels sadness. We all experience disappointment. We all face temptations. We all give in to sin a times. Whatever your “cross” may be, carrying it alone—trying to “find your own way in life” is an exercise in futility. But the minute you share your problems. The minute you tell another about them and ask for their counsel and advice; well, suddenly some of that weight is lifted, isn’t it? As our Best Friend Christ is always there to listen and to help. And because He is God’s only Son, He can help us with everything! Right here Jesus is reminding His disciples of every generation to lose their inner burdens by giving them to Him. After all, as God Almighty He’s strong enough to carry them. And when we do so, we’ll find happiness and inner peace. That’s what He means when He says: “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Why do pastors wear robes on Sunday morning? The answer is: because in my office as Christ’s ambassador of His forgiveness, I represent Him and my robe is a visual way of showing that to the world. As Christ’s blood-bought family, each of us represents our Best Friend 24-7. What we say, how we act, what we do in our spare time when no one is looking over our shoulder—every minute we’re representing our Best Friend Who became our Best Friend by giving His life for ours on the cross. In light of that fact, listen to these closing words of our text.
“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me (God the Father). Anyone 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. And 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.”
All of us are royalty, God’s royalty. “You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own choosing, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” As His royalty, Christ expects us to act the part. He expects us to tell others of His grace and goodness. To tell them how God died for them because He loves them. He also expects those who hear that Gospel to respond positively to His offer to be their Best Friend, too. And if they do, if they come to faith in Him, it is all the result of His mercy and love. Since the source of such faith is His grace, or His undeserved love, obviously the reward for such a faith is also grace-based. Yes, peace with God, knowing Him to be our Best Friend, and eternal life in heaven all stem from grace, alone.
Who’s Your Best Friend? I hope and pray it is Jesus Christ. Like all Best Friends, Christ wants to be intimately involved in every aspect of your life. He wants you to know that He’s always walking beside you and that He’s often carrying you when you go off track. With those thoughts in mind, thank and honor Him for His friendship! Mere human friendships can wither and grow cold. Mere human best friends can let you down. But Christ’s friendship cannot and will not because it is grounded in unconditional love—for you! Tonight is probably a great time to get in touch with your earthly best friend and tell them how much you appreciate them. Today is definitely a great time to talk to Jesus and tell Him the same. Amen