Sunday 28th June 2020
I hope and pray that this letter finds you well this week.
How we welcome people when we first meet them, either at work, home or church can leave a lasting impression. It is said when we first met someone we tend to make up our minds about them within minutes based on a number of things which then informs our relationship with them in the future. Today we conclude the mission training Jesus imparted to His disciples in Matthew chapter 10 and verses 40 to 42. Jesus encourages us to be welcoming to those who meet but takes it to a deeper level.
He states that anyone who welcomes the disciples welcomes him (Jesus) and by doing so welcomes the One who sent Him. This phrase is similar to others elsewhere in the gospel and other Bible texts about being someone who welcomes others and thus being open to welcoming Jesus. So there is a lesson for all us here, by welcoming people who are working for God’s kingdom we are in effect welcoming Jesus. This really should cause us to reflect on our attitude and how we act and interact with others in the church.
Jesus goes on to say that anyone who welcomes a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward and similarly the same for a righteous person. These curious phrases could be interpreted in various ways. Firstly, let’s deal with the prophet. It could mean by welcoming the prophet, you are also welcoming the prophet’s message and therefore we ultimately receive their reward in heaven. It could also mean the reward is hearing, understanding and then accepting the message is the reward and thus realising the path to heaven. Or it could mean you will receive the reward like a prophet will as an acknowledgment of your service to God. Either way, being open to God through the messengers sent our way is the important factor in all of this. Secondly, the concept of a righteous person, this could be someone who has responded positively to the message or this could be linked to the concept of the prophet as the two were used interchangeably in some Old Testament and Rabbinical texts. Or Jesus could be referring to the two characters involved in the Good News, the one who imparts (prophet) and the one who responds (righteous).
The final part of the reading concerns giving a cup of cold water to someone in the name of discipleship. This was an act of courtesy and hospitality in the East. In the West, we take the commodity of water for granted but in arid and desert nations like Israel, the gift of water is both precious and life-giving, therefore again the point of receiving the reward is highlighted. Through reading this passage, the message that comes across is that we must try to welcome and help others. Not to receive a reward ourselves but that others may see the work of God in us.
May the Lord Jesus; who welcomes all, bless us all, as we seek to welcome others.
Every blessing in His precious Service, Andrew.