Matthew 10:24-39 (NRSV)
24"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! 26"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32"Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and one's foes will be members of one's own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Jesus is a dividing point, a point of decision, for the people of the world. He comes as savior and ruler, but the world isn’t ready for his work or his message. “I come to bring not peace but a sword,” he says. He warns the disciples about all the bad things that could happen to them because of who they’re following: “The disciple is not greater than the teacher.” If the world bad-mouths the Master, what’s going to happen to the disciples?
But then Jesus encourages them by telling them not to be afraid even of those who can only kill their bodies. Rather, they are to fear the one who has the power to destroy both body and soul. In other words, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). This is a new kind of wisdom that understands the meaning of the truth that in God’s new kingdom, those who lose their lives for the sake of Jesus and the gospel will find new life in him.
Lord, help us to trust you in the face of those who would ridicule our faith. Amen.