Monday, March 12, 2012

The Teachings of Jesus (II), Week 11: Jesus on Discipleship – Rewards (Matt 10:40-42)

We continue our series on the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Today’s passage marks the end of the second “block” of teachings that Matthew records—the block in which Jesus discusses the role and nature of discipleship.

In the last few weeks we have heard of the pain of being a disciple of Jesus. Today, we learn about the rewards.

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. (Matt 10:40-42, ESV)
Here, Jesus says that our reward will be “a righteous person’s reward” or “a prophet’s reward”. What are these? Eternal life, of course: consider the righteousness of Enoch, who walked with God and was taken to heaven without death, or of Elijah, the prophet who was rewarded with being caught up into heaven. I think that is precisely the reward to which Jesus is alluding here: eternity.

I absolutely love verse 42 in this case. After having read everything in the prior passages, we no doubt have a daunting, overwhelming feeling of discipleship. Jesus has told us that being His disciple is hard, and painful, and will cost us relationships, and may lead to our loss of freedom or our pain.

And yet, to conclude this teaching, He gives us the first real practical example of what discipleship looks like. Until this point, He has not told us what disciples were actually supposed to do while discipling, except talk about Him. And what is the one—and ONLY—example Jesus gives of being a servant disciple?

Giving a cup of water to a thirsty child.

That is it. No major mission, no conversion of nations, no theological degrees.

No, Jesus in His key teaching on discipleship has told us basically five things:

1. Tell people about Me.
2. You may be persecuted because of it.
3. You may lose your family or friends because of it.
4. Serve other people in simple but meaningful ways.
5. The reward is eternal life.

I really don’t think I have anything more to say about that. He said it so beautifully.