Faith Daily | 9 July 2021
PRAYER of the DAY - PENTECOST APBA P 552
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you,
that, loving you above all things,
we may obtain your promises
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 10: 16-23
16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: The Rev'd Jonathan Kemp
have always found it fascinating to speak with people about how they read the Bible. I’m not so much interested in how often they read it, or what their favourite books or verses are, but rather, to understand the ‘level’ they feel is appropriate for a particular passage. Sometimes I am told that the meaning of every verse is as plain as day to any literate believer… if only it were so! When I think of the years of work undertaken by thousands of translators, historians and others so that we may have a readable text in our hands, it seems to me we owe it to them all to think deeply about what we are reading.
On the face of it, Chapter 10 of Matthew’s Gospel seems straightforward – it’s all about Jesus gathering his twelve apostles and instructing them on how they are to go throughout Israel and spread the gospel – kind of like a ‘psych up’ speech from a coach before a sporting team runs on to the field. But there are a few unusual elements here. One is that today’s verses spoken by Jesus appear in a similar way in Mark (chapter 13) and Luke (chapter 21) - which is much later in each of the other Gospels than it is here in Matthew. That means Matthew may well have taken these sayings of Jesus and moved them here as a convenient way of organising the sayings he wants readers to remember – and that therefore we shouldn’t get too worried if one verse doesn’t fit totally logically with the next.
I suspect there is also more to these sayings of Jesus than naïve predictions of the near future: take, for example, verse 23: “…you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” Some readers might assume that Jesus was predicting the arrival of the Day of Judgement at the end of time and got it wrong. But there are other ways of interpreting this verse: perhaps there will be so much work needing to be done in the towns of Israel, that Christians will still be doing it when the Son of Man comes – so they had better get going!
Despite the unusual construction, there’s no doubt this passage also packs a punch in its content. In practical terms, the need to combine ‘worldly wisdom’ with ‘dovish innocence’ is a challenge for all who seek to be active and vocal Christians, then and now. Dietrich Bonhoeffer devoted a whole chapter of his book ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ to this passage, and as is well known, paid the ultimate price for his faith. At risk of over-summarising his thoughts, I would say that Dietrich encourages Christians, as we go about our own towns and villages, to expect opposition but above all, to stay close to Jesus – the living Word of God.
FINAL PRAYER: A Prayer for teaching and preaching from Kenya:
Lord Jesus, our great shepherd,
We pray for all who teach and serve in your name:
For clergy, catechists, lay readers, teachers.
Encourage them in times of difficulty.
Keep them humble when things go well.
Strengthen them when they are tempted.
May your word be ever in their hearts and upon their lips.