THE GOSPELS 66
JESUS…THE MESSIAH…IS THE ONLY SAVIOR
In chapter 10 of Matthew, we have the account of what is called the limited commission. Jesus sent the apostles out to preach to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”. There follows a long dissertation on the difficulties they will face because of the rejection of Jesus on the part of the Jewish leaders. He is sending them to Israel first because they have had a relationship with God through the ages and should be more prepared for the Messiah than any other.
However, they, like Adam, had created an image of the Messiah that fitted into their personal desires, and Jesus did not fit the picture. He did not come to lead them in battle against the Romans and to set up an earthly kingdom, which is what they wanted. Therefore, they rejected Him as Adam had rejected God because he wanted to run his life the way he wanted it.
We fault the Jews for not accepting Jesus as the Messiah, but I wonder if we are not much like them today. Have we not taken the simple assembly of the early Christians and created massive church organizations that more nearly conform to our own ideas, and appeal to our desire for power and exclusiveness, just like the Jews wanted power and to remain the exclusive ones with God? Do our churches today represent the family of God, or have they become religious clubs that we join, with rules and rituals which make them different from other groups of Christians? Does the competition that exists and the judgemental feeling toward those in other groups reflect the prayer for oneness and love for which Jesus prayed so earnestly? Just as the Jews had created a Messiah in their own image, have we not created His church in our own image?
Jesus closes this section with a very strange statement to be made by “The Prince of Peace”. He says, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”. He does not mean that His purpose was to make trouble. He is simply stating the fact that His gospel is not going to be compatible with the desires of a hedonistic and self-centered world. That the result of teaching the truth is going to be met with violent opposition by those who love their own way more than the truth. This is not only true of those who do not believe in God…the atheist and agnostic…but even more, those who claim to be religious but on their own terms and in the way that suits them best.
“Anyone who receives you, receives Me, and who receives Me receives the One who sent Me.” With these words Jesus is bringing His commission to the apostles to a close with a summation of the truth they are to proclaim. As Jesus said in another place, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me”. It was sin that separated Adam from God, and only by having our sins forgiven can we get back to Him. Only Jesus Christ can forgive our sins. No acts of penance you can do, and certainly no man, can forgive sins. Only Jesus Christ, by the power of His Cross, can forgive sin. So Jesus is telling the Apostles to take the message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the centerpiece of the truth they were to preach. It is no different today. Those who teach otherwise are the false teachers Jesus warned about, no matter how pious they may seem.