Matthew 11:7-19: A Self-Righteousness that Deafens

Read: Matthew 11:7-19

One of the popular things to do with movies is to prefix the title with “The Last” then append some word. A few popular examples are The Last Samurai or The Last Jedi. The motif of being “the last” of anything in these movies shows the last of a long lineage that has come to its end. If someone was to make a movie about John the Baptist, they could call it “The Last Prophet” for the same reasons. John was the last prophet in the vein of the Old Testament prophets. The Old Testament prophets gave warnings of doom should Israel not repent, but also foretold of redemption or blessing should they repent.  John came with the same message where he proclaimed the kingdom of God and offered a baptism of repentance. Jesus calls John a prophet and even more.

Matthew 11:10 quotes from Malachi 3:1, which is the promise of one that is coming to prepare the way. Immediately following the verse in Malachi is a commentary on those who would “stand” when he appears. The question it asks is rhetorical, as the answer to this is only the righteous who will be cleansed. But to those who do not will receive justice.

Jesus draws on this imagery pointing out two kinds of people: those who hear him and those that do not. The imagery of the piper playing a happy tune and the hearers not dancing or the dirge and the people not morning is precisely the conditions of those that don’t here, rather they are apt to accuse the messenger of things he is not guilty of rather because he associates with those who are less than righteous in the eyes of those who believe themselves to be righteous.

Self-righteousness even today can blind one from hearing the message that they need to hear. The antidote to self-righteousness though is a constant reminder of one’s own sin and ones need for repentance and cleansing. Jesus offers this to whomever is willing to humbly come to him and ask for it. May it be as John 1:9 says – repentance so that God will forgive and cleanse all unrighteousness.

Lord, keep me humble so that I can hear you and see my sin!

Matthew 10:40-42: The Disciple’s Reward

Read: Matthew 10:40-42

In the work of the gospel, there are goers and senders. In the New Testament context, the goers were the apostles (literally, “sent one”) who made it their life’s work to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth and starting churches where they went. The senders were the ones on the other end, supporting the work of the apostles as they went. These senders came from all sorts of backgrounds, but they too played a part in helping advance the gospel.

In Matthew, Jesus is speaking to his disciples concerning the rewards of those who receive the apostles and also do things in accordance with the scriptures. The apostles themselves were the New Testament analog to the Old Testament prophets who proclaimed what God told them to. Jesus’ remarks concerning those who receive the prophets receive the prophets reward make an allusion to the Old Testament when both Elijah and Elisha were welcomed into a home, and the welcoming home was blessed because of it (1 Kings 17:9-24, 2 Kings 4:8-37). To this, Jesus adds that the one that receives the righteous man and also gives a cup of cold water will also receive the just reward.

Being a “sent one” comes a great personal cost the one going. It’s for this reason that God has called the senders to take care of the goers, and to them that receive the goers, there is a great reward. In all things though, the one who does this as a way of life doesn’t discriminate: he could be caring for the goer or a perfect stranger. Jesus says that when one does it to the “least of these” they are doing it unto him.

Lord, help me to care for all people, everywhere!