Year A Proper 8 Matthew 10 2011
Never Underestimate the Power of a Cold Cup of Water
Matthew 10:40-42

Now I would like to stop the world for just one minute and ask you to think back. Think back with me to the first century. Think about those 50 years after Jesus' death and what it must been like for Jesus' disciples. Before the last one died their efforts had brought 500,000 men, women, and children into the ranks of the church. But what they had to suffer in order to accomplish this task is seldom discussed. We like the outcome of their discipleship but we don't want to hear the cost of discipleship. So for the record here is the cost: History tells us...

  1. John died of extreme old age exiled to the island of Patmos.
  2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
  3. Peter was crucified; head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
  4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, a Grecian Colony.
  5. James, the younger, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
  6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
  7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
  8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the East Indies.
  9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis.
  10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
  11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (what we now call Iran.)
  12. Matthew was first stoned and then beheaded.
What sacrifices! And I ask you why? Why did they choose to die this way? Why desert your father and mother, your wife and child, and your home? Why put up with the constant humiliation, and hunger, and persecution, and defeat town after town after town?

I'll tell you why, because, in the words of Apostle Paul, they were held captive by the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is Paul's way of saying they were slaves to Christ.

It is quite likely we shall never be tested to the extent that the disciples were but there are some ways to gauge our commitment. Let's look at a couple this morning...
  1. Sacrifice is a sign of mature commitment.
  2. Hospitality is a sign of discipleship.
  3. A cup of water is a sign that Christ is welcome.

The Rewards Program for Christians
Matthew 10:40-42

We've all seen the big, hairy Viking oaf who is the spokesman for the CapitalOne Visa card: "What's in your wallet?"

He demands to know, because if it's not the credit card he is hawking, you are missing out on all the rewards you could be getting. Every credit card company out there is trying to convince us that running up even more debt is a "rewarding" thing to do. We will be the recipients of all these wonderful "rewards" if we just use their card for all our purchases. Discounted merchandise, frequent flyer miles, room upgrades, even cash back formulas, are all promised by various cards as our "reward" for jacking up our monthly bill.

But for the most part, all those perks and presents are trotted out in order to draw our attention away from our ever escalating balances and the bank's stratospheric interest rates. This "final reward" was described best in the old folk tune "Sixteen Tons" — where the miner admits he is just "another year older and deeper in debt . . . I owe my soul to the company store." [You might consider playing the Tennessee Ernie Ford version of this chorus right here.]

A "reward" shouldn't suck your soul away. A "reward" should set your soul soaring.

Remember how good it made you feel to be "rewarded" for memorizing Bible verses in Sunday school? Remember how you coveted your friend's perfect attendance Sunday school pins that made his coat look like a 4-star general's uniform? Whether you got "Awana Bucks" or plastic jewels to put in your plastic crown pin, or stripes on your sleeve as you rose in rank in "the Lord's army," the real reward was feeling the joy of a "mission accomplished."

As Jesus prepared his disciples to go out on their first missionary journey he didn't sugar coat the situation they would be facing. He warned them that pain and persecution, criticism and complaints, disgrace and even death, would accompany their efforts to serve as messengers of Jesus. But in his final words to them Jesus promises rewards, rewards that would transform his disciples and rewards that would extend out to others... presents Leonard Sweet