A Cup of Cold Water

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” – Matthew 10:37-42

So this passage contains some of the most confusing and challenging statements that Jesus made. The water reference comes toward the end, but one must traverse the rapids to reach the place of rest at the end, so here goes.

Jesus starts off with a very hard teaching from a worldly perspective. We are to love Him more than our own parents and children. I think Jesus makes this point not because loving our families is inherently bad in some way. It is is merely one of the most powerful substitutes for Him. The one that most effectively ensnares our souls in a seemingly sanctioned love that we are clearly supposed to possess for our parents and children. I think the key here is perspective and posture. As long as we look first to our families for love, acceptance, and meaning we will not be able to allow God to channel our hearts in the direction he needs us to go.

The rapids continue….”Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Jesus is looking for followers who are “all in” for Him. It just occurred to me that the reference to a cross here must have been a bit confusing to the people listening to Jesus. At this point they did not know where Jesus’ cross carrying would lead Him.

Class IV rapids ahead…”Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Jesus is sharing a whole new spiritual “math” here. If you “win” from a worldly perspective you actually “lose” from God’s perspective. If you spend your years on this earth pursuing a career, knowledge, or wealth, you fill your soul with something that in God’s economy is worthless. In order to “win” we must give ourselves away in pursuit of faithfully following Jesus. People should be able to look at our choices and lives and be able to say “that person is a real sell out for Jesus”.

Phew almost time for a cup of cold water, but we have one more topsy turvy teaching. Jesus finishes this hard teaching by saying “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” Jesus is telling us something that would seem both blasphemous and beautiful – we are the only version of Jesus some people may be able to see, at least at first. If Christ is not in us in a tangible way that is obvious to others then we are missing an opportunity to share His love with others.

I don’t know about you but I need a cup of cold water, perhaps one to drink and one to the face. So why does Jesus leave us with this somewhat odd admonition, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” I think Jesus knows that what He is asking of all of us “little ones”, those who would follow Him (disciples), is hard. It will take a supportive community willing to care for one another to pull it off. So the next time a fellow follower of Christ struggles to succeed in “selling out” for Jesus give them a cup of cold water. We all need one at times.

Prayer: God help us to willingly sell out our souls for You and seek to support those trying to do the same.

 

This entry was posted in Christianity, Matthew, New Testament, Obedience and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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