Reading Through the Bible, Thursday, October 14. Matthew 10-12

    “Persecution” is a major component of Matthew’s gospel and the entirety of chapter 10, the second of five “teaching sections” in Matthew is devoted to this subject.

    As chapter 10 opens, Jesus grants his disciples marvelous powers over evil spirits and diseases, and yet, with all the persecution Jesus says the twelve will face, Jesus gives them no retaliatory powers against other humans.  Their enemy is Satan.  If humans do not greet them warmly and accept what they say, the disciples are simply to move on to find receptive ears somewhere else.  When they are arrested and physically attacked (as they will be), power to exact revenge will not be present, only the power to speak the word of God.

    Christians would do well to keep this point in mind.  The world will never accept the message of Christ.  Some in the world will, but the world as a whole will not.  Our task does not consist in forcing people to faith, but simply speaking the message of Jesus to any who will hear.

    Though at the end of his ministry Jesus tells his disciples to go to the gentiles, here, he confines their ministry to Israel.  These descendants of Abraham are lost, separated from God.  The message of salvation must go first to God’s family, then the world.