Matthew 10 - Call to Hate, to Love

Matthew 10:1-2

1Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. 2Here are the names of the twelve apostles:

 

How would you have felt if you were there when Jesus was appointing the twelve and your name was called?

You would feel mighty proud.

As a kid, it was all about your name being called out, right?

Let me correct that, your name being called out by the right person at the right time for the right reason.

“Sam,” by your principal to get your diploma. Good

“Sam,” by the principal because of a playground brawl. Not good.

“Sam” graduated Summa Cum Laude. Is that good? It’s Latin. It’s got to be good.

“Sam” your mom calling you in Korean. Not good. She calls you in Korean only when she is really, really angry.

Or in a pickup basketball game. The two best players are captains. Then they look at the free agent pool and they are calling out names. Daniel, Luke, Jonathan.

Your name will be called, eventually, but you just don’t want it to be the last one.

New York Knicks picks for their first pick, “Samuel Son” wooo!

For the most part, getting your name called is good.

When Jesus says, “I am going to pick 12 of you” I think the gathered feel like they are in the NBA lottery. I think they are excited. I think they all want to be picked.

You might say, -I wouldn’t want my name to be called, I know how this story ends. They all die. Burned crisp, quartered, crucified upside down. Not the types of benefits I am looking for.

That’s at the end. And by the time you get to the end, the disciples are ready. They no longer see death as the end. They no longer see the cross as suffering but glory. But at this moment in Matthew’s retelling, the disciples are not thinking their appointment will end in death but that it will end in honor and fame.

Jesus has been talking about the Kingdom of Heaven and that’s got them all giddy with anticipation. From Sabbath school in synagogue, they’ve been taught that God is going to send a king, son of David, but greater than David, and he is going to instate the rule of God on earth from the city of Jerusalem, and bread will be plenty and wine will overflow.

Many are saying Jesus is the messiah, the anointed one.

And he has done some powerful things to show his credentials. Like healing a person just by commanding it. Raise someone from the dead!

And then his coming out speech, what has come to be called, “The Sermon on the Mount.” The Moses echo was not missed on anyone. Moses goes up on the mountain, brings down the law. Jesus goes up the mountain, and says I am not here to change the law but to fulfill it, but then by its very intensification, changes it.

You heard it say, “eye for an eye” “tooth for a tooth” No if someone slaps you, offer the other cheek. That is justice!

And did you hear his rhetoric. You have heard it say, but I say.

Usually rabbis quote texts. They quote texts against each other. They quote rabbis and offer their comments.

But Jesus just goes and quotes himself, I say. Pharisees say he is an arrogant SOB, they are jealous. The people say, no one ever taught with such authority! This is the Moses about whom Moses prophesied, someone greater than me is coming.

And here is the evidence that Jesus is about to accept the coronation as the anointed one. Electing the twelve.

Come on. You can’t miss the significance of the number. 12 tribes. Ever since Assyria then Babylon exiled the Jews from their land, only two tribes eventually returned to Judah. No one know what happened to the other 10 tribes. Yes Jews returned from the Babylon, but they have never been complete again.

Jesus is selecting 12! This is it! The restoration. And he is looking for the 12 new tribal heads. He is selecting 12 leaders.

Everyone wants to be called.

Some are prayer-whispering, “pick me, pick me.”

Some are rubbing their hands.

-Peter, Andrew.

The two brothers high-give each other. They are fishermen. They are brave men who knows the seas like the back of their hands. They are good at what they do. They like fishing; a men’s job. But being cabinet members of the new administration. That’s sweet.

-James and John.

James and John. Fishermen. 4 fishermen make it to the cabinet. And they are childhood friends, learned to catch fish as they learned to crawl. They are high-fiving. Granted, James and John, they are hot headed. I mean Peter and Andrew, they curse like a sailor, but the dirty mouth on James and John, make Peter and Andrew look like Kermit and Elmo.

-Then Matthew

What? Matthew. The four fishermen are looking at each like, “What?” He’s a tax collector. He’s a snake. He makes a living by raping his own people. He collects tax for the Romans. And he collects extra for himself. An unjust system that fattens him and his family, living in their gated home while his people are starving to death in the streets. He’s filth.

Matthew? That’s against Jesus’ party ideology. I mean Jesus is all about change, isn’t he? Matthew is all about keeping it as it is. I mean he is IRS. Can you get more conservative than IRS?

The thing about being called is that you also want to be called to the right team. I mean you don’t want to be called to the losing team, but to the winning team. And an important part of being a winning team is that there has to be chemistry. I mean you have to want to play together. But Matthew, that kind of throws a wrench on the team the 4 were thinking about.

For sure, they ain’t never gonna be friends with that dirty tax collector.

-Simon (the Zealot)

What Is Jesus thinking, the fishermen are talking amongst themselves, but the most surprised is Matthew. Matthew was feeling pretty good when he got called because he saw the face of the four fishermen get all twisted and Matthew liked it. He crossed the line from the pool to the elect with a strut and a look that was saying “In your face,” because he is getting it all, tax collector being called as not just a true Jew but a future leader. But Matthew’s smug smile contorts in to disgust.

-That Simon is a Zealot, Matthew is saying to himself though he wants to say it to Jesus. He wants to violently overthrow the Empire. They go around stabbing soldiers bring the wrath of the Romans. And those Romans, they are not that bad. They brought security and stability. Good governance and good and safer roads, no one can contest that fact. Worse, they don’t go around just killing Romans but Jews who they deem compromised, who have Roman names and attire. They come behind you and thrust a dagger into your lung, and before you can scream in pain, your lung is punctured and you are dead, silent assasins. Sicarii. Doesn’t Jesus know that? What is this Kingdom anyways. I thought it was more moral Kingdom, but a zealot, have I joined the wrong team?

I think the twelve are looking at each other and thinking I want to be one of the twelve, but I don’t like the make-up of this team.

Matthew the Republican, Peter the Democrat,  and Simon the Anarchist, are now one team.

Jesus has put together a strange team. These people, for the most part, have nothing in common. Sure, they live in Galilee, but they are from different industry, diverse experiences, different ideologies, different class, with different ideas about what it means to be a people of God, what it means to be faithful and holy, and what the Kingdom of God looks like, and how the Kingdom of God should be established.

This team looked kind of like … this team, different tones of skin color, class and mind.

I think Christ wants his team to be made of people with diametrically opposed views. I think Christ wants to show that commitment to him is enough to overcome even our hatred of each other. But that is hard to do. Let’s be honest, teams with people very different is very difficult to keep together.

Can you imagine the conversations they might’ve had.

Jesus says, -Ok, you are my twelve. You are going to be together for awhile so why don’t you guys get to know each other. Introduce yourselves, share something about yourselves that you never told anyone. Pair up now.

Matthew turns and there is Simon, so they pair up, and sit.

Simon goes, -Well I killed some people

Matthew is disgusted, - How can you live with yourself, with the blood in your hand?

Simon replies – well, I only killed people who deserve it, like tax collectors

And they start throwing punches

Jesus has to break it up.

I wonder, when Jesus sends the disciples in two, if Jesus coupled Matthew and Simon. Or was he like many small group leaders, never put them together within 10 miles of each other.

Once Jesus selects the 12, and really no one thinks he got the best teams, especially the people in the team as they look at each other. But Jesus thinks he got something special. And he begins to teach them.

Jesus’s instructions in chapter 10 it is like a fire hydrant. I am sure it is compacted for us because Matthew has limited space. But in their time together, I am sure these are teaching Jesus goes over with them regularly and differently.

He teaches them practically, where to go, where to stay, how to relate to hosts, what to preach, how to respond with whatever response you might, about the persecutions and difficulties which are inevitable as his followers, and not to get discouraged, but to know that God the Father is proud of them.

And then he gets to a strange teaching on the necessity of hatred to be faithful Christ-followers. It surprises us, especially as we have come to know Jesus as the revelation and proof of God’s love. Isn’t discipleship a commitment to love. But Jesus says, “you have to hate.”

How can we understand this command to hate?

Matthew 10:34-42

34“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35‘I have come to set a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

36Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

 

37“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

 

Why does he want children to fight against their fathers? 

In Luke, Jesus says it with even more force, “You cannot be my disciple unless you hate you father and mother, your brother and sister, your son and daughter.”

Why does Jesus tell us fight and hate?

The way to understand Jesus’s teaching is his own teaching. His teaching gives us lens to his teaching. He connects this call to fight and to hate to the taking up of the cross.

And we see that in the call to take up the cross, the cross is not the end. Cross is a means to an end. Cross is the road to resurrection. We suffer so we can have joy.

Christ says die. But dying is not the end. Dying is a means to another end. Dying to live. You die to live.

So fight and hatred is not the end. Fight and hatred is a means to another end. Hate to love.  

It is ironic, that death leads to life, but we understand that to be true. That when you give up somethings, you gain other things.

So it is true with love. We cannot love well until we are ready to hate.

The only way we can truly love each other as we ought, is if we can make the love of Christ the center, so much so that we are willing to sacrifice every relationship for the love of Christ. We have to be willing to make that radical cut of all human affections if we are to truly love well.

Human love alone is death

All human love is to be cut. No human love is to be our all.

All consuming human love is like an umbilical cord. What gave life in the womb, is death outside of the womb. So the first things a doctor does to give life to both the mother and the baby is to sever that intimate tie. The mother can nurse the baby, and the baby can look up to the mother’s eyes only when they are separated.

Love of Christ as the primary and the unbreakable is that generous severing, that life-givingseparation, that community forming division.

Absolute human love becomes absolute hatred of others

Human love when left alone inevitably becomes hatred of others. Human love alone makes those we love as the only source of our identity. So any threat to those we love is a threat to our self. So the only way to protect the self and those we love is to hate those who are not those we love.

All human affections is a form of this.

I love my family, so anyone a threat to my family is an enemy.

I love my tribe, so any threat to my tribe is an enemy.

I love my nation, so any threat to my nation is an enemy.

Nationalism is where we see the danger of absolute human love.

Love for my country hinges upon my willingness to hate my countrie’s enemies. If I show a modicum of undersdtanding of the humanity of people who might threated my country, then I am a traitor. This is absolute human love that demands hatred of the other.

The love for my country becomes so absolute it justifies dehumanizing people of other nations so we can bomb them without our conscience being bothered.

Absolute human love becomes absolute hatred to other.

All types of isms, is this family love that has become absolute.

Racism is love for the people of same color that has become absolute and thus the hatred of other colors.

Absolute love for Christ connects us to all

But what happens when we are willing to fight for the love of Christ, hate for the love of Christ. Christ reconnects us to each other. Father and children are able to love each other well because they are no longer umbilically tied into an absolute love. And this connects us to larger group of people. Suddenly there is no boundary to our love. Because now that I am connected to everyone only through Christ. I do not love my father because he is my father alone, but because I love Christ and my father is loved by Christ.

But then so is the person who looks like my enemy because of what he said, or how he looks, or what he elieves in, or what country he is from. Christ loves him, so I can love him too.

Now once we love Christ, Christ reconnects us to every other human being. Christ reconnects us to our family, to people who seemingly unlike me, yet I begin to see that we are not that different because I see them first as connected by Christ.

Matthew 10:40-42

40“Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. 41If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. 42And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

The connection now is not blood, or any other affiliation but simply the calling of Christ.

And the calling of Christ is large enough for all our differences. The generous calling of Christ is large enough for all of our differences.

Shane Iraqi bishop

Shane Clairborn is a disciple who felt called to go to Iraq while they were being bombed. It wasn’t so much a statement against U.S.’ war in Iraq but he wanted to be a Christian to those suffering in Iraq.

When he went he found that there were Christians in Iraq. This surprised him.

So he went to meet a leader there, a bishop.

When he met the bishop and visited the churches there, he was surprised to see so many churches in Iraq and said to the bishop, “I am surprised that there are so many Christians in Iraq.”

And the bishop replied, “You see those rivers meeting, Euphrates and Tigris? Have you heard of them? This is where it all started.”

Shane grew up thinking Christianity is an American thing, or that what happens in America is what a true Christianity looks like.

Then the bishop compassionately told Shane, “Tell the American church we are praying for them.”

We must love Christ above all else. Then we will know that to be a Christian is far larger, far more glorious than being any other loves than come to identify me, more than being a Son family, more than being a man, more than being a Korean, more than being an American. I am Christian because Christ first loved me and I love Christ first.

Matthew and Simon

So Matthew had to hate his tax collector families enough to love them well, hate them enough to love Simon and not be bothered if his fellow tax collectors begin to defriend him.

So Simon had to hate his zealot friends, enough to love them well, hate them enough to love Matthew and not be bothered when his zealots say he is a traitor to his own people and even target him for assassination as a compromiser, hate them enough not to care about what they will do, hate them enough to love them even if they want to destroy him.

As followers of Christ, we must hate because we must love Christ. Because we love Christ, then we can love everyone.

And this is what the world needs.

Not another conservative or liberal, with Christian theology to back them up.

But Matthew and Simon loving each other. We need the resistance of love. The commitment to be stay together.

I cannot close this with better words than these words of Martin Luther:

Martin Luther quote

I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say:”We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.

 

 

Readings

Matthew 10:1-2

1Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. 2Here are the names of the twelve apostles:

Matthew 10:34-39

34“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35‘I have come to set a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

36Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

 

37“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

 

Matthew 10:40-42

40“Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. 41If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. 42And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

 

Martin Luther quote

I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say:”We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.