"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master."
Pretty obvious. Jesus is the master, the teacher. I am the student. I need to study what he has said. I want to be like Him.. or at least, I should want to be.
"If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!"
Jesus was accused of being Satan, or being possessed by Satan, because of the things he did. If he was, how likely is it that we as Christians will also be ridiculed & suspected?
(This verse confused me for a while. I thought Jesus was making an aside at the Pharisees or something. Elsewhere in the Gospels, he does tell them that their father is the devil (Beelzebub):
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me... You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. (John 8: 42 & 44a)
It makes a lot more sense when I remembered that Jesus had been called the devil by some people, to account for the miraculous things that he did, and his apparent disregard for the religious leaders & laws.)
"So do not be afraid of them. (men who attack you for being a follower of Christ) There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs."
No matter what people call me or do to me because I am following Christ, God knows the truth about me; and I need to speak the truth that I know about God.
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
Hell yeah! All that people can do to me is kill me. If that happens, I will be with Christ (Paul - "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." -Philippians 1:21) So what am I worried about? Why do I have trouble being completely open with my faith? Because I'm still afraid of what people might think or do.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
That is cool! God is in control. Not only that: he's in control AND he cares what happens to me!! And even with all the people that he cares about, he cares enough about me to know how many hairs are on my head. If he knows trivial (but hard-to-know) things like that, how much more does he know and care about my problems!
"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."
Dude. This is heavy stuff. So I know God cares for me.. but I need to reciprocate. What a great reward, to be "acknowledged" by Jesus before the Father; but what shame, to be disowned. ("Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" - Matthew 7:23)
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--
a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
Everyone who thinks Jesus was just sweetness and light and love... well, they're mistaken. Yes, he is the embodiment of love. But that's not the entirety of his nature. And the truth about him will turn mother against child, husband against wife (if one believes, and one doesn't). The truth is: Jesus paid for our sins. He is the ONLY way to get to heaven. He brings unity (among Christians - or at least, he's supposed to...), but the truth about him also sows discord. It is hard to accept that we can't get into God's good graces by ourselves. It is hard to accept that the best things we do are like filthy, mud-soaked rags in his sight. It is hard to accept the notion that there is such a thing as hell, and it is real, and it is not empty. It is even hard for most Christians to accept the fact that our friends, who we care about, may not go to heaven, but instead to hell. And yet... for the sake of unity (perhaps a false unity), we often keep quiet. We don't want our friends to reject us, or be mad at us; so we keep quiet and hope someone else will tell them about Jesus.
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
Again, heavy stuff. Am I willing to leave my parents, to leave nightskyre, if God calls me to? Am I ready to give up my (moderately) comfortable life and preach his truth - either here, or in a foreign country? Am I willing to give up my plans and follow Jesus? Am I willing to sacrifice anything and everything? My comfort, my job, my relationships, even my life?
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
As someone much wiser than me once said: "Give up what you can't keep, to gain what you can't lose."
"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (emphasis mine)
How do I serve others? Do I help them because they are servants of God, or because it's easy? Do I do it because it makes me feel good, or because I truly want to help them? Jesus suggested (I won't use 'commanded' here) many times that we should help others, and not seek praise for it: ("Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" - Matthew 25:37-40)
("So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy... [Do it in such a way] that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." - Matthew 6:2-4)
Am I ready to give up what I have, and pour my whole life into following Jesus? I'm not sure I ever can be fully ready, or even fully willing. But I will try, and I will pray. Because I can't do it alone.