The book of Matthew likens Jesus to Moses in many ways, including having Jesus deliver five sermons that give law and define the shape and structure of the new community. These sermons become a new Torah (the five books of Moses) for a new covenant community. The sermon on the mount (Chapters 5-7) gives new law. Here in chapter ten, we find the second sermon, which focuses on the mission of the new community and some of its characteristics.
· Look at verse 5. Note that Jesus instructs his disciples to “go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Now look at 28:16-20. What changed? Why?
· Verse 7 gives the disciples two tasks. What are they? What does that tell you about the values of the early church? Do they match our values?
· Verses 9-10: how are the disciples to provision themselves for the journey?
· Verses 11-15: how should they respond if their message is not welcomed? This is an interesting question about evangelism. We’re often tempted to change the message to make the gospel more palatable. We measure our success by the size of our membership. Jesus gives his disciples a different measure of success. Matthew consistently values faithfulness over popularity.
· What do verses 16 through 23 tell you about what Matthew’s community was experiencing? Notice that persecution comes from the synagogues, the government, and even from family members. In the second century there was a popular tale about a woman named Thecla who worked with the apostle Paul. When she decided not to marry and have children so that she could do the work of the gospel her own mother shouted her down in public and called for her execution. Christianity represented a deep threat to Roman values that even a mother would be willing to sacrifice her own daughter rather than let her follow the unconventional path Christianity offered. What does it mean to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”?
· Verses 26-31: First the reference to “nothing secret” may be in response to nascent Gnosticism (try saying that three times fast!), the movement that taught Jesus had passed on secret messages to his true disciples. Think about the idea that God provides for the sparrows. The comfort that image offers is different in Matthew’s context than it is in ours.
· Verses 32-39: More trouble with Jesus’ family values! Compare this section with Luke 12:51-53 and 14:26-27. This is from Q.
· Verses 40-42: These verses make Calvinists nervous. We have several options available to us. 1. We can ignore them. 2. We can twist them around until they cooperate with our theology. 3. We can change our theology. 4. We can get used to the idea that we disagree with parts of the Bible — indeed that parts of the Bible disagree with other parts and that we join in that argument. Hmm…I wonder what a bunch of contrarians will choose?