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Gospel of Matthew 10: 40-42 (NIV)
40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 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. 42 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.”
This passage concludes Jesus’ instruction to his disciples before he sent them out, two by two.
I have just finished reading a review by Miriam Cosic* of Jewish writer Nir Baram’s most recent book, A Land without Borders: My Journey Around East Jerusalem and the West Bank, (Text Publishing, 2017). That review assists me as I try to imagine the diversity of views that Jesus’ disciples would have encountered as they entered the towns and villages and spoke to the inhabitants throughout Galilee.
Perhaps we should not limit to a binary response our interpretations of the contrasting positions Jesus presented to his disciples when he said, “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” (Matthew 10: 32-33).
The response to these pairs of disciples more likely would have ranged from outright hostility to their proclamation that “the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 10: 7), through suspicious distrust and grudging acceptance, to a full embracing both of them and of their message.
Despite their relative inexperience in this apostolic role, they would find some who would receive them. These would receive them in the sense of affording them hospitality but would also receive them in the sense of accepting gladly the teaching they brought.
In accepting the disciples and that teaching, the inhabitants of Galilee were, in fact, accepting the teaching of Jesus and that included his claim to be Son of Man, Son of God. In accepting this about Jesus they were, indeed, accepting the Father as identified to humankind by Jesus.
We are challenged with the same today. We who receive the message of the Gospel as brought to us through the ages are indeed receiving Jesus as the authority for that message. In accepting him we accept God as Father of all.
*Review, “The Weekend Australian”, 27-28 May 2017, p. 20.