Matthewby Mike Raiter
In His missionary sermon (Matthew10), Jesus warned His disciples of rejection and persecution on two fronts: ″you will be brought before governors and kings″ (Matthew 10:18), and your own family will oppose you (Matthew 10:21). As Matthew records the mounting opposition against Jesus, we see both domestic and political aspects.
I was born and raised in Liverpool, England. I remember, as a young boy, sitting on my father's shoulders as the crowds lined the streets to welcome back our world-conquering heroes, The Beatles. We were proud that four sons of our city had achieved such success.
It is remarkable, then, that while Jesus was being acclaimed everywhere else, people in His hometown of Nazareth were so cynical and unbelieving (vv. 53-58). Perhaps they were jealous that such an ″ordinary″ man should find such fame? Perhaps they were offended that He, one of them, should be telling them how to live? Perhaps they were angry that He wasn't using His powers more for the benefit of His hometown? Whatever the reason, they refuse to believe in Him and dismiss Him as unworthy of honour. Only where there is faith will Jesus bring the blessings of salvation.
Matthew deliberately places the story of John the Baptist's death next to his account of the rejection of Jesus. John had publicly condemned Herod for his incestuous marriage to the wife of his half-brother. Israel's faithful prophets called Israel to return to the Lord by trusting Him and turning away from evil. Many paid the ultimate price for their faithful preaching. John the Baptist stands in this noble tradition: boldly preaching, even at the cost of his own life. Of course, this prepares us for the ultimate sacrifice of the One who is greater than John.
These two stories remind us that since the gospel is a confronting message, those who preach this gospel may face the same angry response as Jesus and John. Jesus was both misunderstood and dishonoured. John and Jesus were killed because they preached the gospel of God faithfully and without compromise. While the ministries of John and Jesus were unique, the response to their preaching is not. All who faithfully proclaim God's Word will meet faith and repentance, but also unbelief, misunderstanding, and opposition. This is Jesus' call to all who proclaim Him: a great cost but a glorious reward.
Why are close family and friends often difficult to reach with the gospel? How can we appropriately share our faith with them?
How does the murder of John the Baptist prepare us for what will happen to Jesus?