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A Prophet's Reward

Matthew 10:40-42

The Rev. Jon Roberts

29 June

2014

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41 He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

Christ calling Matthew by Jans Sanders van Hemessen, 1548

Faith is to believe what you do not see.
The reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
What we do not see here on earth is God. One day, when we are face to face we will see Him clearly. That will be our reward. But what if we don’t recognize God because we had no faith? Worse yet, what if God doesn’t recognize us?

Once upon a time there was a middle-aged woman who had a heart attack and she was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table, she had a near death experience. Seeing God, she asked "Is my time up?" God said, "No. You still have another 43 years, 2 months, and 8 days to live." She was then sent back. Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and take advantage of her remaining time on earth. Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it. She got a facelift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair color. After her last procedure she was released from the hospital. Enamored by her new look she wasn’t paying attention while crossing over to the parking lot and suddenly was hit and killed by a speeding ambulance. Arriving in front of God, she demanded, "I thought you said I had another 40 years? Why didn't you pull me from out of the path of the ambulance?" There was a pause and then God replied, "Because I didn't recognize you!"

What are ways God doesn’t recognize us? When we forget his laws. When we no longer make righteous living a priority. A righteous life is about telling the truth. The truth is based on who God is and who He wants us to be. Within our sin, our self-centeredness He does not know us. Those who believe in God, in the truth found only in Him, will have their reward. St. Paul writes to the romans, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of Jesus Christ is eternal life.”[2] Paul was one who went through many personal changes. He acted poorly and accused men wrongly for the sake of the Law. He had them put to death and later had a good night’s sleep; All this for the sake of his own self-righteousness but not living as one in prayer and supplication to God. One day it was revealed to him that he was wrong. His view of the world, inside a small enclave of religious casuistry, was narrow and incomplete of God. It was artificial and fake. The answer was to turn his life over to Christ.

To repent and turn away from one’s sins was the first step. What’s next? What do we do next in order that God may recognize us? Easy. We find our answer in the Gospel when Jesus speaks of those who will receive their reward when they welcome three types of people.[3] When we welcome the prophet; when we welcome the righteous; and when we welcome the child, we receive our reward. These three examples also relate to the Trinity. The one in authority, who holds the truth, like the prophet, is God the Father. The one who serving others before him/herself, who holds the truth, like the righteous, is God the Son. The one who is pure of heart, joyful in all things, who holds the truth, like the child, is God the Holy Spirit. We are supposed to be drawn into all three.

Jesus is before men of authority and before a crowd of women and children once more. Those out to get him and run him over are listening to every word. But they cannot recognize him, what he is claiming to be. Jesus speaks once more to this faith that believes in what cannot be seen. He wants to say, “I am God,” but instead he phrases it like a riddle. “He who welcomes the prophet will get the prophet’s reward.” This smacks at the establishment, of those like Paul in his prior, self-righteous life, who put men to death when they stepped outside of the Law of men. Prophets were stoned and put to death. If you receive me [Jesus] then you will die. He goes further. “He who welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous.” This foreshadows the death he would suffer on the cross. By his righteousness he died so that we may live.

Lastly, “He who gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” This is the acts of the apostles as the living water, given by the Holy Spirit, empowers them with the revelation of God. Now do you have the faith to believe in what is not seen? Jesus has revealed who he is. He has secured your eternal life if you recognize him here on earth. Cast aside your sins. Live by faith in Him, asking Him daily what His bidding may be. Don’t be artificial or fake thinking that there is more time than there actually is.

Faith is to believe what you do not see.
The reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

[1] St. Augustine
[2] Romans 6:23
[3] Matthew 10:40-42

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