One friend recently offered, “You and Dave should come and stay in our apartment in Chicago, enjoy the city, go out to some shows..” Another promised a wonderful meal next time I’m in New York. I’m sure you’ve all had similar offers – enticing offers promising good times, good food, good conversation with friends.
And then Jesus comes along and says, You think that’s a good offer, I’ve got one much better. In the words of today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus offers follow me and…
…you’ll be sent out like sheep in the midst of wolves
…you will be handed over to courts
…you’ll be scourged in the synagogues
…you will be hated by all because of my name.
Well, now, that’s real enticing isn’t it? Makes you want to run right down the street and be the first to sign up. (Or maybe not.)
Perhaps recognizing how tough this sounds, Jesus does sweeten the pot a little. He gives us His promise that doesn’t send us out alone. When you are handed over, I will give you the words to say; the Spirit of God will be with you. And the payoff is enormous: Jesus says, if you endure to the end, you will be with me always.
It is not an invitation for the faint of heart. But that is the deal on the table.
We each get to decide what we’re going to do with it.