“A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master.” - Matthew 10:24
Public figures and advertisers often make their pronouncements in such a way that negatives are obscured by positives. We are well aware of this, and we greet much of what we are told with skepticism. We inquire, “Where’s the catch?”
The pronouncements of Jesus were refreshingly different. There was no small print, no obscuring of the downside. He made it clear that anyone who became his disciple could expect the same kind of treatment that was being meted out to him. He warned, “A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master” (10:24). Not only would his disciples be subjected to harassment and persecution, but much of it would come from those nearest and dearest to them (10:21-22, 34-36).
Despite the costs, millions through the centuries have chosen to follow Jesus. They have discovered a cause to live for in a world that lacks meaning and significance. They have believed that Christ is the world’s only hope, and to be identified with him and his cause is to be part of the only lasting solution to human ills. They have taken seriously his words, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul” (10:28). They have discovered that the downside Jesus predicted is manageable because he also promised the empowering of the indwelling Spirit. They have taken great comfort in the fact that God, who keeps inventory on sparrows and records hair loss on men (10:29-30), will not let any eventuality escape his attention. And when it is all over they anticipate a promised reward of eternal proportions!
Sometimes life doesn’t treat us as kindly as we fondly imagine it should. We are often told, “Nobody said life would be a rose garden.” But in a very real sense Jesus did say this! Rose gardens are full of both roses and thorns. Roses and thorns are what he predicted, and that is exactly what his followers experience. He gives us the roses of his love and grace, but we also experience the thorns of adversity and opposition. You can’t have the former without the latter.
When you feel the sharpness of adversity’s thorns, remember that Jesus felt the pain of the cross to purchase for you the sweet fragrance of his salvation. He regarded his thorns as necessary and worthwhile in order for the roses to bloom. So should we. So smell the roses and look out for the thorns! He promised you both.
For Further Study: Matthew 10:16-42
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