I feel like Jonah running away. I saw what today’s lesson was in Matthew 10 and ran smack dab in the middle of the difficult sayings of Jesus. I thought about talking only about verses 30 and 31: they seemed pretty safe.
Whenever Jesus spends time with His disciples, He gives them a radical call – to deny self, to give up the world, and to give up everything for Him. The original call that Jesus gave to the first disciples meant that they had to leave their jobs and homes and follow immediately, trusting only in Him.
In Matthew 10, He calls them again, this time to proclaim Him to others and to act in His name. This is the same radical call He gives to each of you, as His disciple. This doesn’t sound so radical does it? What could be so dangerous about simply saying, “I’m a Christian, and I’m here to offer you God and His love”?
Here’s how Jesus proclaims His call to us, in verse 27: “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light, and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”
What is this preaching from the housetops, and why does Jesus give such dire predictions about persecution that will accompany this action? For those whom Jesus sent out, preaching from the housetops meant that they were to preach in His name, heal diseases, and cast out demons.
But there would be resistance and persecution: Jesus Christ is an offense to those who are perishing and don’t want to give up themselves to God. He’s an affront to the idea that I’m O.K., that all religions, beliefs, and behaviors are the same, and He’s a challenge to the kingdom of man that resides deep in each human heart.
And so Jesus warns His disciples in verse 16, saying, “I send you out as sheep among wolves.” In verse17, He tells them that they will be delivered up to synagogues and councils and scourged (as He would be). “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake,” He plainly states in verse 22.
How’s that for rallying the troops? How did they respond to this difficult call, knowing what they would face? They faithfully preached from the housetops, especially after the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:36 (Peter): “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly
that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Acts 3:16 (Peter and John, after healing a man): “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know.”
Acts 4:20 (When commanded not to speak in name of Christ): Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
The end for all of the 12 apostles: martyrdom.
But what does preaching from the housetops mean for us? Jesus’ meaning isn’t literal, but it also isn’t meaningless. Preaching from the housetops means making Jesus Christ known to those in our lives. It might be best to think of making a small start. Why not proclaim Jesus Christ to your spouse and your kids? Why not preach Him to your brothers and sisters in Christ? They need to hear about Him and have Him in their lives every day.
Once we broaden the preaching Jesus from the housetops to include all that we might say about Jesus to all who have ears to hear, our job becomes much larger, more glorious, and more comprehensible. Instead of preaching Jesus being only the words that will get someone to say the Sinner’s Prayer, preaching Jesus is any time we proclaim Him and His Kingdom to anyone. In fact, the number one place that Jesus Christ is proclaimed or preached is in the Church, among believers!
When we practice this, then maybe we’ll be encouraged to preach Jesus to other people we know well. Every once in a while, when we are filled with Christ in our ears and hearts, we’ll want to preach Him to acquaintances or strangers, some of whom do not know Him.
What can we expect if we truly preach from the housetops? You won’t be delivered up to council or synagogues, and it’s not likely you’ll be thrown into prison. But you may have people look at you funny. Friends or work associates may back away from you a little bit.
What, then, will make us want to preach from the Housetops? Here’s something for starters: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (verses 32-33). What motivates some men may be the stick: that Christ will deny me if I deny Him. But what motivates me much more is the divine carrot: that if I preach Him from the housetops, He’ll announce and proclaim me in a higher place – Heaven!
What will make us preach Jesus Christ from the housetops? It’s knowing that He has and continues to faithfully proclaim us to the Father in Heaven. What makes me want to preach Him is that He lives within me. Finally, one day, I hope to hear (even in this life) those most blessed of words: “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
Prayer: Father, I thank You that I can approach Your throne room with confidence because Jesus Christ, my High Priest, proclaims me before You day and night. I praise You, Jesus, because You made the good confession on my behalf. I ask You, Spirit, that you might be for me the Spirit of Christ that I may want to follow my Master in all things, especially in preaching the Truth from the housetops. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
1. Who are some people God is asking me to speak to Jesus Christ about? Remember: it can be someone who is already a Christian. How might you speak about Jesus Christ to this person? (There are many ways of doing this.)
2. What keeps me from more boldly preaching Jesus? Is it fear? Or is it that I don’t know Him well enough and am not passionate enough about Him?
Resolution: I resolve to preach Jesus Christ intentionally to one person today.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson