I’m currently reading a history book about William Marshall, considered by the author to be one of England’s greatest knights. He served under five different kings in his lifetime and fought in a multitude of battles and tournaments. During the reign of Richard the Lionheart, Richard was being held for ransom in Germany, being captured on his way home from the Crusades. Richard’s brother, Count John, had taken bold steps to usurp the kingdom for himself in Richard’s absence.
William Marshall was a man of the battlefield, but commissioned with representing Richard’s interests back in England. The subtleties and subterfuges of court were challenging for him and he spent a lot of his time trying to defuse tensions between himself and Count John. There came a time, however, when John crossed lines that William couldn’t accept and he had to identify himself as allied with Richard. He faced severe consequences as a result and found himself losing lands and titles and being pressed to the brink of civil war… until Richard finally returned and set the whole kingdom right.
That account made me think about the passage we’ll be reading in Matthew 10 this Sunday. Jesus continues to give instruction to the disciples he sends out, and this week he’ll be giving some grave warnings. It will not, unfortunately, be a happy, bouncy message.
Why do you think it’s necessary to be both shrewd and innocent (harmless)? What are the dangers of either of these in isolation?
When Jesus says he came to bring a sword, not peace, how do you reconcile that with his title as “Prince of Peace”? Where does the conflict describe originate from; who is the aggressor?
What do you fear losing most in this life? How can Jesus’ words about the sparrow ease your fears?
How would you describe the cost of identification with Christ? What challenges your commitment to Christ and the kingdom of God the most? How can we learn from these instructions so as to increase our commitment to the mission?
This will be a challenging study – hope to see you this Sunday!