40Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even 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.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: Whoever welcomes you welcomes me…
What does it mean to welcome Jesus? In this passage, it seems that welcoming those who are sent by Jesus is a first step in welcoming Jesus himself. And who are those sent by Jesus? All who bear his name are sent. We are all apostles (meaning “those sent forth”) if we claim faith in Jesus Christ.
This means that welcoming is an important spiritual task of the Church. Literally, the word means to make someone’s entrance into the community a positive experience that works for their good – a well coming. The question for the local church, then, as it seeks to live out this task of the Church universal, is how do we focus our energy on receiving others in such a way that promotes their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being? This becomes the challenge for the individual Christian as well, as he or she extends the welcome of the local church out into the community and in the home.
Ultimately, this requires us to see every person we encounter as Christ. For if we are welcoming them, we are potentially welcoming Christ. Even if they do not wear the name of Christ in faith, our welcome extends to their Maker and Savior – whether they know who that is or not. Remember the focus on those sent by Jesus. Those who come to find answers or healing or hope in the Church or in interactions with Christians are sent to those places by Jesus in prevenient grace, even when it is unbeknownst to them.
As you meet new people this week, be they fellow believers or rough around the edges or even just seemingly rotten to the core (or perhaps a little mixture of the three!), remember to bring them into an embrace of holy love. Let your life be an invitation to their well-being. In doing so, you might find yourself welcoming Christ himself.
Prayer Focus: Whoever gives even 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.
There are a lot of big needs to pray for in our world. Perhaps offering a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty seems small and insignificant. If more people, however, worked diligently to meet these seemingly small needs in their communities, then there would be fewer big needs around the world. Pray this week for those who need small acts of help and kindness. Ask God to open your eyes to those needs around you. Perhaps it is your neighbor who needs such an act of mercy. It might even be someone in your own home. God will show you how you can respond to such needs if you will be faithful to ask for that wisdom in prayer.
Meditation Focus: Whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
This week, we are going to practice welcoming Jesus into our lives. Jesus is always with us through the Holy Spirit, but how often do we ignore or overlook the presence of Christ? This week’s meditation can be practiced anywhere. When you enter into a room, simply pause for a second and recognize the presence of the Spirit of Christ int hat space, attend to that presence, and (as sort of a mantra) speak in your heart, “Welcome, Lord Jesus.” After doing so, take a deep breath and allow Christ to return your welcome. Then go about your business. The whole process will take about 15-30 seconds. You can do this when entering your kitchen, your office, the store, the car, anywhere and everywhere you go. Do not be troubled if you forget to do this in one place, as each new place you go will afford you an additional opportunity.
Journaling Focus: …will receive the reward of the righteous…
What is the reward of the righteous? Sometimes we are uncomfortable talking about rewards and punishments when looking at Scripture. But this language is used regularly in the New Testament. Another word used to convey the same meaning in Scripture is inheritance. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of our spiritual inheritance in this way: “you…were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) Imagine this – the Holy Spirit is the down payment, so to speak, on our future inheritance from God! Can you imagine anything greater than living with the very presence of God guiding, loving, and being beside you? Our inheritance is not the riches of things, but the riches of communion with God. Take a moment to write about the part of your spiritual inheritance that you are most excitedly anticipating. How might you even experience a foreshadow of this now?
Welcome someone. Say hi to a stranger or offer a smile to a passerby. Offer a gesture of goodwill to someone this week in an unexpected place or manner. Discover how this changes the way others react to you and how it changes the way you view other people.
Breath Prayer: Father, draw us into your welcoming arms.