40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
There are three welcoming statements in these verses from Matt. 10:
Welcome the prophets who bring a message that people don’t always want to hear.
Welcome the righteous who work for justice in an unjust world – a risky calling.
And the last one that I want to concentrate on welcome the little ones or the least significant. The welcoming hospitality is a cup of cold water offered in Jesus name. The context of these words occur as Jesus sends his disciples out on a targeted mission – to his own people the Jews inviting then into God’s Kingdom. For us in our society, offering a cup of cold water has become a metaphorical symbol of welcoming and meeting another’s needs. The cup of cold water resonates with Jesus’ words at the end of the Parable of the separation of the Sheep and Goats…. Whatever you did for one of the least of these …. you did it for me or INASMUCH.
A cup of cold water was more than a metaphysical symbol in Jesus day. The hot climate meant that a cup of cold water was not only a welcoming gesture but certainly met a need within that hot territory. You may recall Abraham sitting at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day when three strangers appear. They are offered water and shade They are welcomed before a real meal is prepared. They turn out to be messages from God, bringing the news of God’s promise coming to fruition in Issacs.
As we consider the importance of this text to us in Northern Illawarra. Let’s recall the Parable of the Banquet. Invitations sent out to the affluent but they have excuses; too busy;
Just invested in more real estate, need to check it out
Just purchased a new vehicle, need to take it for a spin.
Just got married –we have own party going on thanks but no thanks.
Go out into the alleys, streets welcome the lame, blind, crippled, the Master says while there is still room Welcome all those that are not so welcomed in society; the marginalized and challenged.
I’ve been thinking in this time of lock down of Northern Illawarra mission when we are open to welcome again. Northern Illawarra is a welcoming faith community. Hospitality in the broadest sense is the modus operandi. Could it be that God has a targeted mission for us in this affluent suburb of Wollongong? Yet LONELINESS is as much an issue here as anywhere. Many people who come to the Community Meal come for the company [and the meal] They come to be part of a community, where they are accepted and welcomed. A community where God’s love is tangible. A community where an intentional understanding of God’s love is presented.
Isolation and loneliness can cause tunnel vision, so that people don’t see the cup of water unless someone close by offers it. Water is the symbol of life. Jesus is the living water. A cup of cold water offered in Jesus name not only provides survival but it opens up a reservoir of hope and new life.
There is much that could be expanded in this mission field as the cup of cold water is offered. Jesus says the harvest is ripe – pray for workers. The harvest has not been so ripe in the western world where the church is declining. But a targeted mission…… based on a cup cold water……. to the little ones….
If we could reclaim to a greater extent this simple but profound lesson then the church may be able to go out into the community and make disciples.