Welcoming a Prophet

By: Rev. Gerry Weesner, Maples United Methodist Church

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:40-42 (NIV).

In our scripture passage, Jesus tells us that people who serve in his name deserve respect and support, and that those who offer such hospitality in his name will not lose their reward. In the larger context of this chapter, Jesus spoke these words after commissioning the disciples to cast out demons and to cure every sort of sickness, even though this meant sending them out “like sheep into the midst of wolves.”  Jesus advised them to take no money, bag or extra clothing, but to depend upon the people they met for hospitality.

Jesus made it clear that welcoming one of them equaled welcoming Jesus, which equaled welcoming the Father. Welcoming a prophet or a righteous person meant earning the same reward as the welcomed persons did. Jesus added, “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.”

Jesus’ remarks here indicate just how important God’s messengers can be! This is especially true with outsiders, those evangelists and church workers who may be visiting, or persons new to our fellowship, with whom we don’t have a long-shared history but whose perspectives as newcomers can be vital to our growth as a faith community!

Jesus tells his disciples of the kind treatment which they would receive from the hands of others, and he encourages such treatment by the assurance that he will accept it as if extended to himself.

He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet, or a righteous man because he is a righteous man, or who gives a drink of water to a disciple because he is a disciple, distinctly recognizes the person’s relation to God as the ground of the act; and to that extent God is honored by the act.

A prophet’s reward is not synonymous with final salvation; for while it is true that in heaven we will have full reward for all the good we do on earth, we will have infinitely more than this, and our admission into heaven is a matter of grace, and not of reward. So, then, the promise of the text does not imply the salvation of all that receive a prophet, but simply that they shall be rewarded.