‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me’.
There is no doubt that it is a huge privilege to represent Jesus in this community. OK let me say that again so that you can take it in at this early stage of the morning. It is a huge privilege to represent Jesus in this community. No I don’t mean just me.I don’t mean the clergy. It is certainly a privilege for us. But I mean you. You who attend church. You who are known to be Christians in the community.
And in particular those of you who have bravely signed up to knock on doors for the Who Cares survey and are doing this not because you want to but because you feel Christ is calling you to do so.
It occurred to me as I was writing this that the best image of how Jesus seeks to speak to us now is that wonderful image of the Light of the World by Holman Hunt.
As you will remember, it is a picture hanging in Keble College Oxford and a couple of other places of a door in a wall covered in creepers. The door hasn’t been opened for years and Jesus holding a lantern is knocking on the door. The door represents the human heart.
When Holman Hunt exhibited the painting critics said he had made a mistake – there was no handle on the door. He said ‘the handle is on the inside’.
The human heart can only be opened by a decision of the individual to open it.
No evangelism, no speaking about God can be done by force if we are to be Christ like – we must use gentleness and respect. We Christians must live our lives recognising the example we set and waiting for the questions to be asked.
So gentle knocking on a door, like Jesus, like doing the Who Cares survey, is being Christ in our community.
But there is something important here: the reaction of those who open the door is a reaction of course to us – poor weak and rather inadequate Christians but also a reaction to Christ who sent us and to God who sent him.
I am not saying that those who are rude to you when you knock on the door with the Who Cares survey are condemning themselves before God. But those who are hospitable, who are friendly are welcoming a righteous person (if not a prophet) will, according to Jesus in this passage receive a righteous person’s reward.
How we open the door to righteous people has an impact on us for eternity because in doing so we have welcomed Jesus into our house.
40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever 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; 42 and 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.”
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 10:40–42). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.