9:56 AM

On the Nature of the Witness in Ch. 10 by Tim Kumfer

In Matthew 10, the disciples are called to witness to a kingdom which is brought into fullness through vulnerability and suffering (vv. 9-10), in contrast to the Judean political and religious elites’ attempts to secure their people’s fate through collusion with the Roman Empire (vv. 17-8). This new kingdom is breaking forth at the margins of the social body (vv. 1, 8), amidst the poor and impure which the rulers have suppressed or excised. Jesus instructs his disciples to be laborers in the harvest (9:37-8) through going to the towns and villages of these hoi polloi and relying on their hospitality; in effect, they are to be community organizers for the kingdom whose very mode of presence exemplifies it. The proclamation and embodiment of this radically different way will inevitably lead to conflict, as it is a fundamental reconfiguration of the society which Judean elites have painstakingly constructed. They will drag the disciples before Roman governors and client kings (v. 18) and seek the power to put them to death (v. 28) in an attempt to eradicate the Jesus movement and restore stability to the social order. This family drama within Israel (vv. 21, 35-37) will thus play out before the nations; it is incumbent upon the disciples to maintain a mode of vulnerable presence (25: 31-46) despite persecution in imitation of their Master (vv. 24-26) and his cross (v. 39) that their witness may serve to bring the Gentiles unto Israel.

Comment (1)

Nicely put, T. It is useful to compare the future of the disciples here to what happens to Jesus in the final stages of Matthew's story. He is drug before Gentile rulers and their clients and, at his death, draws "Truly this was the Son of God" from the centurion.

The way you understand the conflict brought by the pace of Jesus here is exactly right, I think. Jesus' nonviolent love is not tolerable for a world addicted to violence.

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