Sunday, January 27, 2013

He that receiveth you receiveth me

This struck me yesterday:
Matthew 10:40-42 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
“When Jesus said this he was using a way of speaking that the Jews regularly used. [They] felt that to receive a person’s envoy or messenger was to the same as to receive the person himself. To pay respect to an ambassador was to pay respect to the king who had sent him. To welcome with love the messenger of a friend was the same as to welcome the friend himself.”     ~William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew p. 397-398
Jews in ancient Israel also understood that this admonition to pay good attention to and welcome a messenger with love or respect and heed the message he carried would only be true if the ambassador, envoy or messenger were carrying a true and accurate message. If he was carrying a message that the messenger thought was authentic but which was not, or if he was carrying a message that he had invented himself, there was no virtue in receiving him as if he were the sender he represented. And it was your responsibility, as host, to determine whether or not the message was truly from the person it purported to be. Hence the use of seals and sealing wax to verify that the message had not been tampered with. The recipient was expected to use his own eyes and reason to check the state of the seal and the content of the message to determine its validity.
A quick search of the concordance reminds me that the admonitions in the standard works are to hearken to prophets (hearken, in the years following the KJV translation meant to listen; to listen eagerly or curiously, to attend, to pay regard (Samuel Johnson’s 1785 dictionary)) but the admonitions to “follow” only refer to Jesus and righteousness. I think that’s significant.
From the above I assume that we may say that messages may be sent via messengers, but it is the recipient’s responsibility to determine the accuracy of the message and act accordingly.

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