Hearing the first paragraph, might shake our faith. Before I studied the Word of God, I just skipped this passage as I thought this teaching was contrary to the earlier teachings of Jesus, love one another as I have loved you, honour your father and mother. What did Jesus mean by saying that he has come to spoil relationships in households.
Jesus had started his ministry to the Jews first, the chosen ones and all his lessons taught in parables, sermons, healings and his way of living. Being a Jew himself, his teachings had threatened the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law because Jesus told the people that the Law was not supreme, Love was. The three hundred and sixty-six rules of life set by the Jewish leaders were meant to make lives of the people pleasant, not to make them miserable, because they could not keep them. He came to earth also to change the perspective regarding God the Father, whom the Jews believed to be a punishing God, which He was not.
Here in this passage means to tell his disciples that while few members of the family and community would turn to Jesus and believe in Him, also accept the way of life that he taught, the rest of the family would turn against them and even ask them to leave their homes as this would be blasphemy as per the Jewish traditions. Hence Jesus warns his disciples that to follow him was not so simple, there would be no peace in the regular sense, but war. And when they decide to follow him, they would require to leave behind everyone and everything.
He further warns them that those who do not follow the first Commandment, the ones who give more attention to their parents, children, work, money, do not deserve to be part of his ministry. But He promises them that whoever gives God the first place and follows him, will be rewarded when he says, those who lose your life for my sake will find it.
Here, actually is the Upside-Down nature of God’s Kingdom. Those who will cling to things, at the cost of God, will in the end have nothing. And those who were willing to forsake all for Jesus, will find themselves satisfied beyond measure.
He further assures them rewards for helping the apostles and disciples in their ministry by giving them shelter, food and also helping the needy. Matthew probably was referring to the little ones to the Apostles/Disciples who mostly were uneducated and the message was that if God will reward anyone who gives a cup of water, then how much more will God reward the ones who give more.
Let us again read and reflect on the above passage and listen to what God is saying to us. Am I holding on to the something/someone that I am not able to give myself to Jesus, am I not able to hear the call of the needy. Ask Jesus to help us open our eyes and ears.