Matthew 10 - The Sending of the Twelve

 

A. Twelvedisciples chosen and commissioned.

 

1.(1-4) The twelve disciples are listed.

 

And when He had calledHis twelve disciples to Him, Hegave them power over uncleanspirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds ofdisease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who iscalled Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip andBartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname wasThaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

 

a.When He had called His twelve disciples to Him:The main feature of this list is its diversity. Jesus chose His disciples from a variety of backgrounds and lifeexperiences. About all they had in common was it seems that none of them wereprivileged or from backgrounds of high status.

 

i.This is in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29: For you see your calling, brethren,that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, arecalled. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame thewise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame thethings which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things whichare despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothingthe things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

 

b.He gave them power over unclean spirits, to castthem out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease: Jesus did not only call the twelve. He also gave them power to do what He had called them to do. The sameprinciple holds true today: whom God calls, God equips. The equipping may notbe completely evident before the ministry begins, but it will be evident alongthe way.

 

c.Now the names of the twelve apostles are these:These twelve (excepting Judas, of course), have an important place in God’splan of redemption, including some particular role in the future judgment(Matthew 19:28), and in the founding of the church (Ephesians 2:20). The Biblepromises that their position and work will be remembered through eternity(Revelation 21:14).

 

i. This is the first and only timein Matthew that the twelve are called apostles. “The word apostle literally means onewho is sent out; it is the word for an envoy or an ambassador.” (Barclay) “Called here for the first and last timeapostoloi, with reference at onceto the immediate minor mission and to the later great one.” (Bruce)

 

Š      Theword apostle can mean a mere messenger,as in John 13:16, referring to he who is sent.

Š      Jesusis called an apostle in Hebrews 3:1: consider the Apostle and High Priest ofour confession.

Š      Paulsometimes used the word in the sense of messengers or representatives, as in 2Corinthians 8:23: they are messengers[apostles] of the churches;possibly also in Romans 16:7.

Š     Yet Paul also used the term in a more narrow sense,referring to the Twelve and himself by special dispensation (1 Corinthians9:1-5 and 15:7-10; Galatians 1:17 and 1:19 following).

 

ii. There are four different listsof the twelve in the New Testament.Here in Matthew 10:2-4, and also in Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:13-16, and Acts 1:13.In these lists, Peter is always listed first and Judas is always listed last.The two pairs of brothers (Peter and Andrew; James and John) are always listedfirst. In the lists they are arranged in a way that suggests that they werearranged in three groups of four, each with a leader.

 

Š      Ineach list Peter is first mentioned, followed by Andrew, James, and John.

Š      Ineach list Philip is fifth mentioned, followed by Bartholomew, Thomas, andMatthew.

Š      Ineach list James the son of Alphaeus is ninth mentioned, followed byThaddaeus/Judas brother of James, Simon the Zealot, and Judas.

 

iii.“The apostolic number fitly represents the twelve tribes of Israel; and forpractical purposes the twelve form a workable band of leaders, a sufficientjury, and a competent company of witnesses.” (Spurgeon)

 

iv.Bartholomew is often identified withNathanael of John 1:43-51 and John 21:2. “Many are ofopinion that this was Nathanael . . .whose name was probably Nathanael bar Talmai, Nathanael, the son of Talmai: here, his own name is repressed, and he is called BarTalmai, or Bartholomew, from his father.”(Clarke)

 

v. “Bartholomew is never mentioned without an and: he was a kind of man to work with other people.”(Spurgeon)

 

vi.“We must not understand by Canaanite apagan, (for Christ sent out none but Jews,) but one of Cana.” (Poole)

 

vii.“Iscariot is usually thought to mean‘man of Kerioth’ (a city in southern Judaea), but has also been explained asmeaning ‘traitor’, ‘assassin’, ‘carrier of the leather bag’, or ‘redhead’!”(France)

 

viii.They are called disciples in Matthew10:1 and apostles in Matthew 10:2. “It is worthy of notice, that those who were Christ's apostles were first his disciples; to intimate, that men must be first taught of God, before they be sent of God.” (Clarke)

 

2.(5-6) Where they are to go: unto Israel (the Jewish people) only.

 

These twelve Jesus sentout and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and donot enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of thehouse of Israel.”

 

a.These twelve Jesus sent out: Jesus wastouring around the region of Galilee teaching, preaching, and helping needypeople with miraculous power (Matthew 4:23. The sending of these twelve was a conscious expanding ofthat work. Now the work of Jesus was being done by many more than simply JesusHimself.

 

i.And commanded them: “The word which isused in the Greek for Jesus commandinghis men, or giving them orders isinteresting and illuminating. It is the word paragellein. This word in Greek has four special usages. (i) Itis the regular word of military command. . . . (ii) It is the word used ofcalling one’s friends to one’s help. . . . (iii) It is the word which is usedof a teaching giving rules and precepts to his students. . . . (iv) It is theword which is regularly used for an imperial command.”

 

b.Do not go into the way ofthe Gentiles: This is thepattern of the gospel - it is for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans 1:16). Later, the gospel would go to boththe Samaritans and the Gentiles, but it had to begin with the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

 

i.“That Jesus felt it necessary to mention the Samaritans at all presupposes John4. The disciples, happy in the exercise of their ability to perform miracles,might have been tempted to evangelize the Samaritans because they rememberedJesus’ success there.” (Carson)

 

ii.“The emphasis of the saying lies not primarily on the prohibition of a widermission, but on the priority of the mission to Israel.” (France) “The effect ofthis order was in actual fact to limit the first journeys of the twelve toGalilee.” (Barclay)

 

c.But go rather to the lost sheep of the house ofIsrael: God’s intention was to reach the whole world, but beginningwith Israel. There was certainlyenough work to do among the lost sheep of thehouse of Israel to keep the twelve busy until God directly commandedthem to expand their ministry.

 

i.Significantly, Jesus still called the Jewish people “thehouse of Israel” even though they had lost their Jewish state manydecades before this time. God still sawthem as “Israel,” even when there wasnot a political entity known as “Israel.”

 

ii.Who were the lost sheep of Israel? Ina sense, all of them were. All we like sheep have gone astray; we haveturned, every one, to his own way. (Isaiah53:6).

 

iii.Yet in another sense, there were also lost sheepthat were abused and neglected by their spiritual shepherds, the scribes,priests, and Pharisees. This is the sense of Jeremiah 50:6: My people havebeen lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray. It is also the sense of Jesus when He ate withsinners at the home of Matthew (Matthew 9:10-13).

 

iv.Because so many were so spiritually neglected, Jesus sent these apostles out. “Thebeginnings of the mission to the neglected ‘lost’ sheep of Israel may be foundin the Capernaum feast (Matthew 9:10). As time went on Jesus felt increasinglythe pressure of the problem and the need for extended effort.” (Bruce)

 

v.“Like sheep, that silly creature, than the which as none is more apt to wander,so neither any more unable to return.” (Trapp)

 

3.(7-8a) What they are to do: go out preaching and healing.

 

“And as you go, preach,saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers,raise the dead, cast out demons.”

 

a.As you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heavenis at hand.” Earlier (Matthew 4:17) we were told that Jesus’ messagewas, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The disciples brought the same message Jesuspreached, simply bringing it over a much broader area than Jesus could just byHimself.

 

i.We may also surmise that they were to repeat many of the themes found in theSermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), because that message tells what life in the kingdom of heaven should be like.

 

ii.“Men will do much for a kingdom. And nothing less than a kingdom, and that ofheaven, can buy men out of their sweet sins.” (Trapp)

 

iii.There is no mention of them preaching inthe synagogues, only being scourged in them (Matthew 10:17). This was a house-to-house,open field, street preaching ministry.

 

b.Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise thedead, cast out demons: The disciples both had a message to preachand a power to display. In this, they were truly followers of their Master.

 

i.The authority for these disciples to raise thedead is remarkable; yet the later fulfillment of it was recorded inboth Acts 9 and 20, and there were no doubt other unrecorded instances. We haveno evidence that either such a thing was common, or that this authority hasbeen permanently withdrawn. It is wise for Christians today to both believe inGod’s power to do such miracles through His people, and to not be too quick tobelieve unsubstantiated reports of such miracles.

 

4.(8b-15) How they were to provide for themselves.

 

“Freely you havereceived, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your moneybelts, nor bag for your journey,nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and staythere till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If thehousehold is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, letyour peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words,when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom andGomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

 

a.Freely you have received, freely give:Jesus charged His disciples nothing, and He expected them to give ministry untoothers without charge. This is the foundational principle for the commands thatfollow.

 

i.“What a scandal is it for a man to traffic with giftswhich he pretends, at least, to have received from the Holy Ghost, of which heis not the master, but the dispenser. He who preaches to get a living, or to make a fortune, is guilty of the most infamous sacrilege.” (Clarke)

 

b.Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in yourmoney belts: They should expect God to meet their needs, without taking undue concern for their own needs.Furthermore, they should expect that God would normally meet their needsthrough the inspired hospitality of others.

 

i.“Our Saviour designed to give them an experience of the providence of God, andto teach them to trust in it.” (Poole)

 

ii.“He was once again speaking words which were very familiar to a Jew. The Talmud tells us that: ‘No one is to go to the Temple Mountwith staff, shoes, girdle of money, or dusty feet.’ The idea was that when aman entered the temple, he must make it quite clear that he had left everythingwhich had to do with trade and business and worldly affairs behind.” (Barclay)

 

iii. “Take [Provide]is literally ‘obtain’ . . . The saying in its Matthaean form thus does not somuch specify the appropriate equipment for traveling, but rather assures thedisciples that no previous fund-raising is necessary, nor need specialequipment be acquired. They can go just as they are, and the mission isurgent.” (France)

 

iv.“The well-known discrepancy over the staff(Mark 6:8 specifically allows them to carry one) may arise from the differencein the verbs: the Matthaean version forbids the acquisition of a staff for thejourney, while the Marcan allows them to take (only) the one they alreadypossess.” (France)

 

v.“See Luke 22:36: ‘He that hath a purse, let him take it . . .’ Different modesof procedure are to be adopted at different times. Oh, that some of our veryspiritual brethren had a little common sense! We offer the prayer with a veryfaint heart.” (Spurgeon)

 

c.For a worker is worthy of his food:When they came among others, they were to be workers among them. They would work among them in bothspiritual work and practical work. We can imagine them preaching the Word ofGod, praying for and with people, and helping with the farm work.

 

i.Even though the twelve could expect their needs to be met through the peoplethey served, they should never require their needs to be met as payment. Thefoundational principle was freely you havereceived, freely give.

 

ii.“Men who carry out the spirit of these precepts will not labour in vain. Theirlife will preach the kingdom better than their words, which may be feeble andhelpless.” (Bruce)

 

d.If the household is worthy . . . if it is notworthy: Those who did receive these disciples can expect to beblessed (let your peace come upon it);but those places that refused them could expect to be treated as Gentilescities (shake off the dust from your feet),and as such, were in serious danger of judgment.

 

i.“To settle in the house of a ‘worthy’ person implies that the disciples werenot to shop around for the most comfortable quarters.” (Carson)

 

ii.“Easy to perform, not easy to perform in a right spirit; too apt to be theoutcome of irritation, disappointment, and wounded vanity = they did notappreciate me, I abandon them to theirfate. Christ meant the act to symbolize the responsibility of the inhabitantsfor the result.” (Bruce)

 

iii.“Two sure signs of reprobate goats: 1. Not to receive Christ’s ministers tohouse and harbour, accounting themselves happy in such entertainment. 2. Not tohear their words.” (Trapp)

 

B. Jesusprepares the disciples for persecution.

 

1.(16-18) Persecution will come.

 

“Behold, I send you outas sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless asdoves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourgeyou in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for Mysake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.”

 

a.I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves:Jesus freely and honestly warned His disciples that they would facepersecution. Because they went out without police or military protection, Hesent them as sheep in the midst of wolves.

 

i.“Here you see sheep sent forth among the wolves, as if they were the attackingparty, and were bent upon putting down their terrible enemies. It is a novelsight, such as nature can never show, but grace is fall of marvels.” (Spurgeon)

 

ii.“Picture it in your mind’s eye. The timid sheep trembles at it. The wolves arerough, unmannerly, coarse-minded, irritating, annoying; the poor sheep does notfeel at home in such company. He sees every now and then the white teethglittering within the wolf’s mouth, and he is ill at ease. The sheep wishes hewere back again in the quiet fold among his happy brethren; but the Shepherdknows what he is at, and it is the duty of the sheep to obey, and to go intothe midst of the wolves if his Shepherd bids him.” (Spurgeon)

 

iii.“After all, the mission of sheep to wolves is a hopeful one, since we see inthe natural world that the sheep, though so feeble, by far outnumber the wolveswho are so fierce. The day will come when persecutors will be as scarce aswolves, and saints as numerous as sheep.” (Spurgeon)

 

b.Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless asdoves: Despite their vulnerable position, Jesus’ followers were notto defend themselves with worldly forms of power. They were to remain harmless as doves, though wise as serpents.

 

i.Wisdom would keep them from attracting trouble unnecessarily or show them howto avoid it without compromise. Serpentsare attacked by everyone, and must use creativity and wisdom to survive.

 

ii.Remaining harmless would keep them from giving in to the temptation ofretaliation.

 

iii.“The Christian missionary will need to be wary, to avoid receiving harm; but hemust be of a guileless mind, that he do no harm.” (Spurgeon)

 

c.But beware of men, for they will deliver you up:Jesus also warned them that men would persecute them in civic arena (councils) and religious arena (synagogues). They could expect oppositionfrom both city hall and the halls of religion.

 

d.You will be brought before governors and kingsfor My sake: This was a remarkable statement, recognizing the greatinfluence the gospel and its preachers would have. Governorsand kings would notice them – and arrest them, bringing themto trial.

 

i.“This affords a striking proof of the prescience ofChrist. Who could have thought, at that time, that these despisedand illiterate men could excite so muchattention, and be called upon to apologize for the profession of their faithbefore the tribunals of the most illustrious personages of the earth?” (Wakefield, cited in Clarke)

 

e.For My sake, as a testimony to them and to theGentiles: Because they were persecuted for Jesus sake, they could be a testimony to both religious and civicpersecutors.

 

i.“The specific mention of the Gentilessuggests that the wider mission of the post-resurrection period is already inview.” (France)

 

2.(19-20) When Jesus’ disciples are brought before rulers, God will defend andspeak for them.

 

“But when they deliveryou up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be givento you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but theSpirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

 

a.Do not worry about how or what you should speak:Jesus’ disciples could have perfect trust in God in that moment, knowing thatHe would speak through them even if they were unprepared.

 

i.“It was not the humiliation which early Christians dreaded, not even the cruelpain and the agony. But many of them feared that their own unskilfulness inwords and defence might injure rather than commend the truth. It is the promiseof God that when a man is on trial for his faith, the words will come to him.”(Barclay)

 

b.For it will be given to you in that hour what youshould speak: This gave them confidence that the Spirit of the Father would speak to andthrough them at the necessary moment, even if they were not prepared with astatement.

 

i.This isn’t a justification of poor preparation in teaching and preaching God’sWord, but it is a promise of strength and guidance for the persecuted that havean opportunity to testify of Jesus.

 

3.(21-23) The extent of persecution: even among families, and from city to city.

 

“Now brother willdeliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parentsand cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’ssake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you inthis city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gonethrough the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

 

a.Now brother will deliver up brother to death:Jesus knew that in some cases the gospel would divide family members, and thatsome of the most bitter persecution would take place among families.

 

b.And cause them to be put to death:Jesus plainly said that persecution would sometime result in death. Though most Christians have enduredpersecution in economic or social arenas, though the centuries, literallymillions have given their lives in faithfulness to Jesus.

 

c.You will be hated by all for My name’s sake:At times this has been true; when entire cultures have hatedthe followers of Jesus. It seems strange that people who live by the kingdomexpectations of Matthew 5-7 should be so greatly hated, but it is the sameparadox that inspired the world to condemn and crucify the only sinless manever to live.

 

i.It must be painfully admitted that there are times when Christians, because ofgreat unfaithfulness or false profession of faith, have been hated for good reason. Yet no one who isfilled with the presence of Jesus and lives like He did can be hated for goodreason.

 

d.But he who endures to the end will be saved:A commitment to endure to the end isrequired for those who will weather the storms of persecution. We who have facelittle real persecution have little understanding of just how difficult it isto endure under it.

 

i.“Why, if every man would be saved who began to follow Christ, who would bedamned? In such a country as this, the most of men have at least one religiousspasm in their lives.” (Spurgeon)

 

e.When they persecute you in this city, flee toanother: In this, Jesus taught His disciples that it was wrong forthem to court martyrdom. They were notto run towards persecution, or even remain if they had the chance for anhonorable escape. If they could flee to anotherplace they were to do it.

 

f.You will not have gone through the cities ofIsrael before the Son of Man comes: This is one of the hardest tounderstand statements of Jesus in Matthew. Could Jesus really mean that Hewould return to this earth before the disciples would make it through all thecities of Israel? If so, this would make Jesus’ plainly wrong in thisprediction. Instead, it is better to see His “coming” in this passage as His coming in judgment upon Judea in ad70 which did happen before the gospel came to every city in Israel.

 

i.This is the fulfillment of the day of judgment warned of in Matthew 10:15. In many ways, the judgment poured out byGod upon Judea through the Roman armies in ad70 was worse than the judgment that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

ii.“When they face persecution, they must take it as nor more than a signal forstrategic withdrawal to the next city where witness must continue, for the timeis short. They will not have finished evangelizing the cities of Israel beforethe Son of Man comes in judgment on Israel.” (Carson)

 

4.(24-25) Why Jesus’ disciples must expect persecution.

 

“A disciple is not abovehis teacher, nor a servantabove his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, anda servant like his master. If they have called the master of the houseBeelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!”

 

a.A disciple is not above his teacher:Simply put, the disciples should not expect to be treated any better than Jesus was treated. If they called Jesus HimselfSatan (Beelzebub), how much worseshould the disciples of Jesus expect!

 

i.This already is the second reference in Matthew we have to Jesus beingassociated with Satan by His enemies. “Matthew 9:34 suggests that it was afrequent slur.” (Carson)

 

ii.“Thank God, they may call us what theylike, but they cannot make us evil. . . . God was slandered in Paradise, andChrist on Calvary; how can we hope to escape?” (Spurgeon)

 

b.It is enough for a disciple that he be like histeacher, and a servant like his master: This is the goal of both thedisciple and servantof Jesus. We simply want to be likeour teacher and master, as we are conformed to the imageof His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

 

5.(26-31) Even in the midst of persecution, Jesus’ disciples should not fear, butbe bold in their proclamation of the gospel.

 

“Therefore do not fearthem. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden thatwill not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; andwhat you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those whokill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able todestroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a coppercoin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; youare of more value than many sparrows.”

 

a.Therefore do not fear them: Jesus’disciples could have confidence that the truth would prevail, so they should go out and preach it withboldness, despite the danger of persecution.

 

i.If persecution or the threat of persecution makes us draw back from speakingand preaching God’s word, then in some measure Satan has won a victory. Histhreat of persecution may not have succeeded in harming us, but in holding backthe work of the Word of God.

 

ii.“Fear not what cannot be avoided if you would be of any use. Fear suits not anapostle any more than a soldier or a sailor, who both take coolly the risks oftheir calling.” (Bruce)

 

b.For there is nothing covered that will not berevealed, and hidden that will not be known: Jesus promised Hispersecuted followers that the truth of their honorable sacrifice would beknown, even if the persecutors did their best to hide it among the pages ofhistory. God would reveal all and justify His servants and reveal the crime ofthose who thought they had hidden it.

 

i.The judgment of eternity gives us great confidence in God’s ultimate justice.Those who seem to cheat justice on earth will never cheat it in eternity.

 

c.Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in thelight; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops: Themessage of Jesus was gloriously public.It was not for a secret few and was not to be hidden in any way. There isn’tone message for the inner circle and another for those on the outside. Those onthe outside may not understand the message, but they can hear it and it is notto be hidden from them.

 

d.And do not fear those whokill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able todestroy both soul and body in hell: God is the one to fear, not the men who persecute the followersof Jesus. The worst they can do is to destroy the body, but being a cowardbefore God can have eternal consequences.

 

i.“There is no cure for the fear of man like the fear of God.” (Spurgeon)

 

ii.“Hence we find that the body and the soul aredistinct principles, for the body maybe slain and the soul escape; and,secondly, that the soul is immaterial, for the murderers of the body are notable, have it not in their power, to injure it.” (Clarke)

 

e.Do not fear therefore; you are of more value thanmany sparrows: Jesus’ disciples didn’t need to be afraid, becauseGod really did care for them, even down to the most minute detail. If God caresfor the sparrows, and numbers the veryhairs of our head, then He will also pay careful attention to our needs. Thepersecuted easily feel that God forgets them, but He has not.

 

i.God knows us better than our friends know us; better than our husband or wifeknows us; He knows us better than we know ourselves. We don’t know how manyhairs are numbered on our head. The God who knows us so well will take care ofus.

 

ii.The clear emphasis in this short section is clearly “donot fear.” “This is the third time, in six verses, that they and weare bid to banish this cowardly base passion, this causeless, fruitless,harmful, sinful fear of men. He that fears God need fear none else.” (Trapp)

 

6.(32-39) The attitude Jesus’ disciples must be equipped with.

 

“Therefore whoeverconfesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is inheaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Fatherwho is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did notcome to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against hisfather, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against hermother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother morethan Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me isnot worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is notworthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life forMy sake will find it.”

 

a.Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will alsoconfess before My Father who is in heaven: The disciple must confessJesus publiclybefore men. If we will not be public aboutour allegiance to Him, we cannot expect Him to be public about His allegianceto us.

 

i.Everyone Jesus called He called publicly. There is really no such thing as a“secret” Christian, at least not in a permanent sense. This is a contradictionin terms - an oxymoron.

 

ii.Each individual Christian life should supply enough evidence – evidencethat can be seen by the world – that they are indeed Christians. It is tobe feared than many modern Christians, if arrested for the crime of followingJesus and tried in a court, would have the charges dismissed for a lack ofevidence.

 

iii.“What Christ is to you on earth, that you will be to Christ in heaven. I shallrepeat that truth. Whatever Jesus Christ is to you on earth, you will be to himin the day of judgment. If he be dear and precious to you, you will be preciousand dear to him. If you thought everything of him, he will think everything ofyou.” (Spurgeon)

 

iv.Yet we dare not miss that Jesus here claimed that one’s eternal destinydepended upon their response to Him. “This‘egocentricity’ is a striking characteristic of the teaching of Jesus. ‘It iswithout parallel in the world of Jesus’ (Jeremias, NTT, pp. 250-255). Even more remarkably, the saying ispatterned on 1 Samuel 2:30, where the one honoured or despised is God himself.”(France)

 

b.Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.I did not come to bring peace but a sword: The message of Jesus– as reflected in the Sermon on the Mount – is indeed a message ofpeace. Yet since it calls the individual to a radical commitment to JesusHimself, it is a message of peace that divides between those who choose it and those who reject it. The divisionbetween these two choices explains how Jesus didnot come to bring peace but a sword.

 

c.For I have come to “set a man against his father”. . . and “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household”: The dividing line between those who acceptJesus and those who reject Him would even run through families. The sword Jesus spoke of would sometimes cutthrough families.

 

d.He who loves father ormother more than Me is not worthy of Me: In strong terms, Jesus explained that the disciple must love andfollow Jesus supremely. Our devotion to Jesus must come above even our own household.

 

i.We should expect that normally, following Jesus makes us better husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons, daughtersand so forth. Yet there are times when the presence of Jesus divides ratherthan unifies.

 

ii.The greatest danger of idolatry comes not from what is bad, but from what is good - like love in family relationships. The greatestdanger to the best comes from secondbest.

 

e.Take his cross and follow after Me:The disciple must follow Jesus even to the place of taking his cross. When a person took a cross inJesus’ day, it was for one reason: to die. The ancient Roman cross did notnegotiate, did not compromise, and did not make deals. There was no lookingback when you took up your cross, and your only hope was in resurrection life.

 

i.His cross: Your cross isn’t really your particular trial ortrouble. The cross means one thing: death- death to self, but resurrection life unto God.

 

ii.This is the first mention of the crossin Matthew’s Gospel, and it is not directly associated with Jesus’ owncrucifixion. Such an extreme statement – likening discipleship with thehorror of crucifixion, something too terrible to be mentioned in polite company– must have jarred the disciples.

 

iii.Yet they knew what the cross was allabout. “Crucifixion itself was not an uncommon sight in Roman Palestine;‘cross-bearing’ language would have a clear enough meaning, even before theyrealized how literally he himself was to exemplify it.” (France)

 

iv.“When the Roman general, Varus, had broken the revolt of Judas in Galilee [4 bc], he crucified two thousand Jews, andplaced the crosses by the wayside along the roads to Galilee.” (Barclay)

 

f.He who finds his life will lose it, and he wholoses his life for My sake will find it: The disciple lives in a paradox. He can only find life by losingit, and he can only live by dying. Resurrection life can only come after wetake up our cross to follow Jesus.

 

i.“Bearing the cross, we are follow afterJesus: to bear a cross without following Christ is a poor affair. A Christianwho shuns the cross is no Christian; but a crossbearer who does not followJesus equally misses the mark.” (Spurgeon)

 

7.(40-42) The reward due to those who, in contrast to the persecutors, receivethe disciples of Jesus.

 

“He who receives youreceives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives aprophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he whoreceives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive arighteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cupof cold water in the name ofa disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

 

a.He who receives youreceives Me: The gooddone to Jesus’ disciples is as if it were good done to Jesus Himself, becausethey are His representatives, carrying on His ministry.

 

b.He who receives a prophetin the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward: We can share in the reward of God’sservants by supporting them in their work. Even seemingly insignificant worksof kindness (a cup of cold water)performed for God’s people are meaningful in God’s eyes.

 

i.What could seem more insignificant than giving a person a cup of cold water? In a short time, they will bethirsty again. Yet even such a small gesture will always be remembered andrewarded by God. They shall by no means losetheir reward.

 

ii.“Of Midas it is fabled, that whatever he touched turned into gold. Sure it isthat whatsoever the hand of charity touch, be it but a cup of cold water, itturns the same, not into gold, but into heaven itself.” (Trapp)

 

iii.“Again it is not philanthropy which is in view, but reception of a disciple becausehe is a disciple (again literally ‘in thename of’).” (France) The promise is that those who are His disciples really dorepresent Him, with both the cost and the reward.

 

iv.“ ‘These little ones’ surely includes all the apostles, prophets, and righteousmen; they are all ‘little ones’ because they are all targets of the world’senmity.” (Carson)

 

© 2009 David Guzik - No distribution beyondpersonal use without permission