And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward."
rejected the messengers of Christ they were to shake off the very dust of their feet as a testimony against the inhospitable people; and now he concludes his address by cheering words on the other side, generously recognizing a friendly reception of his disciples. Local and temporal as was the immediate occasion of our Lord's remarks, they are evidently of lasting application.
I. THE BROTHERHOOD OF CHRIST LEADS HIM TO REGARD KINDNESS TO HIS DISCIPLES EXACTLY AS THOUGH IT WERE OFFERED TO HIMSELF. He is not the Oriental monarch treating his subjects as a race of slaves. He is completely one with his people. Whatever hurts them hurts him; whatever cheers them pleases him. There is a Christian solidarity. The benefit or injury of one member affects the whole body (1 Corinthians 12:26). But if other members of the body are thus affected, much more will the Head, which is in direct communication with the whole, be affected.
1. This is meant as a great encouragement for the servants of Christ. They are not deserted by Christ; he is in all their work, and he feels keenly every kindness or unkindness offered to them.
2. This suggests how we may all have the unspeakable privilege of receiving Christ. Not only a prophet or an apostle, but a little child, may bring Christ to our home. Receiving the least of Christ's disciples for his sake, we receive him.
II. THE CONDITION OF RECEIVING CHRIST IS RECEIVING HIS DISCIPLES IN HIS NAME.
1. Receiving Christ's disciples. He does not speak here of indiscriminate hospitality, nor of the neighbourly love which he elsewhere commends. Here is a specially Christian action. Much is made in the New Testament of brotherly love - love to fellow-Christians. It is a great privilege to be able to help one of Christ's own little ones.
2. Receiving them in Christ's Name. Thrice does our Lord refer to the conditions of "the name" - "the name of a prophet," "the name of a righteous man," "the name of a disciple." This points to a set purpose in the hospitality. The prophet is received as a prophet because we wish to honour prophets; the righteous man as a righteous man because we desire to help the righteous; the Christian disciple as a disciple, for Christ's sake. This is more than mere kindness; it is a distinct recognition of the claim of Christ. We are encouraged to show kindness for Christ's sake, that we may please him - receiving the envoy for the sake of the King.
III. THEY WHO THUS RECEIVE CHRIST'S DISCIPLES ARE DOUBLY REWARDED.
1. In receiving, Christ. They are treated just as though they had shown hospitality to the Lord Jesus Christ himself. But the reward of such hospitality is in the very coming of Christ. When he entered the house of Zacchaeus salvation came there. To have Christ within us is to have a better blessing than could be got out of all the wealth of the Indies or all the joy of a Christless paradise.
2. In receiving God. This thought is nearly akin to the teaching of the Fourth Gospel (see John 14:9, 10). We do not merely receive Christ as a brother-man. Beneath the veil of the humanity of Jesus the very glory of God enters the soul. Thus he who receives a child lop Christ's sake is blessed by having God in his heart, and then his heart becomes a heaven. - W.F.A.
A cup of cold water.
I. THE DUTY OF ACTING FROM CHRISTIAN MOTIVES.
1. Our Saviour points out this by three examples.
2. The duty derives its importance from God's omnipresence and omniscience. The cup of cold water comes under the Divine notice.
II. THE INFLUENCE OF OUR ACTIONS UPON THE DESTINIES OF THE FUTURE.
1. The history of nations and individuals proves how the past acts upon the future.
2. The promise of reward by Christ shows how every simple act done with reference to Himself is made to react upon ourselves in a way we should not anticipate apart from revelation.
3. Things done out of Christ, having no connection with His love, will perish.
(W. D. Horwood.)I. THE OBJECTS OF COMPASSIONATE REGARD ALLUDED TO.
1. In their inherent depravity and their solemn destiny as intended for a state of unending being.
2. In their natural condition of helplessness and weakness amid the circumstances of peril to which they are exposed in their progress through the world.
3. In their influence for good or evil upon the world, and the final account they shall give at the bar of God.
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE WHO, UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIAN MOTIVES, SHALL MAKE THE YOUNG THE OBJECTS OF THEIR DEVOTED CARE.
1. They shall have their reward in the lovely and appropriate fruits with which the objects of their compassionate regard shall be adorned.
2. In the beneficial influence they shall thus originate and perpetuate.
3. In the approbation of their Saviour and their God.
(H. Madgin.)1. Because they often have great results. A cup of cold water is mentioned here; we can hardly mention a service which one would more naturally think of as a little service, than the giving of a cup of cold water; and yet it may be great in its results. It may allay the fever, and drive away the coming madness of the man who is consumed by thirst — there may be life in a cup of cold water. The fainting traveller in the desert, where the greedy sun has licked all the water up, would die but for the cup of cold water which a provident pilgrim brings to him. Many a castaway on the ocean, drifting on his raft — many a wounded soldier, writhing among the heaps of the smitten on the battle-field — has spent his last breath in crying for a cup of cold water; and a cup of water given at a critical moment would have saved life.
2. When they are the best a man can render.
3. When they are truly rendered to Him. The giving of the cup of cold water, you observe, acquired its character of moral worth from its being given "in the name of a disciple" — given for Christ's sake. It is possible to work in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and not serve Christ at all. A soldier may go out in his country's wars, and make for himself, by his courage and success, an imperishable name, and yet never really serve his country or his king, but only himself; his one impulse throughout may be not loyalty, not patriotism, but the desire of fame, the desire of power, a motive which never takes the man out of himself.
(A Hannay.)1. Slight services are often all we have it in our power to render. What can I do for Christ?
2. Slight services are sufficient to show love for the Saviour.
3. Slight services, after all, may be invaluable services — trivial — "cup of cold water."
4. Slight services shall be richly requited — "He shall in no wise lose his reward."
(J. Gage Rigg, B. A,)Thy necessity is greater than mine." It is well-known that in Western Australia there is a great want of water, the rivers in that part of the island-continent being few. Mrs. Millett, in her "Life in an Australian Parsonage," describes the feeling of distress, approaching to despair, experienced by a mother and her child who had missed their way in a remote part of the colony, and who had the dreary prospect, as night came on, of being many hours before they could hope to assuage their thirst; and. their astonishment and delight, when, in that remote region, they saw, suddenly emerging from the trees, a woman and a girl each carrying a bucket. "Perhaps," says Mrs. Millett, "my friend mentally compared the incident to that of all angel's visit, when the strangers showed her a spring at no great distance, whither they were already on their way to fetch water, having already walked two miles from their own home." We ourselves remember with pleasure a hot summer evening many years ago, when, tired with a long walk in the neighbourhood of Heidelberg, we asked the mistress of a picturesque German cottage for a glass of water. Readily was it brought, and the peasant-woman, on our thanking her, replied in a tone of true courtesy, "Masser haben wir genug." — "We have sufficient water." But, as Jeremy Taylor says, he will have no reward, who gives only water, when his neighbour needs wine or a cordial, and he could give it.
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