Matthew Chapter ★10: Are you sure you want to be a Jesus Follower? Remember what team you’re on!
I read this chapter a couple of times before committing to it. Interestingly, this last time I am sitting down to read it over is astoundingly more revealing and digestible than the previous two times. The previous two time were on the go, at the beach, and in the car. They were difficult and almost painful. Jesus seemed to be preaching violence, racism, fascism and intolerance! It was one of those John 6:68 moments where Jesus says “Are you going to leave me too?”
This time I am surprised (but very relieved) to find this message is sewn down with such love and care! Of course the center of my poor uptake was based on bad context. In my distracted state I had totally overlooked the context and lost the understanding of the chapter! I’m so excited about the message now that I just don’t have the patience to go through my usual study method. So I’m going to take my notes directly onto my blog. (I usually double take my notes, first on paper in key words, then second online in elaboration.)
The first 3 star points are the most important for understanding the context.
★10:1-5These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. This section really puts things in context for the rest of the chapter! The rest of Jesus’ instruction from this point on is primarily directed at Israel. It’s important to understand that. Jesus addresses Israelites saying the 7‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ As in to say; Remember God? The one who brought you out of Egypt and made you a kingdom nation, who loved you and gave you everything, he fought for you in battle. You rejected him so you were exiled but he promised that he would send someone to save you and restore his true kingdom? I know your kinda lost from all the bad direction the pharisees have been giving you but God keeps his promises and he still want you in his kingdom and that’s happening now! So better jump on board! Jesus is making sure all of Israel has one last chance to respond to the Gospel before he bursts open the gates to the whole world!
★10:8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,b cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Why such a crazy job description? Well, anyone could go around just proclaiming the kingdom is here (as did John the baptizer) so how are we to know if they’re really telling the truth, how are we to know if they’re truly God’s messengers? Signs & wonders! Historically Israel identifies God given authority by signs and wonders (1 Cor 1:22) and Jesus was going to make sure they had no excuses for not believing the authority of the disciples.
★10:9Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10no bag for your journey, nor two tunicsc nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. Well that’s weird! Why doesn’t Jesus want them taking anything? Is it because he want them to toughen up? Maybe he’s trying to “force them to grow” in faith? I don’t really want to be so bold to say no, but… I don’t think so! To me this sounds a lot more like the strategic endeavors of Paul toward the Corinthians in 2 Cor 9 who explains how he has the rite to earn a living (money) from the gospel however he chose not to earn any money when he was ministering (at least to the Corinthians). Why? Because he wanted to ensure that the relationship between the Corinthians and himself was not a employee, client based relationship. Ei ‘You do what we tell you to do, say what we tell you to say, and we’ll give you money, maybe even a bonus if you make us very satisfied!’. Paul did not want anyone to think he preached for money, otherwise those listening may have thought ‘If we stop paying, he’ll stop preaching’. This situation is very easy to understand now days because of our imperfect “church service” structure. Simply, the pastor organizes the “church” program and the people pay for it in tithe. If the pastor screws up, the people stop paying, so therefore the pastor does everything to keep the people happy – even disobey his true calling from God. Big oops!
Jesus is instructs the disciples in a way that will force them to depend only on faith, however that was probably not the primary reason why he asked them to go unpaid. I would submit that the primary reason was to avoid a benefices/beneficiary relationship with the people they were preaching to.
★10:11And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. At first I was quite thrown off by the use of the word worthy. Is this implying the dreaded respecting of persons type partiality as mentioned in James 2:9? Haha, no silly! Thanks to old commentaries for putting things into perspective. Jesus is simply implying that they should choose someone who has the capacity to entertain with hospitality. He could have just as well said in more current terms “don’t mooch off people who don’t have the capacity to keep you.” Then he says “If you find a house that looks suitable to stay in, greet the owners happily. If the owners don’t want to have you, just as happily leave. If everyone in the town is just as reluctant and if no-one wants to hear the Gospel, then leave the town. They have chosen their path, it’s a path of destruction and very bitter despair, even worse than those of Sodom and Gomorrah. However; you tried, it is no skin of your back, so hurry on to the next one without looking back.
This is one place where understanding context is so important. If we were to apply this method to our evangelism today, we would probably find very little fruit! We (most likely) aren’t offering the kind of authoritative signs and wonders given to the 12 as a authority stamp for the Jews and we (most likely) are not preaching to unreached Israelites (that is to say that there are few if not zero Jews that haven’t heard about Jesus today).
★10:16“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. This part is a lot easier to understand because the context is a little closer to home. “I am sending you out in the midst of wolves…Beware of men they will deliver over to courts and flog you (even in the church)… you will even be forced to testify to the gentiles“. This is something that most Christians can relate to on a self experience level! I believe that Jesus’ personification of wolves contributes to the universal context of this passage. This may have been spoken directly to the 12 concerning their mission at hand however the principal easily carries over because the enemy’s are not just bad Jews, they’re personified wolves, and personified wolves can be found in every ethnicity. And just in-case we are left wondering if we gentiles are left out of this passage Jesus clearly mentions the Gentiles in verse 18.
Well that’s great… now a totally terrifying and paralyzing verse has been put into context to ensure that it applies to us… Fantastic, how does this verse help us?
★10:19When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servantd above his master. 25It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they maligne those of his household. Jesus reminds us not to think that more righteous or more worthy than him to escape the bad treatment he received. He seems to be in the mood for promising disaster! What hope do we have? Read on.
★10:26“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.f 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?g And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. REMEMBER WHAT TEAM YOUR ON! That’s what we need to hear! Team God where nothing happens outside of his all knowing will.This is my favourite part of this chapter! After all that persecution, maligning and everything else bad it is good to know that we should Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father.
✪ There is one condition and one hope for a successful mission, be on God’s team! God is the captain, he is the coach, he plans the moves and he executes the mighty blow! We are on the winning team so there is no fear for us. The only fear we can have is getting off side with God. The only legitimate fear is standing in opposition to God and that is an extreme fear, and a good one to have!
★10:34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Jesus does a little bit of myth busting. The Prince of Peace is not the prince of ying and yang, or the prince of “i don’t care, as long as no-one gets hurt”, or the prince of “can’t everyone just get along”. He is the Prince of Righteousness and he stands for justice with an immovable stance. When it comes to justice, he will not budge, and there is no greater injustice than downplaying the word of God: Revealed in Jesus Christ, permitted by his propitiating sacrifice.
★10:40“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” I thought about not commenting on this last part of the chapter, because quite frankly, I don’t really understand how it fits in with the rest of the chapter, but it’s a good word so I want to note something here:
Rewards. Yes justified rewards exist. There is no daycare style rule in heaven that states that “no person should receive more or less than anybody else” in order to avoid making others feel less special. Jesus unabashedly proclaims this throughout the four epistles, no questions (don’t worry, this doesn’t effect anybody’s salvation (admittance to heaven) nor does it mean that you will be sad in heaven, the concept is self refuting). The encouraging part of this verse is that every deed is noticed by God! From the glamorous honor of entertaining prophets, even to the humble effort of fixing a drink for a little impressionable kid.