I would like to look at Matthew 10. We use this scripture and Luke 10 in discipleship and house church trainings. What I find as I look at the whole chapter, is that the key to the first 15 verses and the power that is there comes from the last 27 verses and our understanding and willingness to walk them. As you look at the beginning of this chapter it is evident that Jesus had some specific instructions for the disciples as they are sent out in power. Later in the chapter He tells them a few specific things that will happen as a result of them going out.
First, (v. 16-26) you will be seen and persecution will be a normal part of Life. Who will persecute you? People in synagogues, brothers, children, parents, all men and city leaders will come against you. When all this happens we are to trust the Spirit for what we are to say. We are told to move to other cities also when the trouble comes, we are not told to fight the persecution or demand our rights.
Next, (v. 27-31) The Lord tells us to “speak what I tell you”. Then we are told not to fear those who kill the body. He is reiterating that persecution that could result in death is normal Christianity. Our only fear should be the Father, as He can send us to hell. He also says that He knows every hair on our heads and that He is on top of all that happens. Somehow persecution fits as a part of His will.
Then, (v. 32-33) lets us know again that if we don’t stand for him, regardless of what happens as a result of standing for Him, He will not stand up for us with the Father. Now that is scary!
Finally, (v. 34-39), we come to the place where He tells us that He did not come to bring peace but, a sword. Sword is identified as being the Word (Ephesians 6:17). John 14:6 says Jesus is the truth and John 17:17 says that the Word is truth. Truth will separate us from those we Love according to these scriptures. We are to put Jesus first and obey Him even if we are separated from our family. If we love them more than Jesus we are unworthy of Him. Compromising the obedience to Him to keep our family together will cause us to lose what we hope to save, obedience to carry our cross will bring us to life.
The last (v. 40-42) gives us some encouragement for those who help us in the midst of our being persecuted, but it does not change what was spoken to us. For them, they will not lose their reward. This is also our reward, their souls, their lives presented to Jesus. In these last words He is telling us that our sharing and our sacrifice will see people being saved.
In the countries that are seeing a Christian movement that we have visited, we find a willingness and even an eagerness to accept the truth of the whole chapter. I will make some further comments interspaced in the text of the chapter. My comments will appear in bold text following the scripture I comment on.
(All scriptures quoted in this article are taken from the New King James Version.)
Matt 10:1-42 1And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 2Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. An interesting thing here is that Judas Iscariot is given power even though he will betray Jesus. Jesus gave him the same anointing He gave the rest of the disciples.
5These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Lost is lost but Jesus has a specific plan and we need to obey His voice, not what we think we should do. 7And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. They are to do exactly what He has been doing and will continue to do. Preach the kingdom of God is at hand, heal, and cast out demons. If the Gospel has no power, it is still the Gospel? Freely you have received, freely give. 9Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. What we receive we are not to hoard, but we are to give it to others. If we are sent and traveling to places to take His presence and power, we are not to work for money but for His Kingdom. We cannot forget Paul’s example of working but, it does not apply to everyone. Here Jesus says that the workers are worthy of support. These two examples show us that we need to hear and obey specificly for our lives.
11″Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. When we go into a city or want to take a city we tend to pray over the whole city and focus on what controls the whole. Here he says go to “A” worthy person. 12And when you go into a household, greet it. 13If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. If you are received let peace be left, if not, don’t worry about what or if you did enough, shake off what happened and continue by going somewhere else. We tend to want to spend our whole lives with one set of people, trying to convince people with our lives over a period of time. Jesus did not say to do that, we are to go preach, heal, deliver, and if that is not received, leave. Don’t carry the weight of their reluctance to receive and don’t forget that these who were sent out as our example only went for a month or two. We tend to stay beyond what the example shows and to do more than what Jesus says to do. 15Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! Our reason for staying is because we don’t want to give up, and we feel sorry for those who don’t receive. We are afraid we did not do it right so we tend to be unwilling to see that this is not our job. We are to present the real Gospel and its power, not to take responsibility for what is God’s.
Usually we stop here when teaching about church planting and don’t look at the rest of the chapter. In some persecuted places it is not necessary to go on because they know this part, but, we (in the west) need to look at what Jesus says will be the outcome of going and what will happen as we go. we need to realize that this is for us also, not just others.
This next portion of the chapter and our reaction to it is one of the reasons we don’t see what we want to see in the West. We have not accepted these sayings as being a part of grace that we are told to embrace. These following verses are as much a part of a move of God are the ones we have already read. If we want to walk in the power and presence of Jesus and be a disciple, then we must embrace the results of our obedience. It has not changed, and according to the Word, it will get worse as we get closer to the end.
16″Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. We are sent out defenseless into the wolves territory, wolves are one of the fiercest killers among predators. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We should not be without wisdom, but must be harmless, not forceful or vengeful. 17But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. Men will deliver you to authorities, and in their religious houses they will beat you. Jesus does not say maybe this will happen, He says it will happen. He is telling us that persecution will be normal, be ready for it. 18You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. He is not talking about church, but the workplace and the secular world, people in authority and just plain people. Many times we don’t speak in public places, government places or at work because we fear being mocked, left out, or laughed at, maybe we could lose our jobs. It is evident that we are to speak about Jesus because we are brought to these places for His sake. We are just not to worry about what we will say about the Gospel and Jesus. The Spirit of our Father will bring the words to testify with.
21″Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. Looks like our family may become a problem as we obey the Lord. It actually says they “will”. 22And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. He does not say maybe you will be hated, again it is “will be”. We, in the West, tend to think that only happens when we are not presenting the Gospel right, not being politically correct in our presentation. But he who endures to the end will be saved. Endures what? It does not say He who escapes or hides his faith but he who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. Don’t fight persecution, and “when” not “if” it comes then flee and share in another place. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. Looks like we are just to go and “when” persecution comes we just go to another city. It looks like it will happen in every city eventually according to this scripture.
24″A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Whatever they did to Jesus, they will do to us. We will also be accused of being of the devil or the enemy. 26Therefore do not fear them. This will happen and we are not to fear those who say these things. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Eventually the truth will be seen.
27″Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. Even though all this persecution is happening we are to speak whatever He tells us to say and what we hear we are to shout in places we visibly stand out. 28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. We are not to fear being killed but fear Him who is able to destroy all in hell. That goes back to verse 22. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father”s will. Could He be saying that none of this can happen without Father”s approval? Is he saying, that this persecution is necessary and that suffering is part of His will? 30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. The Father knows everything and again we are not to fear but, we must endure and go recognizing our value to His Kingdom and plan.
32″Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. This really re-emphasizes our need to share or confess Jesus before men, verse 22 and 28.
34″Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. We are not to mistake Jesus’ goal. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and the Word is the truth so; Jesus came to bring the Truth — regardless of the consequences or its effect. 35For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ I don’t think that we want to receive this. We would rather compromise our stand for Him than have our family be our enemy. It is a very hard word. In persecuted countries, when people receive Jesus they expect to be thrown out or persecuted in some way, maybe killed and still they will tell family that they have received Jesus. Why are we not willing to do this? What have we missed or not understood? Our democracy type thinking says that majority rules, so if we all agree that this is not true, then God will not judge us for not believing He meant what He said. 37He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. We say, family first, Jesus would never do anything that would separate me from my family, He is the God of Love. That is not what He said. 39He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. What we want will only happen when we are willing to let them go and put Jesus first regardless of what we see happen. We have to trust Him with our family and obey.
40″He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” This is the reward section and the reason we must be willing to suffer and even die. Whoever receives us, receives Him! They will not lose their reward even if they only give us a cup of water. The end of it all is that People will get saved though our sacrifice! Their salvation is our reward. That is what makes it worthwhile, all the suffering and loss, family gone, friends gone, hated, beaten, cast out of cities and churches. How much is their salvation worth? What cost is Jesus willing to pay, I think He laid that out in this chapter.
Maybe if we in the West could embrace the love that is involved in this chapter for the lost and listen to Jesus’ heart as He lays out His plan and goal of reaching the world, we would see what we are looking for, Jesus’ presence! Grace and power received must be given away… no excuses, no compromises and no conditions, just surrender and obedience to love.