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Passage: Matthew 9-10

On Monday, October 14, 2019 (Last Updated on 10/14/2021), Yujin wrote,

Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matthew 10:40-42).

Jesus would teach this same principle in Matthew 25:31-46 when He speaks of the sheep and the goats, those who go to eternal life and those who go to eternal damnation. The disciples were Jesus's representatives on earth. They carried His mission and message, with the Holy Spirit speaking through them (Matthew 10:19-20). Those who received Jesus's disciples, who comforted them, fed and clothed them, visited them in prison, and tended to their needs, would be those who truly received Jesus Himself and would be rewarded accordingly. 

Jesus predicted the hardships and persecutions the disciples would face, and so He challenged them with these words. They were His representatives, carrying the message of eternal life for those who would receive them. When Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,’" He was talking about His disciples, both in the present and in the future, who would carry the Gospel message to the ends of the earth.

He was talking about you and I. When people reject us and our message, they are rejecting Christ and bringing eternal condemnation on themselves. On the other hand, those who receive us and our message are also receiving Christ and will be rewarded with eternal life. As we are fulfilling Jesus's Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), we are His ambassadors on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). 

Consequently, those who interpret Matthew 25:31-46 as a message of social justice will have missed the whole point. Jesus was not condemning people to eternal hell for not helping the poor or visiting prisoners or entertaining foreigners, as if the Gospel of forgiveness for sin was nothing more than a social gospel. No, Jesus was not identifying with the marginal and disenfranchised. He was identifying with His followers, particularly those disciples who would carry the Gospel of God's grace to the ends of the earth. These were His true representatives, so that whatever people did for these brothers and sisters of Jesus, they would be doing for Jesus.

Passage: Matthew 9-10

On Wednesday, October 14, 2015, Yujin wrote,

He 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. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:37-39).

Jesus announced to His disciples that they would suffer persecution, which would come at that them from both religious and secular authorities (Matthew 10:16-20) and even from within their own families (Matthew 10:21-22,34-36). While physical violence, betrayal, and murder will characterize those who persecute them (cf. Matthew 10:17,21,28), the disciples will stand out for their divinely-inspired and unwavering testimony (cf. Matthew 10:18,20,22,27,32).

So then, when we come to Matthew 10:37-39, Jesus was not telling his disciples to stop loving their families (cf. the even stronger language in Luke 14:26). He was telling them not to give in to family pressure to disown their faith. It is in the context of persecution from members of their own families, who would go so far as to betray them to death (Matthew 10:21), that Jesus says the disciples must choose whom they will love more. 

John Milton wrote Paradise Lost. In it he argued that Adam took the forbidden fruit from Eve because he loved her. The Bible does not tell us why Adam willfully disobeyed the command of God, but Milton's explanation is not without parallel. The wisest man the world has ever known did something similar:

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love (1 Kings 11:1-2).

Solomon destroyed a kingdom because he loved his wives more than God. Adam may have ruined the human race because he loved Eve more than God. 

Jesus taught His disciples that if they are confronted with the choice between their devotion to their families and their devotion to Christ, they must choose Christ. 

Friends, we love our spouses. And we love our children. Yet, they are not the priority of our lives. The Lord is. This is the psalmist's cry:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

The psalmist declares that God is His only desire. You may ask, didn't Asaph have a wife. Didn't he have children? Did he not have any affection for them? I'm sure he did. But his affection for the LORD was so much greater that in comparison his affection for his family seemed like nothing. 

Remember how Abraham's faith was tested. God told him to sacrifice his own son. It's one thing to love God more, but to put one's own child, even the child of one's old age, to death? It is this faith of Abraham that we are called to mimic. Yet, in Jesus, the disciples were not called to do violence. To the contrary, they were called to stand fast in their faith when violence, even from their own families, came against them. 

Friends, let us take this to heart. Jesus taught, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). Could we not also say, "Where your time is, there your heart will be also"? Or how about, "Where your effort is, there your heart will be also"? If the bulk of our treasure, time and effort are in something or someone other than the Lord, would we remain steadfast to the Lord if we were ever challenged to choose?

What I have discovered is that when I prioritize the Lord, then I most bless my wife and my child. When I prioritize my wife, I most bless my child. This is God's biblical order of priorities, which we would do well to follow. 

Passage: Matthew 9-10

On Monday, October 14, 2013, Yujin wrote,

Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops (Matthew 10:26-27).

Jesus tells His disciples not to fear those that would persecute and kill them on account of their testimony of Jesus Christ. The true character of every deed will be exposed before the Lord. This is what we learn from Hebrews 4:12-13,

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

In other words, everything will be revealed and judged based on the litmus of God's Word. Thus, Jesus, who spoke God's words, declared,

If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day (John 12:47-48).

Thus, Jesus was telling His disciples not to fear their present distress at the hands of men because the truly fearful thing was to be judged by God. So He continues in Matthew 10,

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:28-31).

There is a dual perspective Jesus gives in these words. First He says that the One who destroys the soul in hell is more to be feared than those who destroy the body here on earth. Second, whatever you experience on earth, to the very last hair of your head, is both known and under the control of your heavenly Father. 

Friends, these are remarkable truths. God is both the most scary if He is against you but also the most comforting when He is for you. God's knowledge, power and decisions make the schemings and violence of men as nothing. This is the reason Paul can write,

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

Hallelujah! If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, it should not matter what you experience in this life. There is an incomparably greater glory that awaits you. Sometimes, perhaps even daily, we need this dose of perspective to keep us hoping and working hard for the Lord.

Passage: Matthew 9-10

On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, Bill wrote,

Christ continually ministers to the broken of the world - the sick, poor, and even criminals to the annoyance of the Jewish elite (Pharisees).

"As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw his, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matt 9:9-12)

Matthew of course was one of the apostles and the author of this book, but he was also a tax collector. There are several key messages I take from this section and passage. Firstly, that Christ has compassion on the broken of this world - those spiritually and physically sick. Christ even warns those that don’t love (care for) the broken of the world never 'knew' Him and will be cast aside in judgment (Matt 25:40-44).

Another great message from this passage is redemption. Matthew the tax collector would have been a pariah amongst his people, an outcast - tax collectors were known to be unscrupulous and employed by the hated Romans. Christ shows compassion even a to a reviled tax collector, and chooses him as one of the great Apostles to carry the message of the Gospel to all the world. This is a powerful message for us, that God has redeemed us 'all' through Christ and no matter our past we can be used by God to a great purpose.

Lastly, one of the Truths of the bible is that those most desperate seem to have the greatest faith. This is so true today. So many times people come to God as the last straw when they are completely desperate, all other options exhausted, and cry out making pacts with a God they haven't talked to in years, if ever. Never a sinner, agnostic or atheist that hasn't or wouldn’t cry to God at the edge of death…. sadly, they never took the time to find God when all was well.

I pray this for all that do not know Christ or who do not serve Him - our time on this world is short, before we are desperate for God get to know Him.

Passage: Matthew 9-10

On Saturday, October 15, 2011, Fernando wrote,
Matthew 9
5For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? 6But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he then said to the paralytic—"Rise, pick up your bed and go home."
I have encountered people that claim to prophesy and do miracles, at least they claim to have their prayers regularly answered, but I don't receive the message from them that it is a moment to praise God but to rather to recognize their involvement in the process - in other words, a miracle worker.
The first step I take in evaluating a 'prophet' is to gauge whether what they say is unbiblical. I have rarely encountered in person one who is unbiblical. The next step is to verify if the event happened: Deuteronomy 18
21And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?'— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him."

The challenge I have encountered is, what if they give a 'fortune cookie' prophecy- a Delphi prophecy- Something that sounds like a spiritual motivational speaker rather than a 'quantifiable' event?
Something like: "there has been a burden following you for years, but know that the lord has called this season in your life an end. The struggle at work will bring fruit and you shall see what milk and honey Israel had!"

No dates or time line, nothing concrete, no specifics. What then? The next step is to compare it to the Lords character, his modus operandi. "If it can be explained it probably wasn't God" -forget who I heard this from- but here Jesus gives a clear example of his authority: "which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?" Well its easy to say something uplifting, but why should we believe you 'prophet' (audience to Jesus)

"6But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority..." The man then walks.
I feel that this could lead one to be manipulated as in 'if you don't believe what I say it is your lack in faith.'

But this is the opposite of what is shown in Deuteronomy 18. In fact God expects us, anticipates that we will react like this: 21And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?'

Because after all, "19 whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him."

And we need to know who actually has authority, so we can put our faith in God and not on fear of "what if this is from God?" When God moves it is in full authority. The lame walk and the dead rise.

Though to not draw the point too far, we should not be 'sign seekers.' A seeking heart will respond, and unbeliever's heart will continue to insist on signs even when signs are given. As the Pharisees continually did.

Passage: Matthew 9-10

On Friday, October 14, 2011, Unmi wrote,
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. 
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

I have seen some Islamic websites use this verse to "prove" that Jesus was preaching "Jihad." They say that Christianity is no different than Islam, promoting violence to spread their religion.

But let us examine the context of this verse in chapter 10. In verses 1-4, the twelve disciples are introduced and in verses 5-15, Jesus gives them instructions of where to go, what to do, how to do it. In verses 16-32, Jesus tells them about the persecution they will encounter as"sheep among wolves." The disciples will suffer violence against them. They will be flogged (Matthew 10:17), arrested (Matt 10:19), betrayed (Matt 10:21), hated to the point of death (Matt 10:22).  In the face of this persecution, are the disciples to wield their sword? Jesus actually tells them not to even take a staff (Matt 10:10) He says "do not worry" (Matt 10:19),"stand firm" (Matt 10:22), "do not be afraid" (Matthew 10:26,28,31), "acknowledge me" (Matt 10:32). 

It is in this setting that Jesus says:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father,  a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ (Matt 10:34-36)

Understanding the setting and instructions of the preceding verses, this sword is NOT a physical sword against flesh and blood, but a spiritual sword of division. A sword that will divide family members apart among those who follow Jesus and those who won't, those who repent and those who don't, those who are saved and those who aren't. 

Reading the correlating verse in the Book of Luke gives a clearer picture:
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. (Luke 12:51)

Acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for the believer, but will result in hated by the world. This hatred will cause division among nations, among communities, among friends and even among family members. The violence comes not because we have a sword in our hand, but because they will hate us to the point of death. Isn't this the reality that Christian believers in Muslim nations face everyday?  Who are the ones holding the sword?

There is only one "sword" that all believers are to have in his arsenal. Paul tells us to "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:11-12) Since this is a spiritual battle, we must carry the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:17

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

 The word of God is the sword that we all MUST carry to protect ourselves against the spiritual forces that come against us daily.

Passage: Matthew 9-10

On Friday, October 15, 2010, Yujin wrote,

One of you privately asked me this question about Matthew 10:23,

"When 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."

Is he saying this about his second return? I have always heard that the whole world is to hear THEN he comes...?

Here is my response:

This is a difficult verse with many different interpretations. I'm so glad you asked about it. The parallels are in Luke 21 and Mark 13. The difficulty in all of these passages is that there seems to be both immediate application and future prediction. This is clearly true of many Old Testament passages, where prophecy has both a present and future ("now and not yet") application. There's some part of the prophecy that relates to the present or near-term experience, but another part of the prophecy that has an eschatological ("end times") application. An example of this would be Daniel 9:26, which points to both the first and second coming of Jesus. Could something similar be happening in Matthew 10:23?

I have not read this in any commentary, but this is my sense from my reading of the context. In the immediate context Jesus is telling his disciples how much they would suffer in the preaching of the message of Christ. Some of them will even be put to death. And the sense is that many will not only disbelieve, but they will also be hostile to the faith. The disciples will have to flee even before providing a complete witness in any town. So perhaps Jesus is saying that the disciples will not fulfill the mission before Jesus comes again. In other words, people will still be in rebellion against the Gospel, even to the time of the end, when Jesus will return. This is consistent with the testimony of the Book of Revelation, where even after the outpouring of God's judgments, the people "still did not repent" (cf. Rev. 9:20-21). Isn't this also the impression we get from Jesus words in Luke 18:8, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" The answer to this rhetorical question is "No." Therefore, the meaning of this verse is that the disciples will not complete their mission before Jesus comes. In fact, even the disciples of Christ today will not complete our mission before Jesus comes. Therefore, it is not so much that the whole world will hear before Jesus comes but perhaps just the opposite. The whole world will not hear, or at least not be believing, when Jesus comes again.