“Following Emmanuel Part 2” – Matthew 10:32-42

August 23rd, 2015

Matthew 10:32-42

“Following Emmanuel Pt 2”


Service Orientation: Jesus explains the far-reaching ramifications of our commitment to Jesus.  It is all or nothing.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Matthew 10:37-38


Background Information:

  • (v. 32) Confess (NIV = “acknowledge”) means to affirm and agree with. It is not simply to recognize a truth but to identify with it.  Even the demons, for example, recognize that God is one (Jam 2:19), but they by no means confess God, because they are His implacable enemies.  We do not confess Christ simply by acknowledging that He is Lord and Savior but by acknowledging and receiving Him as our Lord and Savior.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 227)
  • (v. 33) The tense of the verb “deny” refers not to one moment of denial, as with Peter, but denial by the life in its entirety. (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 61)
  • (v. 34) That it is contrary to prevailing opinion is indicated by the opening words, “Do not think that…” cf. 3:9; 5:17; Jn 5:45. What Jesus says here causes the one who hears or reads it to startle in shocked disbelief.  The natural reaction to the surprising statement would be:  “How can this saying be true?  Is not Christ “the Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6)?  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 474)
  • (v. 34) As many Jews in Jesus’ day thought the coming of Messiah would bring them political peace and material prosperity, so today many in the church think that Jesus’ presence will bring them a kind of tranquility. But Jesus insisted that his mission entailed strife and division (v. 34).  Prince of Peace though he is, the world will so violently reject him and his reign that men and women will divide over him (vv. 35-36); cf. Lk 12:49-53).  Before the consummation of the kingdom, even the peace Jesus bequeaths his disciples will have its setting in the midst of a hostile world (Jn 14:27; 16:33; cf. Jam 4:4).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 256-7)
  • (v. 35) In the ancient rabbinical writings we find a paraphrase of that passage, which indicates clearly that they recognized the messianic age would involve conflict even within the family: “In the period when the Son of David shall come, daughter will rise up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. The son despises his father, the daughter rebels against the mother, the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies are they of his own household.”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 230-1)
  • (v. 38) Only a few years before Jesus spoke those words, a zealot named Judas had gathered together a band of rebels to fight the Roman occupation forces. The insurrection was easily quelled, and in order to teach the Jews a lesson, the Roman general Rarus ordered the crucifixion of over 2,000 Jews.  Their crosses lined the roads of Galilee from one end to the other.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 233)
  • (v. 39) Verse 39 is the most frequently recorded saying of Jesus in the NT. It is found six times in the Gospels (cf. Mt 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24; 17:33; Jn 12:25).  If a person seeks to preserve his own life he will lose it, but if for the sake of Christ he lets it go he will find it.  That self-seeking is self-defeating (Filson, 134) is the central paradox of Christian living.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 99)
  • (vss. 40-42) Again we are reminded that the Apostles were vested with Jesus’ own authority, such that those who received them and believed their message were receiving Christ Himself. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 332)


The question to be answered is . . . What is Jesus telling us here at the end of his teaching about being His ambassadors?


Answer:  That faithfulness to Him is an all or nothing proposition having far-reaching implications.   


Did you ever think what an extraordinary position it is for the son of a carpenter in Nazareth to plant Himself before the human race and say, “You will be wise if you die for My sake, and you will be doing nothing more than your plain duty”?  What business has He to assume such a position as that?  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 106)


Once the word spreads that your church stands for something, that it is wholeheartedly committed to something special and that people can be a part of it, those with whom the vision resonates will come running.  (George Barna; Turning Vision into Action, 151)


The Word for the Day is . . . Commitment


What kinds of far-reaching implications for Jesus’ ambassadors is Jesus promoting in this section of His teaching?:

I-  Committed acknowledgment (or saving faith) in Jesus is the only way by which you have a relationship with God and avoid condemnation.  (Mt 10:32-33; see also: Mk 8:34-38; Lk 10:16; 20:18; Jn 3:16-21; 6:32-39; 7:28-29; 8:12-59; 9:5; 10:1-39; 11:25; 12:25-26, 44-45; 13:20; 14:1-14, 20; 15:1-17; 18:38; Acts 4:12; Rom 3:21-26; 6:23; 10:9-10; 2 Cor 5:17-21; 1 Tm 2:5; 1 Jn 2:1)


The disciple who attempts to avoid persecution by public denial of Jesus reveals that he is not a true disciple and has not publicly confessed Jesus as his Master and God.  Such denial results in eternal rejection by the Father.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 396)


A necessary criterion for being a disciple of Jesus is to acknowledge him publicly (cf. Rom 1:16; 10:9).  This will vary in boldness, fluency, wisdom, sensitivity, and frequency from believer to believer (cf. Calvin); but consistently to disown Christ (same verb as in 26:69-75) is to be disowned by Christ.  Jesus now speaks not of “your Father” (as in v. 29) but of “my Father.”  In view is his special filial relationship with the Father, by which the final destiny of all humanity depends solely on his word.  The Christological implications of Jesus’ words are unavoidable, “Jesus makes the entire position of men in the world to come, whether for weal or woe, to depend upon their relationship to and attitude toward him in this present world.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 256)


What ultimately decides a person’s destiny is what Jesus himself will have to say about them “before my Father who is in heaven.”  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 405)


The point of all these verses is the necessity of deciding for Christ and remaining faithful to Christ until the end.  We cannot drift along and expect that everything will turn out all right.  To fail to decide for Christ and live for Christ is to be against him.  It is to perish.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 182)


Matthew stressed the Last Judgment and the relationship between the Father and the Son.  Jesus was making the astounding statement that each person’s standing before God is based on his or her relationship to Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the advocate whose intercession before God will depend on one’s faithfulness in acknowledging him.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 213)


At the final judgment Jesus will speak for or against a person on the basis of whether that person has been a fearless advocate or a silent witness.  One’s involvement in spreading the message of the kingdom has eternal consequences.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 98)


If Jesus is not God come in the flesh, this is either an example of an incredible insanity or else a hideous attempt to deceive other persons.  Which is it?  If Jesus was insane, ignore him.  It is the only rational thing to do.  If he was attempting to deceive other people, expose him.  Fight his lies for the sake of those who might be taken in and harmed by them.  On the other hand, if Jesus is who he claimed to be–if he is the true Son of God–then Jesus speaks the words of God and must be both believed and obeyed.  If Jesus is the Son of God, these are the most important words you will ever hear since your eternal destiny hangs on your acceptance or rejection of them.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 183)


His verdict will be on a reciprocal basis, with acknowledgment or denial depending on whether they have acknowledged or denied him.  The later experience of Peter (26:69-75) is an object lesson in denying Jesus under the pressure of public opinion, but Peter’s subsequent rehabilitation adds a reassuring suggestion that the stark verdict of this saying may be understood to refer to a settled course of acknowledgment or denial rather than to every temporary lapse under pressure.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 406)


II-  With Jesus it is an all or nothing proposition.   You are either 100% committed to Him or you are against Him.  (Mt 10:34-39; see also: Dt 4:29; 6:5; 10:12; 26:16; 30:6-10; Prv 3:5-6; Jer 29:13; Mt 12:30; 13:44-46;  16:24-27; 19:28-30; 22:37; Mk 8:34-38;  9:40; 12:30; Lk 9:23-24, 50-62; 11:23; 14:26; 12:49-53; Jn 12:25-26; Rom 12:1-2; Gal 2:20; Phil 3:7-8)


Commitment is never an act of moderation!  —Kenneth G. Mills


One either believes in Jesus or rejects him; there is no middle ground.  Before Jesus’ own family finally came to recognize his true identity and mission, they also opposed him (13:53-58; Mk 3:21; Jn 7:3-5).  So, like their Master, Jesus’ disciples can expect division to occur in their family as members try to prevent them from furthering Jesus’ mission.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 397)


Jesus will not be liked.   You either bow down and worship Him as God or kill him as a lunatic and a heretic.  But let us not think we can come to Jesus on the basis of any half-hearted relationship that is less than total commitment.  Jesus demands, “Crown me or kill me”.


If loving God with all our heart and soul and might is the greatest commandment, then it follows that not loving him that way is the greatest sin.  (R.A. Rorrey as quoted by  Ken Gire; The Reflective Life, 84)


Commitment involves choosing to be faithful to one while forsaking all others.


When you say yes to one thing, that means you say no to something else.  You can’t do everything.  —Pam Tillis


A leader who is not passionately committed to the cause will not draw much commitment from others.  (Lauire Beth Jones; Jesus Ceo, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, 51)


When your loyalty is to God on weekends but only to the bottom line on weekdays, you’re driving a wedge between yourself and God.  It would be like saying to your spouse, “As long as I’m home, I’m committed to you.  But when I go off to work, well, I might fool around a little.”  That would create a rift in your relationship, wouldn’t it?

Similarly, if you’re living a fragmented faith, you’re saying to God, “I’m committed to you in certain areas of my life.  But you need to know that when I’m at work, I’ve got a mistress called my career.”  Doesn’t it make sense that this would stymie your relationship with him?  (Lee Strobel; God’s Outrageous Claims, 52)


“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him:  ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a Great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God:  or else a madman or something worse.   You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit on Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.” (C. S. Lewis;   Mere Christianity, 55-6)


Whoever seeks God as a means toward desired ends will not find God.  The mighty God, the maker of heaven and earth, will not be one of many treasures, not even the chief of all treasures.  He will be all in all or He will be nothing.  God will not be used.  His mercy and grace are infinite and His patient understanding is beyond measure, but He will not aid men in their selfish striving after personal gain.  He will not help men to attain ends which, when attained, usurp the place He by every right should hold in their interest and affection.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 57)


He was asked if he was a Christian.  His answer was:  “Yes, but not offensively so.”  He meant that he did not allow his Christianity to interfere with the society he kept and the pleasure he loved.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 391)


When some great cause emerges, it is bound to divide people; there are bound to be those who answer, and those who refuse, the challenge.  To be confronted with Jesus is necessarily to be confronted with the choice whether to accept him or to reject him; and the world is always divided into those who have accepted Christ and those who have not.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 393-4)


There is no place for a policy of safety first in the Christian life.  The man who seeks first ease and comfort and security and the fulfillment of personal ambition may well get all these things–but he will not be a happy man; for he was sent into this world to serve God and his fellow-men.  A man can hoard life, if he wishes to do so.  But that way he will lose all that makes life valuable to others and worth living for himself.  The way to true happiness is to spend life selflessly, for only thus will we find life, here and hereafter.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 397)


In saying this, Jesus was not encouraging disobedience to parents or conflict at home.  Rather, he was showing that his presence demands a decision.  Because some will follow Christ and some will not, conflict will inevitably arise.  As his followers take their crosses and follow him, their different values, morals, goals, and purposes will set them apart.  Do not neglect your family, but remember that your commitment to God is even more important than they are.  God should be your first priority.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 213)


A person who “finds” his or her life to satisfy desires and goals apart from God ultimately “loses” life.  Not only does that person lose the eternal life offered only to those who believe and accept Christ as Savior, but he or she loses the fullness of life promised to those who believe.

By contrast, those who willingly “lose” their lives for the sake of Christ actually “find” them.  They will receive great reward in God’s kingdom.  To lose one’s life for Christ’s sake refers to a person refusing to renounce Christ, even if the punishment were death.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 215)


Love of one’s own life is often the greatest hindrance to full commitment to Christ.  Yet Jesus calls His disciples to total self-denial, including, if necessary, sacrifice to the point of death.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 233)


No matter how terrible they may be, the hardships and tragedies of human living that often befall Christians are not the crosses of which Jesus speaks.  Such things as a cruel spouse, a rebellious child, a debilitating or terminal illness, the loss of a job, or destruction of a house by a tornado or flood, may strongly test a believer’s faith; but those are not crosses.

The cross of a believer is not a mystical or spiritual identification with the cross of Christ or some “crucified life” idea.  Such concepts are foreign to the context, and the cross of Christ was yet future when Jesus spoke here.  The disciples would hear cross and think only of physical death.

A cross is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life, for the sake of Christ.  It is something that, like the Lord Himself, a believer must take on himself when it is thrust upon him by the unbelieving world because of his relationship to God.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 233)


The saying of Jesus is also true in a more general sense; to pursue selfish interests is to lose out on what life is all about, whereas to devote oneself to Christ brings deep and lasting satisfaction.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 99)


Few things do so much harm in religion as exaggerated expectations.  People look for a degree of worldly comfort in Christ’s service which they have no right to expect.  When they do not find what they were expecting, they are tempted to give up religion in disgust.  Happy is he who thoroughly understands that though Christianity holds out a crown in the end, it brings also a cross on the way.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 79)


The gospel is indeed a gospel of peace, because if offers the way to bring peace between a holy God and sinful man, and it shows the only way for having truly peaceful relationships between men and other men.  But because the world system is evil and man’s fallen nature is sinful, God’s offer of peace continues to be rejected and to be offensive to most of the world’s people.  This brings conflict into the most intimate of human relations, so that a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 230)


“The person who, when the issue is between me and what he considers his own interests, chooses the latter, thinking that by so doing he is going to ‘find’ himself, that is, secure a firmer hold on the full life, will be bitterly disappointed.  He will lose rather than gain.  His happiness and usefulness will shrink and shrivel rather than increase.  At last he will perish everlastingly.  On the other hand, the one who, confronted with the choice, gives himself away, that is, denies himself out of loyalty to me, being willing if need be to pay the supreme sacrifice, will attain to complete self-realization.  He will have life and will have it more abundantly until at last he will share with me the glory of my return and of the new heaven and earth.”  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 477)


The more we love this life’s rewards (leisure, power, popularity, financial security), the more we will discover how empty they really are.  The best way to “find” life, therefore, is to loosen our greedy grasp on earthly rewards so that we can be free to follow Christ.  We must risk pain, discomfort, conflict, and stress.  We must acknowledge Christ’s claim over our destiny and our career.  In doing so, we will inherit eternal life and begin at once to experience the benefits of following Christ.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 216)


It follows that to love members of one’s own family more than God disqualifies a person for discipleship.  Luke, who perhaps translates literally from an Aramaic source, has it that one must “hate” his own family in order to become a disciple of Jesus (Lk 14:26).  The issue is one of priorities:  our commitment to Christ must be greater than to anyone else.  Jesus is not counseling his followers to ride roughshod over family affection or responsibility.  The point is that when a person pledges solidarity with Christ and his mission, nothing–not even the love of a family member (understood as unsympathetic to the Christian faith)–must be allowed to stand in the way.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 98)


Epictetus says of Socrates:  “Dying, he was saved, because he did not flee.”  Socrates could easily have saved his life, but, if he had done so, the real Socrates would have died, and no man would ever have heard of him.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 396)


It is possible to deny Christ before men by silence, by failing to witness for Him and trying to be an unnoticed Christian–whose friends and neighbors, and perhaps even family, would never suspect of being a believer.  It is also possible to deny Christ by actions, living like the rest of the world lives, with no higher standards or values.  It is possible to deny Christ by words, using the world’s profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy.  It is possible to deny Christ in many ways that are short of verbally and publicly renouncing Him.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 228)


A little reflection will soon convince the earnest student of Scripture that there is a sense in which the coming of Christ into this world not only brought division but was even intended to do so.  If that had not been its immediate purpose would not all men have been lost (Jn 3:3, 5; Rom 3:9-18)?  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 474)


Obviously Jesus Himself was a cause of division among the Jews, and the truth that He taught was divisive as well.  He brought truth that provoked conflict, truth that provoked separation and division, even severing familial bonds.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 329)


Love of family is a law of God (see Eph 6:1-4; 1 Tm 5:8), but even this love can be self-serving and used as an excuse not to serve God or do his work.  We must not be so devoted or enmeshed in family love that we push Christ into the background.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 214)


Judas is the classic example of a professor who is not a confessor.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 229)


To receive either means to receive Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom and live under its authority and so receive life’s greatest reward–kingdom salvation and kingdom life.  Prophets and righteous men have already been blessed with that reward upon their own entrance to the kingdom of heaven, and their great privilege is to share it with others (cf. 5:12).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 398)


Again the saying is either that of the Messiah or of a maniac.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 257)


John Piper from Desiring God on Loving Christ as a self interest:

I have argued so far that disinterested benevolence toward God is evil.  If you come to God dutifully offering him the reward of your fellowship instead of thirsting after the reward of his fellowship, then you exalt yourself above God as his benefactor and belittle him as a needy beneficiary—and that is evil. (John Piper; Desiring God, 97)


Paul does not think the moral value of an act of love is ruined when we are motivated to do it by the anticipation of our own joy in it and from it.  If it were, then a bad man, who hated the prospect of loving, could engage in pure love, since he would take no joy in it; while a good man, who delighted in the prospect of loving, could not love, since he would “gain” joy from it and thus ruin it.  (John Piper; Desiring God, 100)


Love cannot be equated with sacrificial action!  It cannot be equated with any action!  This is a powerful antidote to the common teaching that love is not what you feel but what you do.  The good in this popular teaching is the twofold intention to show (1) that mere warm feelings can never replace actual deeds of love (Jam 2:16, 1 Jn 3:18), and (2) that efforts of love must be made even in the absence of the joy that one might wish were present.  But it is careless and inaccurate to support these two truths by saying that love is simply what you do and not what you feel.  (John Piper; Desiring God, 101)


The very definition of love in 1 Corinthians refutes this narrow conception of love.  For example, Paul says love is not jealous and not easily provoked, and that it rejoices in the truth and hopes all things (13:4-7).  All these are feelings!  If you feel certain things such as unholy jealousy and irritation, you are not loving.  And if you do not feel certain things such as joy in the truth and hope, you are not loving.  In other words, YES, love is more than feelings; but NO, love is not less than feelings. (John Piper; Desiring God, 101)


Definition of love that takes God into account and also includes the feelings that should accompany the outward acts of love:  Love is the overflow of joy in God which gladly meets the needs of others.  (John Piper; Desiring God, 103)


All men seek happiness.  This is without exception.  Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end.  The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views.  The will never takes the least step but to this object.  This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

Jonathan Edwards tied it to the Word of Christ:  “Jesus knew that all mankind were in the pursuit of happiness.  He has directed them in the true way to it, and He tells them what they must become in order to be blessed and happy.”

Edward Carnell generalizes the point:  “The Christian ethic, let us remember, is premised on the self’s love for the self.  Nothing motivates us unless it appeals to our interests.”  (John Piper; Desiring God, 177)


“Taking up my cross” has become a euphemism for getting through life’s typical burdens with a semi-good attitude.  Yet life’s typical burdens–busy schedules, bills, illness, hard decision, paying for college tuition, losing jobs, houses not selling, and the family dog dying–are felt by everyone, whether or not they follow the Way of Jesus.

When Jesus calls us to take up our cross, He is doing much more than calling us to endure the daily, circumstantial troubles of life.  The people in Jesus’ day were very familiar with the cross.  Having witnessed crucifixion, they understood the commitment and sacrifice of taking up a cross.

It is a call to radical faith.  (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 124-5)


III-  As ambassadors of Jesus, every effort for Jesus is equally rewarded no matter how obscure or seemingly insignificant.  It is not what you do that counts, but the heart and for Whom you are doing what you do.  (Mt 10:40-42; see also: 1 Sm 30:1-25; Mt 20:1-16; 25:31-46; 18:1-5; Mk 9:37-41; Lk 9:48; 10:16; Jn 12:44-45; 13:20; Acts 9:4; 1 Cor 12:1-31; 2 Jn 1:10-11; 3 Jn 1:5-8)



Now, two things must happen, if this good deed is to have its reward.  You must both receive a Christian and receive that one as a Christian, whether a minister or a lay believer.  But you will not receive the reward of a Christian if you do not receive a Christian, nor will you receive a reward if you receive a Christian but do not receive that one as a Christian.  Thus what is the meaning of “He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward”?  This means that whatever reward there is for the traveler, the one who receives that traveler for God’s sake will have the same reward.  And so these two are made equal, both the one who suffers for God’s sake and the other who gives refreshment for God’s sake.  (Anonymous, Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 26)


The receiving and the rewarding go hand in hand.  To be daringly identified with one of the King’s ambassadors will be to receive an ambassador’s reward.  Here is compensation commensurate with the deed.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 196)


Those who welcome the disciples welcome Jesus; those who welcome Jesus welcome the one who sent Jesus–God the Father.  Again Jesus unmistakably claims his relationship to God.  Jesus spoke these words to his twelve disciples, but then repeated the saying three more times using prophets, righteous people, and little ones.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 217)


To receive a prophet because he is a prophet (as in 1 Kgs 17:9-24; 2 Kgs 4:8-37) presupposes, in the context of v. 40, that he is Christ’s prophet–so also for the “righteous man.”  Thus the person who receives a prophet receives Christ, his word, his ways, and his gospel, and expresses solidarity with the people of God, these little ones, by receiving them for Jesus’ sake (cf. 2 Jn 10-11; 3 Jn 8).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 259)


The Jew always felt that to receive a person’s envoy or messenger was the same as to receive the person himself.  To pay respect to an ambassador was the same as to pay respect to the king who had sent him.  To welcome with love the messenger of a friend was the same as to welcome the friend himself.  The Jew always felt that to honor a person’s representative was the same as to honor the person whose representative he was.  This was particularly so in regard to wise men and to those who taught God’s truth.  The Rabbis said:  “He who shows hospitality to the wise is as if he brought the first-fruits of his produce unto God.”  “He who greets the learned is as if he greeted God.”  If a man is a true man of God, to receive him is to receive the God who sent him.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 397-8)


We cannot all be prophets, and preach and proclaim the word of God, but he who gives God’s messenger the simple gift of hospitality will receive no less a reward than the prophet himself.  There is many a man who has been a great public figure; there is many a man whose voice has kindled the hearts of thousands of people; there is many a man who has carried an almost intolerable burden of public service and public responsibility, all of whom would gladly have borne witness that they could never have survived the effort and the demands of their task, were it not for the love and the care and the sympathy and the service of someone at home, who was never in the public eye at all.  When true greatness is measured up in the sight of God, it will be seen again and again that the man who greatly moved the world was entirely dependent on someone who, as far as the world is concerned, remained unknown.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 398-9)


The Church and Christ will always need their great orators, their great shining examples of sainthood, their great teachers, those whose names are household words; but the Church and Christ will also always need those in whose homes there is hospitality, on whose hands there is all the service which makes a home, and in whose hearts there is the caring which is Christian love; and, as Mrs. Browning said, “All service ranks the same with God.”  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 400)


That kindness to Christ’s disciples which he will accept, must be done with an eye to Christ, and for his sake.  A prophet must be received in the name of a prophet, and a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, and one of those little ones in the name of a disciple; not because they are learned, or witty, nor because they are our relations or neighbors, but because they are righteous, and so bear Christ’s image; because they are prophets and disciples, and so are sent on Christ’s errand.  It is a believing regard to Christ that puts an acceptable value upon the kindnesses done to his ministers.  Christ does not interest himself in the matter, unless we first interest him in it.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 146)


It is commonly understood in the NT that a man’s agent must be received as the man himself (v. 40; cf. Lk 10:16; Jn 12:44-45; 13:20; Acts 9:4).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 258)


Those who go out to represent Jesus in a hostile society have no status, and may easily be pushed aside.  It is only when people recognize the special significance of these “little ones” through their relationship to Jesus and to “the one who sent him” that they are willing to take them seriously, and so to welcome them with acts of basic hospitality.  The cup of cold water is an essential though inexpensive provision in a hot climate, an act of expected hospitality as well as of kindness.  It is not much, but even that little (“just one,” representing monon, “only,” emphasizes how little it is), because of the attitude it represents, is enough to bring the reward.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 415-6)


We cannot all be shining examples of goodness; we cannot all stand out in the world’s eye as righteous; but he who helps a good man to be good receives a good man’s reward.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 399)


He who welcomes a prophet–not necessarily one of The Twelve but anyone who has the right to proclaim God’s truth–and does this not merely out of considerations of politeness or cordiality but very definitely because he regards this messenger to be a prophet indeed, and therefore in welcoming him wishes to welcome his Sender, shall receive the same reward as if he, the welcomer, were himself a prophet.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 478)


It is those who recognize such authority in the disciples who will welcome them, just as it is those who recognize Jesus as God’s representative who will welcome him.  The unspoken corollary (but spelled out in Lk 10:16) is that those who reject the disciples on their mission are guilty of a far graver fault than merely lack of hospitality to a fellow human being; they are rejecting God.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 413)


Worship Point:  Worship will come quite easily when you begin to realize . . . not only how far short you fall of being totally committed to Jesus, and the horrible consequences of failing to be totally committed; but also the fact that Jesus was totally committed for you.


It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self:  to Jesus:  but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”  All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self:  he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.”   Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him.  Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you.  (Alistair Begg quoting Charles. H. Spurgeon in Pathway to Freedom, 228-9)


Gospel Application:  Jesus lived a life of total commitment to God for you so you who trust in Christ might be saved and enjoy life in all of its abundance (light, blessing, life).


Tell me what you are committed to, and I’ll tell you what you will be in twenty years.  We become whatever we are committed to. (Rick Warren; The Purpose Driven Life, 180)


If you feel the call of the spirit, then be holy with all your soul, with all your heart, and with all your strength.  If, however, because of human weakness, you cannot be holy, then be perfect with all your soul, with all your heart, and with all your strength.

But if you cannot be perfect because of the vanity of your life, then be good with all your soul…Yet, if you cannot be good because of the trickery of the Evil One, then be wise with all your soul…

If, in the end, you can neither be holy, nor perfect, nor good, nor wise because of the weight of your sins, then carry this weight before God and surrender your life to his divine mercy.

If you do this, without bitterness, with all humility, and with a joyous spirit due to the tenderness of a God who loves the sinful and ungrateful, then you will begin to feel what it is to be wise, you will learn what it is to be good, you will slowly aspire to be perfect, and finally you will long to be holy.  (Quoted in Peter van Breeman, Let All God’s Glory Through, 134)


Spiritual Challenge:  Live your crucified life in line with the faith and commitments you profess.   Look to Jesus for the strength, hope, power and guidance you need to do this.


The all-essential hallmark of being a true disciple of Christ–and therefore of truly confessing Christ–is to be like Christ, our Teacher and Master (10:25).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 229)


Four types of people regarding commitment:

1-                                   Cop Outs – they set no goals , make no decisions

2-                                   Hold outs – They are uncertain if they can reach their goals, so they fail to start

3-                                   Drop outs – they start, but stop when the going gets tough

4-                                   All outs – They set goals, pay the price and reach their goals.




Quotes to Note:

Christ implies that a true disciple cannot but be a confessor, and that therefore the denier must certainly be one whom He has never known.  Because, therefore, each act is symptomatic of the doer, each receives the congruous and correspondent reward.  The confessor is confessed; the denier is denied.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 97)


 . . anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Jesus – Matthew 10:38





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