Being a Disciple: Matthew 10:16-42

Focus Passage: Matthew 10:16-42 (GNT)

16 “Listen! I am sending you out just like sheep to a pack of wolves. You must be as cautious as snakes and as gentle as doves. 17 Watch out, for there will be those who will arrest you and take you to court, and they will whip you in the synagogues. 18 For my sake you will be brought to trial before rulers and kings, to tell the Good News to them and to the Gentiles. 19 When they bring you to trial, do not worry about what you are going to say or how you will say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you will say. 20 For the words you will speak will not be yours; they will come from the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “People will hand over their own brothers to be put to death, and fathers will do the same to their children; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. 22 Everyone will hate you because of me. But whoever holds out to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, run away to another one. I assure you that you will not finish your work in all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “No pupil is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master. 25 So a pupil should be satisfied to become like his teacher, and a slave like his master. If the head of the family is called Beelzebul, the members of the family will be called even worse names!

26 “So do not be afraid of people. Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. 27 What I am telling you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight, and what you have heard in private you must announce from the housetops. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!

32 “Those who declare publicly that they belong to me, I will do the same for them before my Father in heaven. 33 But those who reject me publicly, I will reject before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; 36 your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.

37 “Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples. 38 Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39 Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.

40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward. And whoever welcomes a good man because he is good, will share in his reward. 42 You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.”

Read Matthew 10:16-42 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During Jesus’ initial “job description” for His disciples, He outlines a number of challenging ideas. But even with these challenging statements, Jesus shares a promise and He describes a bigger perspective regarding our life on planet earth.

Tucked within this challenge near the beginning of their time together, Jesus tells the disciples, “So do not be afraid of people. Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. What I am telling you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight, and what you have heard in private you must announce from the housetops.” (v. 26-27)

In these few verses, Jesus gives the disciples their mission. The disciples are to repeat Jesus’ words and His teaching, regardless of whether it makes them “friends” or not. I put friends in quote marks because someone who will only be your friend if you choose to give up something is not a very good friend. But neither is someone who will only be your friend if you must do something for them to keep the friendship.

The truth of history would show that the disciples made more enemies than friends by sharing Jesus’ message following His death. While the disciples succeeded in sharing God’s message and opening the door for the Holy Spirit to draw thousands into the truth about Jesus, many more people chose to ignore or be hostile towards what Jesus’ disciples taught. Many of the most hostile ones were the Jewish leaders – the very same ones who put Jesus to death.

Our big perspective shift comes in the next statement, and it focuses on where we should place our fear. Jesus cautions the disciples by saying, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (v. 28)

Some might take Jesus’ words in this verse as a license to convert people by inspiring them to fear God and His “Hellfire” punishment. By itself, this definitely sounds like it supports a cruel picture of God, but Jesus again puts this fear statement in perspective with the next three verses. “For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!” (v. 29-31)

Jesus describes how we are so much more valuable than the least valuable living thing at that time. In the market, one could purchase two sparrows for a penny, meaning that each sparrow was worth half a penny. In some ways, we might believe that God sees us in a similar way.

In the expanse of the universe, on a speck of a planet, are some tiny two-legged and two-armed creatures. It might be easy to picture God like the first century culture pictured sparrows: “worth less than a single coin”, but Jesus counters this idea by first giving value to sparrows, before giving value to each of us humans. “yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!” (v. 29b-31)”

The reason we serve God is not because He will destroy our body and soul in hell if we don’t. The reason we serve Him is because He values us so much that Jesus came from God to be a sacrifice for our sins. God loves us so much that He was willing to pay the penalty of sin so that we could be restored to Him. This endless, limitless love is the reason we serve, and when time ends and the heavens and earth are recreated, we will live together with God because of His love for us!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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