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Sending out the Twelve
The Scripture for this study opens with the statement, "And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples." We want to speak of the facts that lie hidden away in these words.
1. The Lord needs special men for special tasks. Somehow or other we believe just what is written: "And to every man his work." God does not say, Anybody and everybody rush out and get busy: He says, to this one, Do this; and that one, Do that.
Everybody's task may prove to be no one's task.
2. This leads us to say the Lord still calls men to their work. Paul delighted to sign himself, "Called to be an Apostle." Certainly Paul was called. The truth is, he himself spoke of having been separated by God from his mother's womb; and then, later on, called by His grace.
In the Old Testament the Prophets had special calls. Here are some statements:
Of Isaiah it is written: "I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
Of Jeremiah it is written "The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, * * I knew thee; * * I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a Prophet unto the nations."
Of Ezekiel it is written: "The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel."
Of Hosea it is written, "The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea," saying "Go."
Of Jonah the Word writes, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city."
And so we could go on. Yes, there is a definite call from God, to definite men. Nothing vital could ever be done by any hit-and-miss method. God has system, and necessarily so, because a definite purpose and plan, such as God has ordained, must include definite men and women to operate that plan.
Thus the Twelve were called. Thus, of John the Baptist it is written, "There was a man sent from God."
3. This leads to a further statement: Men called of God are separated both from other men, and unto God. Matthew 10:2 and Matthew 10:3 of our study give the names of the Twelve. When Christ called these Twelve, He separated them out as personalities, bearing distinctive names, to do His work.
Were there any of the many about Him who might have said, "Why did not the Lord choose me?" Perhaps so. However, the Lord has a right to exercise authority and exert autocratic powers. He is not like we are, given to mistakes. He knew whom He wanted, and why He wanted them. He knew what was in each of them, and the nook each one could fill.
We who are not chosen, however, to be one of the Twelve, are chosen to service; and we may do well to obey in our sphere, and to serve well, for we too may thus obtain a goodly "Well done."
4. This leads us to say that Christ in choosing the Twelve knew all about Judas. Matthew 10:4 names Judas Iscariot as the twelfth disciple, and adds, "who also betrayed Him." We do not need to discuss the why of this choice; it was the Lord's choice, and not ours.
5. This leads us to say that being called to special service brings us special nearness to Christ. Matthew 10:1 says He "called unto Him." They were not only separated from other men by the Lord, but they were called into a comradeship with Him, that grew the sweeter as the years went by. "What a privilege is ours when we are sent forth in His service; for He has said, "I am with you."
6. This leads to our final word: When there is a special call, there is always a special promise of power. Matthew 10:1 says, "He gave them power." He also gives us power. "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me." "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go * *, and, lo, I am with you."
If we are sent forth in so great a task as representatives of God, we must be empowered as His ambassadors, or else we will utterly fail in our ministry.
I. A SPECIAL COMMISSION (Matthew 10:1 ; Matthew 10:5-6 )
1. A particular service. Here is the way it is stated: "He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." There was a threefold reason for this:
(1) The Lord had a compassionate heart toward the sick and sought to convey blessings upon their bodies. We think of Jehovah's word to the Prophet Jonah, "And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" Such was, and such is, the heart of God toward little children, and toward the cattle of the fields.
(2) The people had a need along physical lines. Certainly the word, "My God shall supply all your need" includes the needs of our physical man, for both food and raiment, and for healing and health. This much of it certainly comes down to us.
(3) There were the special signs of that hour. The Lord sent them forth with signs following. This same thing was done for the Church in its beginnings. There is a definite promise to this effect in Mark 16:1-20 .
We do not insist that the signs given to the Twelve, and afterward to the Church in its beginnings, are still God's purpose through the age now about ready to close. We do emphatically teach that the same signs, perhaps with augmented power, will be regnant during the Tribulation period, under the two witnesses, and also at the Coming of Christ, and the beginning of the Kingdom age.
Now, for this age, we are safe to say that there is no written statement in the Bible that they are withdrawn. We grant that they did not hold the prominence in the latter part of the Book of Acts that they did in the earlier days of the Church. However, God is sovereign, and will give miracles as signs, when and where He deems necessary. A lack of these "signs" following, in the ministry of any of God's servants does not, by any means, suggest that such an one is not Spirit-filled, as some would insist. Not at all. In many cases it shows only that God wills differently.
However, let one thing never be forgotten: that God still cares for us and desires to give us healing and health, as well as to supply all our needs; just as He has always done in every age, to those who trust Him.
In this age, when we are sick, we should obey to the letter James 5:1-20 and trust God for healing.
2. A particular field and people. Christ had a perfect right to say to the Twelve, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not," and also to say, "But go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel."
Remember, however, His "go not" did by no means suggest that He did not want both Gentiles and Samaritans to be saved. It did mean that he had a preparatory ministry, "to the Jew first," and then to the Gentiles.
The Lord, as Head of the Church, still has the right to dictate the movements of His disciples. He does this very thing. "Go thou here," is His command to one, and "Go thou there," is His command to another.
II. RECEIVING AND GIVING (Matthew 10:8 , l.c.)
Our part of the verse reads: "Freely ye have received, freely give." There is a wealth of truth in this expression.
1. Freely ye have received.
(1) What have we that we have not received? God has crammed the earth with everything necessary to meet our physical need for food and raiment. If there are some of the people who have nothing to eat and nothing to wear, it is not because of a lack of the Divine supply; it is because certain men have put a monopoly on what God has given.
There is a verse in Matthew 6:1-34 which says, "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." He clothes the lilies and feeds the sparrow: how much more will He care for us.
God has also supplied things for the mental and spiritual man. We emphasize the latter. The Word of God has given the full revelation of all that we need in the spiritual realm.
(2) Not only has God provided but He has provided freely, abundantly. There is a superabundance in every realm, of every good thing. God did not give to us stintingly. He has given good measure, pressed down, and running over.
2. Freely give. If we follow the example of our Master we will give. Our mother used to sing a little song to us which we well remember.
"Give," said the little stream, "Give, oh, give; give, oh, give;
"Give," said the little stream, as it trickled down the hill.
God has taught everything around us to give, and taught it to give freely. Does He not also teach us to freely give?
He who would give his tithe alone, is a legalist. He who gives his tithes and offerings, and gives them freely, is under grace.
III. THE LAW OF SUPPLY (Matthew 10:9-10 )
1. A positive command to the Twelve. God said: "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat."
(1) God is teaching trust. If we go out with everything that we need, not only for the first mile, but for the whole of our journey; we will find no place to depend on God. We will be drawing on the supplies laid up.
(2) God did not want His disciples overburdened with things unnecessary for travel. This would be a hindrance. Of course, they were not going very far, and they would strike no changes of climate during their itinerary.
(3) God wanted to teach them that the workman is worthy of his meat, and He wanted to throw the supply of their needs upon the people to whom they preached. If the preacher or the missionary goes out with an abundance of everything needed for food, raiment, etc., then the people who are ministered unto will have no opportunity to minister in return. God has written that He who soweth spiritual things should reap in carnal things (1 Corinthians 9:11 ).
2. Lessons for us. We who live in the twentieth century are used to saying that the words written in the 1st century, and given to the Twelve and to the seventy, do not at all meet the needs of the twentieth century, and of us, the disciples who were sent far away into the uttermost parts of the earth, and unto a people living in heathen darkness.
There may be some truth in all of this, but we hold that what is good for one age, is good for another; and that what Christ told the Twelve, and the seventy, must beyond doubt contain a deep message of truth to those of us who labor today. The great underlying truth is as follows:
First, We must go in absolute dependence upon God.
Secondly, We must expect the natives, wherever we labor, as soon as they are saved, to undertake the responsibility of Christian munificence and liberality.
Thirdly, We must not live in such gorgeous display and luxury, so far above the people with whom we labor.
These three suggestions may not please well many of our missionaries. We have found in India that some missionaries could, we believe, obtain far more support from the native Christians if they would throw themselves more fully upon them. This may be, perhaps, more true of the native preachers. If the native preachers did not have a steady income from abroad, they would learn to trust God for their income from their own people, while their own people, on the other hand, would be taught the joy of giving.
IV. THE LAW OF HOSPITALITY (Matthew 10:11-13 )
1. Inquiring who is worthy. When the Twelve went into a certain city or town, they were told by the Lord, "Enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence." The Lord expected the people who were able so to do, and were spiritually worthy, to entertain His messengers. This is still true.
Mrs. Neighbour and I, in our missionary tour, have asked for no funds at any time. In writing of our coming to this or that city, we have felt free to say that entertainment would be acceptable. We have felt free to do this, because this is God's command. Be "given to hospitality," is the Word of God.
In the days of our youth, when a minister went to a city as visiting evangelist or preacher, he was entertained in the homes of the people. Today he is sent to the hotel, and usually he demands the very best.
We think that the failure of the homes to entertain is due, in most part, to the unwillingness of visiting preachers to be entertained.
We grant that things are different, and that in a hotel the minister is not compelled to spend his whole time entertaining, or being entertained; beside he can better do his writing and work in a hotel than in a private home.
Homes also, today, are built in apartments where but little room is left for the prophet's chamber. We know all of this, and yet, somehow, we wish we were back in the days of former simplicity and restfulness.
2. Letting your peace come upon the home that is worthy. So it was in that day, and so it should be in this day. Any home entertaining the prophet of God should find a special blessing thereby. When the Ark abode in the house of Obed-edom, the house of Obed-edom was blessed. When any home receives a God-sent and Spirit-filled minister, that home, both through his prayers and through his presence, should be blessed.
V. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF A HOUSE OR A CITY TO THE VISITING MINISTER (Matthew 10:14-15 )
1. Homes and cities may not realize their responsibility toward one who has been sent from God. The fact of the business is, as we see it, few homes, few cities, and few villages, realize that they have any responsibility whatsoever toward the man who is sent of God to minister in their midst. They are utterly oblivious to the fact that God has any claim upon them whatsoever, or that a minister has any right to expect anything of any house or community.
Listen to the words of God: "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet."
If a man sent by the government, and sent under great authority, goes into a city, the city will arise to give him welcome. The keys of the city will be turned over into his hand. The servant of God, however, may go to a city and depart therefrom, and there isn't a leaf that stirs, nor any commotion of any kind to suggest his presence.
We do remember how we went to Kansas City, Kansas, to conduct an evangelistic campaign in the English Evangelical Lutheran Church. We were carried to the hotel, and at about ten o'clock Sunday morning, the pastor accompanied by the mayor of the city, and with about 24 trumpeters dressed in white, escorted us through the streets of the city and to the Lutheran Church with the band playing the hymns of Zion. Of course, we had a good meeting.
Something like this should be the attitude of every city where a special ambassador from Heaven is sent on a special mission.
2. The seriousness of rejecting one sent from God. Not only were the disciples to shake off the dust of their feet, but the Lord added these words: "Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." We need not marvel at the hard times, the drought, the devastating storms, and many other things that are befalling various towns and cities when we think of the little attention that they are giving to God and to His ambassadors.
VI. A SOLEMN WARNING (Matthew 10:16-18 )
The minister and the missionary should not expect that every home and every city will receive him.
1. Christ warned, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." There was to be an expected antagonism and resistance to the gospel message. Wolves are not given to welcoming sheep, except they welcome them in their claws, to rend them and destroy them.
Sheep, therefore, in entering into the midst of wolves should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We must not go into a city armor-clad with the weapons of warfare used by the world. We must go in with the wisdom of God, and with the spirit of meekness.
2. Christ warned: "Beware of men." He knew what was in men. He said: "For they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles."
Our mind naturally goes to the Apostle Paul. We think of what he endured for Christ's sake. We think of how he was delivered up and scourged, and brought before governors and kings.
Shall we of the twentieth century expect to undergo nothing for Christ such as was undergone by the Twelve; by Paul and Barnabas; by Silas, and by Timotheus and the rest? Nay, we too must suffer for Christ's sake; and, as the age draws nearer and nearer to its close, we may expect to suffer more and more.
VII. THE DISCIPLE IS NOT ABOVE HIS MASTER (Matthew 10:24 )
It has been necessary to group the final Scriptures in our study.
1.Matthew 10:19; Matthew 10:19 and Matthew 10:20 tell us that we shall have no thought as to how or what we shall speak in the days of our persecution. They tell us that a special unction from Heaven will be given us on that day, and that the Spirit of our Father will speak in us.
2.Matthew 10:21; Matthew 10:21 and Matthew 10:22 tell us that we shall be delivered up to death. Not that alone, but that the brother will deliver up his brother, and the father will deliver up his child, and the children will rise up against their parents. All of this is being literally fulfilled in Russia at this very moment. We have read how little children are commanded by the government to spy against their fathers and mothers and to report if they go to church, etc.
3.Matthew 10:22; Matthew 10:22 tells us that we shall be hated of all men for His name's sake. These words reach far beyond the days of the Twelve, and look into the very days of the Great Tribulation, because the verse concludes with the statement, "But he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Matthew 10:23 also speaks of the Coming of Jesus Christ, linking the commands of all that we have studied, down to the very end of this present age.
4.Matthew 10:23; Matthew 10:23 tells the saints that if they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another. If one city is closed, another may open the doors.
Following this command, Christ said: "For verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come." We can almost feel ourselves in the last days. The Church is raptured now, and the sealed among the Children of Israel are once more preaching the Word. Persecution is riot. The antichrist and the false prophet are in power, and Israel is suffering, particularly those who dare to name His Name.
5.Matthew 10:24; Matthew 10:24 says: "The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord." Whatever our Lord suffered in His day, we should be willing to suffer in ours. If He was called Beelzebub, how much more should we expect to be so called.
Let us fear not, therefore. Though they kill our body, they cannot kill our soul.
No man is sent to the warfare on his own charges; and yet many Christians argue as if that were one of Heaven's standing orders. None, however, is ever called to a work which God does not know is within the limits of his strength which He has given, or which He is ready to give, to the opened, upturned heart. He does not want our strength; it is often a hindrance to Hun, because we are so apt to rely on it, to the exclusion of Himself. He wants our weakness, our infirmities, our nothingness, "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." So far from your consciousness of powerlessness being a barrier to your efficient work, it will be one of the strongest elements in your success, if only you are driven to lay hold on His strength, and be at peace. * * When asking Christians to undertake certain branches of Christian work, one is so often met with the excuse, "I cannot do it; I am not fitted for it. I have no power to speak." Such have much need to get back to the desert, and learn the significant lesson of the rod which Moses held in his hand. * * Why should we not be as that rod in the hands of Christ?
The Disciple and His Lord
We thought it well to present seven names by which the children of God are known in the New Testament.
1. The first name we shall mention is "disciple." That is the word used in the first verse of our Scripture lesson. The word really means "learner." We are familiar with Mary and her sister Martha. Mary had this distinction that she sat at Jesus' feet and heard His Word. Martha, to the contrary, was cumbered about many things.
The Lord Jesus said of Mary, She "hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away." Can we truly call ourselves disciples "learners"? Do we sit at Jesus' feet as He opens up unto us the deep things of God?
2. The second name is "apostle." This word means "a sent one." Christ called unto Him His disciples, and from them He chose out twelve, whom He named "sent ones."
The name "apostle" has practically dropped out of use among the churches of today. We suppose that no one cares to assume so great a title as that accorded the Twelve. Yet Paul spoke of himself as Paul the Apostle. We also read of others who were Apostles of the Lord. We too, if we hold a special commission of God, and are ordained of God are apostles, whether we bear the name or not.
3. The third name is "servant." A servant is not only one who serves, but one who serves menially, under orders. This name also occurs in this study. The word servant, in the old use of the terra, means a slave, a bondslave. Should any of us hesitate to bear this name? Cannot we say what Christ said "Mine ears hast Thou digged." If the Lord could say, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God," should we not gladly say the same?
4. Another name is "workman." We read, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." As a workman, we should know our tools, and the Book is the chief tool with which we serve.
A workman should shun every tool not approved, such as profane and vain babblings. That kind of word doth eat as a canker. When, however, we are wise workmen, wielding the Word of truth with efficiency, we shall prosper,
5. "A soldier," is another word which describes the children of God. A soldier is one given not to dress parade and regimentals, but to enduring hardness. Paul delighted to say, "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air." He also could say, "I have fought a good fight." As soldiers, let us wage a warfare of honor. As soldiers, let us gladly go and undergo in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.
If we would please God as a soldier, we must not entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life. We must stand ready to go at any moment to the front of the battle.
6. A sixth name is "vessel." This name carries with it the thought of being clean and made ready for use. In a great house there are not only vessels of wood, of iron, and of stone, but also of silver and of gold. Now, if a man is purged and clean, he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified and made fit for his Master's use. A vessel is not supposed to have a mind of its own, it is only to lie pliant in the master's hand.
7. A husbandman. Here is our seventh name. The husbandman is the gatherer of the fruit. This name bespeaks not alone our sowing of the seed, but our harvesting of the ripened grain. It tells us of the day when we shall enter into the blessings of our labors. Paul, in Spirit, wrote, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Coming?"
I. A HAPPY RELATIONSHIP (Matthew 10:24 )
1. The union of Christ with His people is one of closest intimacy. His all He gives to us, and our all we give to Him. We walk together along life's pathway. We sit together, we talk together. He sups with us, and we with Him. He tells us that we are His joy; and He is our Joy. "So shall we ever be with the Lord," is our promised destiny. He says, "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them." We are called into comradeship with Him. We shall one day be like Him, when we see Him as He is. We are His Body, His Bride, His co-heir. Could any relationship be closer than ours to Him?
2. The union of Christ and His people never speaks of the superiority of His people to Himself. We who by grace are lifted to so high and holy a position as union with Deity, must never seek to be more than we are.
(1) We should take the position of learners. Our place is not teaching Him, nor telling Him what to be or to do. We are not to give the Word to Him, but to hear it from Him. We are not to teach Him, but to be taught by Him. As the wife is subject to her husband, so should we be to Him in everything. If the woman is not to teach nor to exert authority over the man, neither are the men to exert authority over Him. We are one, and yet we are to learn submission and subservience to Him.
(2) We should take the position of servants. Have you not heard Him say, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me"? He never thought being God a thing to be grasped at, for He was God. Yet He learned obedience to the Father's will; He gladly humbled Himself and took upon Himself the form of a servant, even the form of man. If He, our Lord one with the Father, could truly say, "I am meek and lowly in heart," should we not also be meek and lowly? Yes, we will ever delight to serve Him, both now and in Heaven, for His servants shall see His face, and they shall serve Him.
3. The union of Christ with us does not mean that we are ABOVE our Lord. This could not be. We are what we are by grace, and we must not presume on His grace to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.
II. A UNION WITH CHRIST IN HIS SUFFERINGS (Matthew 10:25 )
1. We who are to be one with Him in His glory, should gladly be one with Him in His suffering. We are not above our Lord and Master. It is given unto us not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
Our place is outside the camp with Him, bearing His reproach. If you say, How can One so altogether lovely be despised and rejected of men? this we cannot explain; however, we know that He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. We know that He came to Israel, came to His own; came with His hands and heart filled with love and blessing, yet His own received Him not.
What then? Shall we seek to be loved by them who loved Him not? Shall we, who are His, and who bear His image in our faces, seek to shun the shame and the spittle that befell Him? God forbid. We are not above our Lord and Master in His sufferings.
2. We who are His may expect to be a partaker of all that befell Him. Should we think it strange that we are called Beelzebub, if He was so called? Shall we wonder why we are hated, when He was hated? Nay, we should the rather be surprised if the world hated Him, and loved us; if the world despised Him, and accepted us.
God says, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you." Is that some strange thing? Nay, it would be strange if we were not partakers with Him in His ignominy. Our verse says, "How much more shall they call them of His household?" So all this is to be expected by us.
3. The Lord Jesus never sought to hide away the fact that His saints would suffer. He never covered up the tragedy of our trials by the way. He never promised a smooth pathway, strewn with flowers, where soft zephyrs even blow.
To a "would-be follower" who had said, "I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest" Christ responded, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."
To another, the rich young ruler, Christ said: "Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and * * come and follow Me." To another, Christ said, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."
If we would be followers of the Lord, we must take up our cross and follow Him.
III. A CALL TO FEARLESSNESS (Matthew 10:26 ; Matthew 10:28 )
1. True bravery is God's call to saints. What if the foes are strong, and the trials are many let us hold up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. Let us not run from the foe. Nay, we are to stand, and having done all, to stand. We have no armor for our backs; however, God has panoplied us with abundant protection for facing the enemy.
The words of God to Joshua still ring out: "Only be thou strong and very courageous." And again, "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage." Then Joshua answered, "All that Thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever Thou sendest us, we will go." Then once again, the Lord said, "Only be strong and of a good courage."
If you were in Korea today, what would you do? The government has passed orders that all children in the Mission School shall daily be taken down to heathen shrines and forced to worship their idols. What would you do? What would I do? What should they do?
2. Consummate bravery even unto death is the call. Hearken to the words of our Lord, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul"; that is, we are to be faithful even unto death, even unto martyrdom, if that is necessary. And how many have been faithful? It would do all our people good to read again Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It would strengthen our shaking knees if we were to go to some parts of this present world, at this present hour, and see men and women, even boys and girls, standing unwaveringly in the presence of threatened death.
3. We are to carry on for the Lord no matter what happens. He is still saying, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." This is the call to a faithful ministry of the Word. Of some it is written, "And they loved not their lives unto the death." Shall we lie low with our testimony and hide from our foes, or shall we speak His Word at all cost?
IV. THE ALL-SEEING EYE OF OUR LORD (Matthew 10:29-30 )
1. The message of the sparrow. Christ, seeking to strengthen His saints to their call to suffer, said: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."
Yes, the song is true, "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He cares for me." The sparrow may be the most insignificant of birds, and the most despised by man; yet God says that not one of the little things falls without His seeing, and knowing, and caring.
What, then, about saints? They are most precious unto Him. For them He sold all He had, and bought them. We are His jewels, His pearls of great price. We are His own workmanship, created in His own image, and recreated in new birth into His likeness. Thus, if He cares for the sparrow, are we not of much more value than they?
2. The message of assurance. "The very hairs of your head are all numbered." God, it seems to us, could not make His watching care more considerate and faithful than is expressed by these words. If no sparrow can fall without my Father, and if not a hair of my head can miss His watchful eye, surely I can trust in Him.
God is indeed teaching us to trust in His love and care. "He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
V. THE BLESSED CONFESSION OF OUR NAME (Matthew 10:32-33 )
1. Those who confess Him now, He will confess by and by. These words are indissolubly linked with our present sufferings for His sake, and with the Father's watchful eye. He had been saying something like this:
(1) If they called Me Beelzebub, they will so call you.
(2) Pear them not, for I know it all, and I am watching from above.
(3) I observe you, for the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Now He says, in the light of His call to us to suffer for His sake, "Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, Him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven." In other words, God is saying, "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid that shall not be known." He is telling us that He is keeping tab on our service and preachments. He is watching our confession of His Name.
What does all this mean to us? It means this: if we confess Him, He will confess us. It means if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before the Father; if we confess Him here, on earth, He will confess us there, in Heaven.
In other words, it means, "Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me." God is not and cannot be unforgetful of our work and labor of love, which we have showed in His Name. If He could be unmindful, He would be unrighteous toward us. Nay, He is watching sympathetically and appreciatively, and He will, with great joy, confess us before the Father and the holy angels.
2. Those who deny Him now, He will deny them before the Father. If one side is true, the other side is necessarily true. This thirty-third verse tells us that God not only knows the witnessing of the faithful, but He knows the denials of the unfaithful, and of those who fear. Talking of sorrow in Heaven: what could be a greater sorrow than to hear Christ's denial of our service up there in the Glory?
It is only those who suffer for Him who will reign with Him; those who deny Him, He will deny. He will take the one group into His reign, the other group will be left out of the reign. Saved, so as by fire, they will enter into eternal life, yet they will not have places of honor and recognition in the Kingdom reign.
VI. THE INSIDE OF A TRUE CONFESSION (Matthew 10:34-37 )
1. This is not the time of the Prince of peace. Christ said, in Matthew 10:34 , "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."
Here is a word that may adjust some false teaching. Some speak as though this was the hour of peace on earth, and of good will among men. Not so. There is a peace to those who know and obey the Lord. "Peace I give unto you." There is a peace of men of good will. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace." However, this is, generally speaking, an age of war and rumors of war. It is an age of conflict between the true and the untrue, between Christ and Belial, between the right and the wrong.
Instead of peace among men, Christ brings separation into the homes of the saved.
2. This is an age of contrasts and variances, one against another. That variance enters into the very home itself. Here are the statements of the Lord: "I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
What is the depth of all this? It suggests that there is an unavoidable chasm between the life of the saved and the unsaved. This chasm cannot be spanned even by family ties. In many homes the one is living for this life, and the other for the life to come; the one has Satan for his master, and the other has Christ; the one sets his affection on the things beneath, and the other on the things above.
3. A man's foes shall be they of his own household. The greatest obstacle to spiritual life often lies in the home. The strongest foes to Christian service are often in the home. The unregenerate will put every possible obstacle in the way and walk of the redeemed.
Satan has no greater delight than in dividing households. He will seek to keep the citadel of the home as the fulcrum of his strongest hindrances to prayer, and spiritual life.
What then? There can be but one conclusion, and Christ makes that plain: The Christian is called to forsake all, even his dearest loved ones, to follow Christ.
VII. WHERE TRUE VALUES ARE TO BE FOUND (Matthew 10:37-39 )
1. True obedience, true worth, is dependent on leaving father, mother, son, or daughter. Here it is as the Lord Jesus said it: "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
When one said, "Suffer me first to go and bury my father," Christ said, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the Kingdom of God." In following Christ fully, He must take the pre-eminence over any and all loved ones at home. In all things He must be first. His call supersedes all other calls, His love all other loves.
2. True worth is dependent on the taking of the cross. "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me." The cross is not a precious gold bar which we are to wear; it is the thing that runs directly over and against the will of the flesh, and the will of men. The cross is a rough and goading thing which men despise, and which bears us. The cross means our going with Him outside the camp, and bearing His reproach.
3. True worth is found in losing our life for His sake. "He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it." Again, "He that findeth his life shall lose it." This suggests that when one sees his cross and spurns it, it will prove his loss; but when he sees his cross and bears it, he shall have gain. He that is willing to put his life; that is, his hours of being, his days, his years, into a full consecration unto God, shall find those hours, and days, and years, on the other shore, abundantly multiplied.
Once more we have the question of Heavenly rewards or loss in the light of full obedience to Christ down here.
4. True worth is in receiving Christ's own into one's heart and affection. "He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me." When your life is being spent as a living sacrifice for Christ, when your all is on His altar, and someone receives you, such a one also receives your Lord; and, in receiving your Lord, he also receives the Father.
The question that all of us should ask ourselves, is this: Do we serve for love or pay?
A lad named Sydney, who had reached the age of ten, overheard a conversation about certain bills which had to be paid, and conceived the idea of making out a bill for what he himself had done. The next morning he quietly laid on his mother's plate at breakfast the following statement: 'Mother owes Sydney: For getting coal six times, 6d. For fetching wood lots of times, 6d. For going errands twice, 4d. For being a good boy, 2d. Total, Isaiah 6:1-13 .' His mother read the bill, but said nothing. That evening Sydney found it lying on his own plate, with the is. 6d. as payment; but accompanying it was another bill, which read as follows: 'Sydney owes mother: For his happy home for ten years, nothing. For his food, nothing. For nursing him through illness, nothing. For being good to him. nothing. Total, nothing.' When the lad had looked at this, his eyes were dim and his lips quivering. Presently he took the Isaiah 6:1-13 . out of his pocket, and rushed to his mother, flung his arms around her neck, and exclaimed: 'Mother, dear! I was a mean wretch! Please forgive me, and let me do lots of things for you still.' Jesus gave His all for us (Philippians 2:6-8 ). How do we answer His question. "Lovest thou Me?" (John 21:15 )."
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Matthew 10". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent