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Matthew 10 – Boundless Bible Challenge

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

– Matthew 10:38

Matthew 10 is Jesus’ second discourse that he gives to his disciples.  As you recall, Matthew ended chapter 9 with Jesus’ call for harvest workers to go into the fields.  Now Jesus sends his own disciples on their first mission as harvest workers.  Having been trained to be disciples, they are now ready to put their knowledge into practice.

In the first section of this discourse, Matthew records the authority that Jesus gave to the disciples as well as a list of the twelve that he sent out.  He then records Jesus’ instructions to the twelve for their mission.

In , Jesus instructs the disciples to only go to the Jewish people to proclaim the kingdom.  The reason for this was because the time had not yet come for the Gentiles and Samaritans to be grafted in.  We see many times in the New Testament that the Jews are always preached to first.  It is not that the Gentiles are less important, only that God’s people take the precedence.  Jesus’ purpose for sending out the disciples was so that the kingdom could be proclaimed.  Jesus gave the disciples authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons as a way to confirm their message to the people.

shows how the disciples needed to completely rely on God’s provision.  The disciples were not to accept any money, they were not to take any money with them, they were not to bring a bag or extra clothes, and they were to find a place to stay while they were in a town.  They were utterly dependent upon God and his provision throughout their journey.  He instructed them to preach to the towns of the country, but if a town did not respond to the message, they were to shake the dust from that town off their feet as a symbol of the town’s rejection.  Jesus says that it would be better to be judged as Sodom and Gomorrah than to be in one of the towns that rejects the kingdom proclamation.

Jesus tells his disciples that ministry is not always pleasant.  He prepares them for what they may face during this brief campaign and for what they will definitely face later on.

In , Jesus compares the disciples with sheep, doves, and snakes.  The sheep and doves represent vulnerability and transparency, while snakes signify wisdom and defensiveness.  These attributes are necessary for this mission because they need to be vulnerable in what they do by sharing the good news of the kingdom, but they must do so with wisdom and defensiveness if persecution were to arise.  In fact, Jesus promises that persecution will come.  Jesus says that there is a real possibility either now, or in the future, that the disciples would be arrested and taken to the courts.  However, Jesus says that being brought to the courts for the gospel message is an opportunity to witness to others.  Jesus tells his disciples that they need not fear what to say because the Holy Spirit will provide the words necessary for that moment.

Jesus also explains the severity of such persecution.  Even family members will persecute disciples to the point of death.  He emphasizes that persevering through persecution is the true test of a disciple.  When persecution arises, it is easy to give up under the pressure.  Persecution tests faithfulness.  Jesus also tells his disciples to flee if persecution arises.  Persecution is not something which should be sought after.  If persecution arises, it would be better to flee and continue the mission so that others may be saved.  Again, Jesus reiterates that persecution will happen because of people’s perception of Christ.  In , Jesus tells his disciples what the Pharisees called him in – Beelzebul, who is the prince of demons.  If Jesus was perceived to be the prince of demons, then his disciples would be persecuted for following such a person.

Jesus encourages his disciples in that they need not fear proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom because God will protect them.  The worst thing that could happen is they die.  Imagine that, that is the worst thing that could happen.  He shows the disciples’ innate worth by telling them that God is even under control of the sparrows which are sold for half a cent.  They are worth so much more than that.  In , Jesus again says that they do not need to fear acknowledging Christ before others because Christ will acknowledge them before the father.

Despite being called the “Prince of Peace”, Jesus says that he is also a divider among people.  Following Jesus will cause division among neighbors, friends, and even family.  This was not Jesus’ sole purpose for coming to earth, but it is the result of who he is – people will reject him and will reject those who follow him.  When Jesus says in that disciples must love him more than their family, he does not mean that they must completely despise their family.  Instead, by comparison, their love for their family should be minuscule to the love for Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  With this in mind, show the radical cost of discipleship.  The cross was an instrument of death in that time.  To even mention a cross was grotesque.  Jesus says that his disciples must be willing to be persecuted even unto death.  Have you thought about that recently?  Are you willing to die for Christ and the gospel?  A commentator writes, “The cost of discipleship is death to self-will always, physical death often.”

The last three verses of Matthew 10 () share some of the rewards for those who support the disciples during their short mission.  Receiving those who bring the gospel is like receiving Jesus Christ himself.  We must remember to continue to support and welcome those who come to minister and proclaim the gospel.

Please share your own insights from today’s study in the comment section below and pass this post along to your friends on Twitter and Facebook!

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These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'”
You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.”
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”
“But the Pharisees said, ‘He casts out demons by the prince of demons.'”
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 89.
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
William E. McCumber, Matthew (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1975), 77.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
About the author
Blake Fewell
Blake Fewell is a Salvation Army Lieutenant serving as the Corps Officer in Marion, IN. He grew up in Rockford, IL attending The Salvation Army all his life. Blake is passionate about Salvation Army theology and ministry. Other passions include running, brass band music, social media, reading, writing, and preaching. He holds a Bachelor's degree in systematic theology from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL and is working towards his Master's degree at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.