Gospel of Matthew Chapter Ten Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
He Gives And Equips
Verse 1: "Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." The "gifts" of the "Spirit," seen in places like 1 Corinthians 12:4-10, are generally thought to have arisen in Acts Chapter 2. Included in the Corinthians list in Verse 9, are "gifts of healing by the same Spirit..." The Greek words regarding healing in Matthew and Corinthians differ, but both describe the miraculous recovery of someone who needed healing. The disciples were now gifted, able to cast out demons and heal disease while Jesus was still with them. How amazed those disciples must have been. And such gifts, given by the grace of God through faith, have never gone away. Pray for the sick and God hears.
Verses 2-4: "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him." What odd choices. If you were selecting disciples (learners) from anywhere in the world, would you have chosen these men? The first four were obscure fishermen from a part of the world looked down upon by Jews. Quite a bit is known of these twelve who were now to be apostles (sent ones), but what is especially interesting is the message that God chooses ordinary, many times uneducated people. They would be unknown except for God's call on their lives. The world is to wonder about our unqualified state, and begin to see that it is the Holy Spirit in us who makes it happen. We saw Matthew in the preceding chapter and learned he was a tax collector for the Romans, a person hated by the Jews. And the list concludes with Judas Iscariot, a man God knew would betray the Lord for money. Not all among us are of the Lord.
Verses 5-15: "These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them:'Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.9 Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts,10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.11 And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.12 As you enter the house, give it your greeting.13 If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.14 Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.15 Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city." God initiated an attack on the selfishness and unbelief in this world by the inception of Israel, a nation God created out of one faithful man and a faithful woman, who came from the area of the country now called Iraq. And notice what was given to the "twelve"—the ability to heal! How wonderful! What would it be like to be suddenly able to prayerfully touch a diseased person, cast out demons and raise someone from the dead? If such gifts come into your life, always remember Isaiah 53:5—"by His stripes we are healed." It was not the twelve and it is not you or me—it is the Lord and what He did on the cross. I don't know about you, by the way, but I do know that if I was sent on a journey, I would want to carry changes of clothing, and make sure I had sufficient credit cards or money... but not these men. They were to essentially leave everything behind and set forth in sufficient trust that the Lord would sustain them. And He does. Note that God would go ahead of them, providing "worthy" people and accommodations for them. And see in Verse 15 that if your city, your community, your nation rejects the Lord and His loved ones, that place is in deep trouble. The Lord defends His Name and His people.
Verses 16-20: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues;18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." As we read, see or listen to the news, it's really true that many of the world's political, religious and other leaders are like "wolves" let loose in society. Our response is prayer, of course, because only the Lord can cause us to be both "shrewd...and innocent" at the same time. It's obvious here that to say "yes" to the Lord does not set us on an easy road into the future—but blessedly, God the Holy Spirit is with us on our journey. We are not alone, and if you haven't seen it yet, you will find that He is your Companion, giving you excellent, godly words to speak at key moments. He is with God's people.
Verses 21-23: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. 23 But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes." Families are amazing—the love, kindness and protection that is supposed to exist in them is wonderful, but it is often turned around and hatred exists instead. It's also true that placing your faith in the Lord Jesus does not necessarily make you popular. In many countries today, to become a Christian can be very dangerous indeed. The process mentioned in Verse 23 is still occurring, by the way. Persecution will continue until "the Son of Man comes."
Verses 24-26: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!26 Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." This “Beelzebul” (lord of the flies) is identified as Satan in Matthew 12:26-27. They lied about and persecuted Jesus and finally killed Him, though blessedly, as intended, He arose and is the Victor over sin and death. That was what happened to Him, and we should not be unduly surprised that life holds problems for us, His servants. Life in faith also includes more: Though we die, in Him, we will live. They maligned Him, called Him names, and when such things happen to you and me, we tend to feel isolated and alone in our suffering. But we are not alone. What has happened will be shouted from eternity and what we have suffered by doing His will, becomes victory in the power and love of God.
Verses 27-31: "What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." The Holy Spirit is continually speaking into the hearts of His faithful ones. He communicates deep in the center of our being, rendering us able to KNOW what we are to say and do. We saw in Chapter 6 that we are encouraged to NOT tell others when we commit acts of righteousness, give to the poor, pray, fast and forgive, for we have an audience of One, and His Name is God. But when He leads us to speak, we are to tell others what He intends them to hear. And don't be afraid of people, for the One who leads you is also the One who protects, and you are infinitely and eternally valuable in His sight. God loves you and proved it by dying in Your place. Don't be afraid... He is with you.
Verses 32-33: "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." In Acts 1 and other places, we find that Jesus left this place after His resurrection from the dead and went back to His Father's right hand. You might ask, what does He DO there? The answer is in Romans 8:34—"Christ Jesus, who died, more than that, who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, praying for you individually, for me, and for each one of us on earth. He no longer has human limitations as He did when He was here—a time when He "emptied" Himself, making Himself incredibly less than what He actually was and is (Philippians 2:6-8). He became our Sacrifice, our Representative before the Father. He is God who became human, with every right to condemn some and approve of others. And He does so on the basis of our faith or the lack of it. As Paul observed for us all, "not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" (Philippians 3:9).
Verses 34-36: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household." As humans, we tend to judge each other in superficial ways, deciding someone is a member of this race or that, not understanding that we are one race, the human race, a people that, as a group, lacks peace. Jesus was clear in John 14:27—"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you..." So why then, the "sword" instead of "peace" here in Matthew? The answer is that one person in a family or other group will trust in the Lord and another does not have that faith, often leading to animosity between them. They disagree on something infinitely important. The peace named by John, is simply peace with God. As a race, we became His enemies, declaring war on God—but when we trust in the Lord, that war for us is over, not only with Him, but also with others who have been blessed to have that faith also. We have peace, but not as the world gives.
Verses 37-39: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." Prayerfully take a look at what you want in life. You might discover that money is more important in your life than you thought. Good health—does the need for it go too far in decisions about what is important? What about family, as in these verses? Or national or tribal pride—what about that? A person on a cross loses everything. Reputation is gone and so is life as we know it. What is valuable to you? And are you willing to give up everything, if that is what the Lord calls you to do? To lose your life in His service is to find much more.
Verses 40-42: “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.42 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” The doors in life seem to open widely for some people... Others find the going much harder. Some are famous, others are unknown. Some are in high office while most are obscure laborers in the service of someone else. In that light, here are incredible promises from our Lord. If you simply RECEIVE one of God's prophets or somebody else in His service... if you merely help them, you get the same reward they receive. We are to love even our enemies, "expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great" (Luke 6:35). Look to the Lord, follow your heart and help others as He leads. Your reward will be assured because the Lord will make it so.
Lord, the words here seem difficult, and they are, but You are with me. I can do what You are calling me to do, because You are Wonderful and will accomplish it in and through me. Thank You. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.