By James Fire
Note to TTUF readers: The conclusion of this chapter is rather brief, but I didn't want to include the content of this latter half with the former as that would have made the length of the overall teaching rather formidable.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
How horrific an idea it is that the LORD of Glory come in the flesh should be called Beelzebub by His enemies, but this sort of thing was actually declared by the Sanhedrin (that it was by the power of Beelzebub Jesus was able to cast out demons; see MT. 9:34); and yet the Holy One suffered such false accusations, being Supremely good and pure in nature – how much more shall we His saints who are redeemed sinners have need of bearing patiently such accusations.
As these days of evil grow darker, when all that is good is called evil and all that is evil is called good (IS. 5:20), shall we who are truly members of the body of Christ seen as evil to the religious/spiritual establishments of this world system. Such New Age Spiritualists as Marriane Williamson and Barbara Marx Hubbard have already made such assertions regarding born again, Bible believing Christians and their faith in the LORD Jesus Christ as the ONLY Way, ONLY Truth, and ONLY Life whereby we must be saved (JN. 14:6; ACTS 4:12).
We have addressed this issue on TTUF regarding what has been proposed as The Department of Peace, spearheaded by the aforementioned New Age Spiritualists which will monitor and keep in line all churches and religious organizations within the framework of ecumenically correct dogma. I believe that if this organization becomes Federally mandated and financed, that persecution will follow quickly after it!
Persecution against the church and those who have, and are, and will perpetrate such, will have their day in Court before the LORD Jesus Christ. During such time all things that were done in the dark (“conspiracies” any one?) will be brought to the light of God's holy and righteous judgment and every wrong ever committed against His children will be requited upon rebellious sinners who refuse the LORD's offered salvation! Let us therefore be “gentle as doves, wise as serpents” and remember that we are the LORD's sheep and He our Shepherd; He will take care of us in all of our hardships by His limitless grace and peace as we fearlessly proclaim His everlasting Gospel!
In a day such as ours when the American church is all about the wealth and health prosperity doctrine and any who would experience suffering and lowly stations in life are considered weak in the faith, let us remember these words from our LORD Himself, who though He is KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, He became poor for our sakes, that we might be rich (2 COR. 8:9) – but in what manner? No where does it teach in Scripture that the church would experience prominence and power among the nations of this world, but that it, like the LORD Himself would be disparaged and rejected, and even persecuted and martyred! I recall the words of the old hymn, Once To Every Man and Nation: “By the light of burning martyrs, Christ Thy bleeding feet we track...” If we will follow Jesus, it will mean suffering, persecution and require self-denial and carrying our cross and death to self (ROM. 8:13; COL. 3:5). The riches of Christ are those things inherent in Christ Himself: His Spirit, His grace and truth, His love and peace, etc.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For 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.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
It has been said that “He who kneels before God can stand before any one.” If we indeed confess Jesus as LORD, then we shall live lives in loving submission to His will. We shall readily and gladly confess Him before others, sharing the Gospel, and speaking the truth of God's Word. The sobering admonition that follows must be heeded: that those who deny Jesus, the LORD will deny them before the Father! Peter was such a one who denied Jesus – not once, or twice, but three times in a row (MT. 26:73-75)! And yet he was restored in his relationship to the LORD; the LORD even restored his office as an apostle (JN. 21:15-17)! This admonition, I believe is for those who ultimately deny the LORD, not in a moment of temporary weakness, which one is able to be restored from, as was Peter, but towards those who in word and deed deny the LORD, and continue to do so, until their final breath (and in the finality of death, there is no remedy for such a denial!).
The LORD reiterates then what He had said earlier (in vs. 21-23) concerning divided loyalties between one's own family (who oppose Christ) and the LORD Jesus Himself. Whenever the LORD repeats Himself, we do well to sit up and take notice! As a Christian of over thirty four years, I have witnessed the slow, irrevocable tide coming upon our American shores of a persecution heretofore unknown, but one that we will assuredly be experiencing if the LORD tarries!
The LORD Jesus then says something alarming, by declaring that He had come not to bring “peace but a sword”. We know that the Word of God itself is referred to as a “sword” (EPH. 6:17; HEB. 4:12) and His Word offends unrepentant sinners, while this same Word blesses, edified and received joyously by His children. Thus the godly saint and the ungodly sinner (even among the closest of family members!) can never, ever really 'co-exist' – just as well the Christian with people of various religious persuasions.
37 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.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Our love and devotion to the LORD Jesus Christ should know no equal; our affections for our Savior should have no rival affections at all. Any that might exist must be considered idolatrous and necessarily cast down so that Jesus remains absolutely and incontestably supreme as the love of our lives and ruler of our hearts. Any love expressed for our parents should pale* compared to the love we have for our God, and LORD and Savior Who has redeemed us from the curse of sin, and death and hell. No other has done for us what JESUS has done, therefore He is worthy to be exalted to the chiefest position in our lives, high above those places allocated for our parents, our spouses, and our children.
* Compare this portion of Scripture in MT. 10:37 with its parallel passage found in LK. 14:26-27.
In fact, it is only as we reserve that sole position of love for our LORD that we experience the depths of His love for us, and that love may then be expressed to all others, including our families. In other words, we love our families the most, when we love God first because we are then vessels of His love and may pass it on to all of our households!
Our love for our LORD should be so potent and fervent, that love for our very own lives likewise pales in comparison! That we would freely surrender our lives, the directions, the plans, the chiefest desires and yearnings for our LORD, preferring all of His desires and plans for us is something expected and not 'radical' (as it might appear in most, if not all of our churches today!)
Self-denial and 'cross-bearing' is something eschewed and perhaps even seen as offensive in churches today; we prefer to extol self-esteem and relish our 'best life now' rather than being true disciples of Christ will gladly lay down their lives, dying to self, that Christ may live through us and receive the glory. Yet the LORD promises that if we freely surrender our lives – which are temporary and full of struggle any way in this wretched world of sin – then we shall gain life eternal and all the (eternal) blessings associated with it (See MK. 10:30; JN. 12:25).
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Here we have the authorization of the MESSIAH Himself, the LORD CHRIST Jesus that any who receives His saints (whether a “prophet” or a “righteous man” on the mission of proclaiming the truth of His Word and the Gospel, will in all actuality receive Him. It is the receiving of Christ by faith that brings a person into the Kingdom of God:
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Spiritual rebirth results in receiving Christ, whereby we are considered “sons of God” or in the Hebrew, one who is directly created by God. Such was Adam but not his sons; the angels also were all directly created by God. Our once-dead spirits were made alive by God directly as a result of being born again (JOHN 3:3,5) in Christ.
As such children of God, we are also members of His Kingdom and ambassadors in the stead of Christ (2 COR. 5:20) and have such authorization to speak on the King's behalf as we expound on the Scriptures for the intent of sharing His truth and His Gospel. The LORD is careful to take note of all such ministry and will never overlook even the most simple and basic ministrations of the most menial sort – including giving a cup of water.
And with such words as these, Jesus Christ sent His twelve off to conduct such ministry to “lost sheep of Israel” that they might discover Him as the LORD their Shepherd!
In the next chapter we shall see the LORD Himself involved in ministry, just as He had just sent off His twelve to do likewise. Its in Chapter 11 that we witness the nagging doubt of John the Baptist, still incarcerated in prison and not released and free to work further in His LORD's kingdom as perhaps he might have expected. The LORD brings scathing rebuke to the various cities He had already visited, but seemingly did not repent at the hearing of His message.
All of this we shall look into as we continue in The GOSPEL of MATTHEW: The MESSIAH and HIS MESSAGE!