Sermon on Matthew 10:5a,21–33
Text: 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions:
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”
In our sermon text last Sunday, we had the account of Jesus choosing his twelve disciples. They were also told what they were to do. They were to proclaim the message that the kingdom of heaven was near. What a wonderful job they had been given to do. They were sent out by Jesus to share the gospel message. Immediately, following their Call, they were told how many would respond to their message. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me.” (Verses 21-22) Many would not only ignore their message, but they would oppose it, sometimes violently. No doubt, the apostles were disheartened by this news from Jesus. Yet, Jesus did not want them to go into this blind. As we go forth with the message of Jesus, we will not always be welcomed, either. Yet, Jesus encourages us as he did the apostles to CONFIDENTLY CONFESS CHRIST 1. Without Fear Of Those Who Oppose, 2. Without Fear That The Lord Has Forgotten, and 3. Without Fear On Judgment Day.
Jesus tells his disciples that they should not be surprised by the way that they will be treated. He said, “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” (Verses 24-25) ‘Look at the way that they treated me,’ Jesus said. If they treated him this way, could we expect any less? They even slandered him and said that, when he did his miracles, he was using the power of the devil to do them. Surely, we should expect slanderous remarks about us, as well.
Rather than demoralizing the apostles, this announcement would give them a reason to feel honored. What student wouldn’t want to be treated like his teacher or a servant like the master? This is something to remember when we are being mistreated, meeting with opposition, or suffering persecution. We are being treated no differently than Jesus was. Rather than finding shame in it, we can look at it as an honor. We can find comfort and satisfaction in this fact.
That is why Jesus continues, “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Verses 26-27) Do not be afraid of these people who will say horrible things about you, as you stick to the pure truth of God’s Word. There are many things that God’s Word proclaims that the world does not want to hear. God’s Word says that there definitely are things that are right and there are things that are wrong. The world likes to think that there are various shades of grey. What is right for you might not be right for me, but that’s OK. We can all get along. The Bible tells us that there is but one way to heaven. The world would rather think that all religions ultimately will get you in the same place. When we stick up for the truth, there will be mistreatment. People will not agree with or like what we have to say. Regardless, Jesus tells us not to be afraid of them. Rather, we are to proclaim from the rooftops and in broad daylight what he has taught us in his Word.
However, what if the mistreatment goes further than verbal abuse? What if my health or my life is threatened? By God’s grace, that is not the case, at this moment in our country’s history. However, when you listen to the news, you know that people are being physically harmed for being Christians. Some have lost their lives. What if it comes to this extreme? This type of thinking focuses on the here and now and loses its sight of what is of greater importance, the hereafter. It causes an individual to hold back on their service to the Lord, to refrain from giving their all for Christ. The fear is that if we give him our all, there will be nothing left for us. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Verse 28) The enemies of the cross only have so much power to hurt the body, nothing more, and then only if our heavenly Father wills it. In other words, the enemies of Christ can only do so much. Yes, they may take our lives. However, they have no power over our eternity. Only the Lord has the power to judge and condemn the body and the soul, not mankind, not even the devil. If it should be that we lose our lives for the sake of the gospel, we know that we will be in heaven. For that reason, there is no need to fear those who oppose the gospel. Let us continue to confidently proclaim Christ to the world.
Sometimes, as we proclaim Christ, it might seem to us as though we are on our own. We are facing these battles and mistreatment and it almost seems too much for us. Jesus reassures us with these words, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Verses 29-31) Jesus points out the sparrows to his disciples. We have all seen them flying around, and probably give them little thought. Yet, Jesus tells us, not one of these seemingly insignificant creatures loses its life without the knowledge and consent of their Creator. He also points to the hairs on our heads. We do not usually give much thought to our hair. We try to make it look nice. We get it cut, but other than that, it does not cross our minds, that much. Yet, something that is so insignificant to us is a concern to our Father.
Certainly, if God’s providence extends over these lesser things in his creation, it will extend to the crown of his creation, namely, mankind. So, as Jesus’ disciples go out, proclaiming Christ, we can confidently expect that God, who cares for and protects the sparrows, will also care for, and protect us. God does not just send us on our own out into the world with his message. He continues to guard and protect us. He has not forgotten us. Therefore, we do not need to be afraid as we confidently proclaim Christ to the world.
As a further word of encouragement, Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” (Verse 32) Jesus continues to battle the fear of speaking out for him by pointing us to the reward that comes to those who overcome fear. To be sure, a bold confession will cost the confessor. He may even lose his life. However, to those who are willing to pay the price, a promise is made. On the Last Day, Jesus will acknowledge them as his own. He will stand with us on the Last Day and announce, not only to his Father, but to the entire world, that we were followers of him. Through the faith that was created in our hearts, we have been saved. Because of this, we boldly confessed him before others. On that day, we will see that it was all worth it. Though the strength that God gives, we faithfully proclaimed his name before others and receive the gift of eternal life that Jesus won for us.
However, Jesus also adds, “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Verse 33) If any person is led by the opposition in the world to disown Jesus, Jesus will disown him before his Father. Such a person is showing a lack of faith and, by his denial, has already cut himself off from the grace of God. On the Last Day, Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you.”
The fact remains that every Christian has been called upon to be a witness for Jesus. To be a witness is a serious matter because, as we read in these last two verses, the Lord’s attitude will correspond exactly with our attitude toward him in this world.
It is this fact that gives me pause, because I know that I have not always willingly confessed Jesus before the world. There have been times that I have kept quiet when I had the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. I did not want to stick out. I did not want people to think that I was some kind of religious fanatic. I wanted them to like me, so I did not tell them that what they were doing was wrong. I have let fear keep me from confidently confessing Christ before others. I do not believe that I am alone in that confession. For this lack of confessing Jesus before the world, we should be denied by Jesus before his Father in heaven.
How wonderful it is to know that Jesus came to the earth to pay for this sin, as well. By his life, death, and resurrection, he did everything necessary so that I could be forgiven. He loved me enough to share this wonderful news with me. By God’s grace, someone confessed, told me about Jesus and the Holy Spirit created that faith in my heart that knows that Jesus is my Savior. Now, we are called to be Jesus’ witnesses to those around us. This news is too wonderful to keep to ourselves. People are so anxious to share good news with others. They tell about a good grade, or an engagement, or the birth of a baby. As wonderful as those announcements are, they pale in comparison with the greatest news that we have ever been told. Jesus Christ is our Savior from sin. We have heaven to look forward to. This gift is available to all. May God help us to be confident proclaimers of his message of salvation, of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Being a witness for Jesus will not always be fun. As Jesus reminded us this morning, there will be hardships that will accompany it. Again, look at the way they treated Jesus. However, it is a task that we take gladly. We know that we have been saved for all eternity. We know that no matter how much the world may snarl and growl and bite at us, it can only last so long. Compared to eternity, what is this life? Who would let the abuse of people keep them from obtaining the glorious reward that comes from being faithful? This is the promise that Jesus gives to his disciples of then and now. He said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Verse 22) The promise is repeated in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Because we know that we have this waiting for us, we need not fear what the world may do or say. We can continue to confidently confess Christ until he takes us home to himself. Amen.
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