Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Matthew 10:24-39


Here we come to the "fine print" of discipleship! These are the toughest words about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. This is boot camp, pure and simple! The drill sergeant is Jesus.

I see this section as revolving around one question-"Who controls your life?"

1. Does fear control your life? 24 ``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. 27 ``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 prophet Micah spoke of this in His day: Micah 7:6 - For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.

The Jewish Talmud (commentary on the Scriptures) connects such family disloyalty to the time of Messiah: (Soncino Talmud 49b) - In the footsteps of the messiah, insolence will increase and honor dwindle; the vine will yield its fruit [abundantly] but wine will be dear; the government will turn to heresy and there will be none [to offer them] reproof; the meeting-place [of scholars] will be used for immorality; Galilee will be destroyed, Gablan desolated, and the dwellers on the frontier will go about [begging] from place to place without anyone to take pity on them; the wisdom of the learned will degenerate, fearers of sin will be despised, and the truth will be lacking; youths will put old men to shame, the old will stand up in the presence of the young, a son will revile his father, a daughter will rise against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be the members of his household; the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, a son will not feel ashamed before his father. So upon whom is it for us to rely? Upon our father who is in heaven.

This is an amazing observation from the Jewish point of view! YOU ONLY HAVE THE GOD OF GODS WHO CARES MOST FOR YOU TO FEAR!

2. Does your lifestyle control you? 32 ``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.

To confess is literally to "say the same thing" about something. Here it is to confess Jesus-to say the same things as Jesus-to love, think, act and live like Jesus throughout your life. Your lifestyle is all about your identification with Jesus!


3. Do your family members and friends control you? 34 ``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. 37 ``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.


4. Does owning and directing your own life control you? 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.

Here we are back to a familiar issue-TRUST. Am I willing to lose my life-dreams, aspirations, comforts, in order to find my life in Jesus? We're back to "ruthless trust" as Brennan Manning defines it. It's coming to the understanding that we are created to be dependent people. If we place our dependence upon our Creator, then we will experience the most fulfilling life we could ever live. Everything works best when we are plugged into the original intent of our lives-to be like Jesus!


Matthew 10:26-33


REMEMBER, this is a special time in history in which you have the long-awaited presence of Messiah Jesus, filled with the Spirit, approved by the Father, bearing direct witness to the people of Israel. The Messiah was being presented to the Jewish people as the One Who was promised. They only had a prophecy and a promise before (Sodom and Gomorrah), but now is the real deal.

The ancient Jewish writings about the time of the Messiah all included this thinking of difficult times-persecution, division of friends and family-all over a person's response to this powerful, personal witness. Jesus warns this first round of direct witnesses what they will face and what they must do. [I personally believe that this same context of trouble and therefore the same required response from His disciples will happen again just prior to the Messiah's return.]

16 ``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.

We are to be as "shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves". "Shrewd" has the idea of a wisdom that sees through all that might be deceptive. "Harmless" is a unique word meaning to be unmixed, pure as with metal or wine-no mixture of deviousness. This is the same term Paul uses in his letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 2:12-16 - Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.

I love the balance! We are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling"-work out into your behavior the salvation that is in your heart. But he doesn't leave you all on your own. "For it is God which is at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." So, be "harmless", unmixed, pure and single-minded as you can be as you walk among the people who respond poorly or negatively to the presence of Messiah Jesus. "Shine as lights in the world" of darkness, "holding forth the word of life".

NOTE that Jesus says not to worry about what you will say when dragged into a difficult situation, but the Spirit of your Father will give you what you must say, when you need it. I am finding this to be a more useful principle than I had thought. I think I have prepared too much many times what I am going to say and not relied upon the Spirit of my Father to "speak in me." And as I have been practicing this principle, the words that I have been speaking are so powerful, appropriate, timely and pointed at the need of the moment!

21 ``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.

You may not have experienced a great physical persecution, but there will be a sorts of verbal persecution and false accusations against you. This will be found among those who are followers of the Messiah to discredit the witness of His existence and presence.

The intent here is that all of Israel will be faced with the witness of the longed-for Messiah by the time He would be clearly revealed to them. This is why Jesus sent these disciples only to the house of Israel in this opening mission. All others will come later, as we will see.

Salvation is not seen as a one-time, fix and you're in! Although I believe that your salvation is secure, I also know that there are situations where people turn away from God, never to return to Him. This is not a fear tactic, but a proof of genuineness. Salvation does not come to you so much because of your faith, but because of His grace-undeserved favor from God. No one will get into heaven except through the grace of God. Jesus wants us to be faithful in our response to this great grace.

Matthew 10:5-15


Picture yourself sitting in a room with Jesus as He gives you the following instructions. NOTE what His instructions are:

5 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. 1. Jesus gives His disciples clear direction as to their ministry target-the house of Israel.

7 ``And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 2. Jesus wants you to communicate the principles of the presence of the kingdom.

8 ``Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. 3. Jesus gives authority and power to make a supernatural difference in the lives of those who are hurting-the sick, the dead and dying, lepers and freeing those bound by evil spirits.

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. 4. Jesus wants you to have no agenda whatsoever, but to give of yourself freely. Don't look to get rich by doing the ministry of the kingdom. You will be taken care of while freely giving of yourself in ministering to those hurting around you.

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. 5. Jesus wants His disciples to be channels of His peace.

6. Jesus only requires one thing-that people be interested!

You, as a disciple of Jesus, are to be empowered by Jesus Himself. Proclaim the presence of the kingdom. Bring a healing touch to the hurting. Freely serve everyone, everywhere with the peace of Jesus--only to those who are interested!

Matthew 10:1-4


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.

2 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.

Here they are, the motley crew Jesus called to be with Him. There are three sets of brothers, fishermen, a tax collector, two men who were called the "sons of thunder" and a radical zealot. All of these men had been rabbinical rejects, not selected by any rabbi to continue in religious education and therefore sent back home to take up the profession of their families. And now, these men have been personally selected to follow in the steps of Rabbi Jesus. These men give each of us hope!

This chapter gives us some terrific insight into the beginnings of the Jesus movement. This summoning triggers a line in my thinking. "Leaders are not made or born, but summoned." Jesus summoned these unlikely men into leadership that would change the world! Note what happened a few years later, when a couple of these leaders were on their own.

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. Acts 4:13-14

NOTE 4 things. 1-These men were unlikely people-uneducated and untrained. 2-These men were unusually amazing and attractive to the people. 3-These men had been hanging out with Jesus and it was noticeable. 4-These men were instrumental (used by God) in bringing about supernatural healing.

The fact that the lame man was really healed shut the mouths of their potential critics. I call this the "lame man principle". I'm learning that the most important evidence that draws people to consider Jesus has to do with the "lame men" in my life. Who are the broken, hurting, addicted and damaged people in my life that I have been summoned by Jesus to touch with His healing? And where are they? How are they doing? Do others see their healing? In other words, the only really important thing in life is how I get out of the way and introduce others to Jesus.

But enough about me. Where are the "lame men" in your life? How is it going?