I love Matthew Chapter 10. Why? Because it has insights into how Jesus ran His ministry while on earth. Let's see what insights we can find.
1. In Verse one, Jesus gives His disciples authority to cast out evil spirits and heal all manner of sickness and disease. Jesus mentored His disciples to go and do ministry in a way most of us would never consider. In fact, we don’t usually talk about casting out evil and healing all manner of diseases. I find that these young men who were following Jesus never would in their wildest dreams ever think they would be given authority to do such activity. Yet, Jesus told them to go and do it. In fact, in Verse 8, Jesus adds raising the dead and cleansing the lepers to their ministry tasks.
2. In Verses 11-15, Jesus gives instructions on how to do ministry on location. Look for a worthy, open family to stay with, and if you can’t find one, don’t waste your time trying to convince them … they just aren’t ready, so move on to someone who is ready to receive the ministry of the Lord. I have always said that Christianity isn't safe, and so far, you can see why, right? Today, most Christians would call this ministry of His disciples as fanatical and full of emotionalism, and completely un-Biblical. But wait! Jesus wasn't done.
3. He then tells these disciples that the world they are going into to do this kind of ministry is full of wolves … angry, abusive people who will not understand their motives or results. Jesus said to beware of them, and don't fear them, but to be aware they are wolves. (Wolves hunt in packs and attack in groups.)
4. Then Jesus gets personal. He tells them that they will be betrayed by the closest relationships in their lives … their families. Relatives can be the most negative and critical people when it comes to ministry that borders on the fanatical. If that isn’t the worst, then Jesus said that His disciples will all be hated by the world and some will be put to death. Okay, makes you want to beeline it to sign up, right?
5. Then, Jesus gives them a ray of hope by telling them that the only one to fear is God because He has the power to put someone in hell. Well, that was a statement to remember. Today, we might think about how Jesus could have used some advertising advice. This is not how you promote a new movement! However, Jesus was not about spin. He wanted His disciples to know there was some serious stuff to consider when choosing to become His disciple.
6. Jesus wasn’t about being safe. He says he didn’t come to bring peace to the earth … rather He came to bring division. Jesus came to put God first in our lives. He came to separate people from their idols, their habits, their possessions, and their sins. If anyone doesn’t pick up and live out the message of sacrifice, of consecration to God … all symbolized by the Cross, they are not worthy to be His disciple. End of story. Not an easy read, is it? Therefore, I say, “Christianity is not safe!” Going to church may feel safe to you, but you get a different view of what Christianity is as you study this chapter.
7. Matthew 10 gives you a glimpse into how powerful the ministry of Christianity really is, how hated it will become, and how much division is created because of living it out. Picking up your cross means you will have both the power of it and you will suffer because of it. Jesus made it clear. If you live for yourself, you will lose your life, but if you lose your life and live for Him, you will find it.
We like to make Christianity a safe message … it is not, it has never been safe. How can it be safe? Jesus was crucified for being a perfect man, whose life’s work was to teach truth and heal people. Yet, we all know that His sacrifice was not in vain … it was purposed by God to bring an eternal solution to the problem of human sin. No doubt that sin will fight back and try to make Christianity something it is not. Too often, many churches fall for this deception. They allow for behavior that is contrary to God’s word and is condemned by Him. One thing is for certain they are not churches that represent God. Remember Jesus is the head of the Church, and His message that was recorded here in Matthew 10 has not changed. What has changed is the church. We have made Christianity safe, and as a result, we have failed to be the kind of ministry He sent the disciples out to do. Nothing changes with God … nothing. No one can say that was then, and today it is different. No, nothing changes with God because what He told His disciples then is the same message He tells His disciples today.
So, what has changed? Us. We have created an environment that does not confront the evil in our day because we don’t want to offend anyone. Nor do we practice the healing of the sick or cleanse the lepers. Why? This is a great question! One answer may be that we follow the path of least resistance … a path that keeps everything under the radar. After all, we don’t want to be known as the ‘radical fringe.’ However, faith is radical by nature because it believes in God more than it does in the reality of mankind. Remember, it is impossible to please God without faith. Living by faith will not be a safe practice in this world of wolves but it is worth it. Pleasing God by your faith and practice is where you will find your life.
Hebrews 11:6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler