MATTHEW 10:26-42 THE KING CHEERING HIS CHAMPIONS
26. Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
The King gives reasons for courage, saying, “Fear them not therefore. ” Have no fear of slander; your Lord and Master bore the full blast of that pitiless storm. Have no fear of misrepresentation, for the great God will right :-our characters before long. You and your traducers will alike be shown up in the colors of truth. Though you should be “covered ” with obloquy, your integrity shall be “revealed ”; though your true value is “hid”, it shall yet be “known. ” Secret villainy and secret virtue will alike be set in the full blaze of day. Anticipate the future, and be not overwhelmed by the present.
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.
God is the great revealer, and, you should imitate him by publishing the truth to men. Go on, true believers, with your proper work, as mouths for God. Tell out what your Master tells you. Receive a message from himself in your quiet meditation, and then make it known everywhere. Hear it like a whisper in your ear, and then sound it forth as the eastern town-crier, who gets to the highest point in the village, and makes all the people hear from “the housetops. ” Keep the study and the closet out of sight, and there in secret meet with Jesus; and then set the pulpit of testimony in as conspicuous a place as you can find. If plunged “in darkness ” of sickness, trouble, or distress, listen to him whose voice is heard in the thick darkness, and then “speak ye in light ” the profitable lessons ye have learned.
Lord, let no one of us speak till thou speakest to him, and then let him not be silent. May all thy disciples present to thee their opened ears, and then use in thy cause their fire-touched tongues!
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.
This, following upon the former verse, forbids us to forbear our testimony from fear of men. We may not say less or more because of the opposition of the foe. A mighty argument against fear is the comparative weakness of the enemy. Men can only wound our inferior part, the body, but are not able to kill the soul . But if we disobey God, the Supreme Lord of life and death has power even to destroy both parts of our being by casting them both into the death and darkness of Gehenna, or hell. Let us fear the Greater, and we shall not fear the less. There is no cure for the fear of man like the fear of God. 29-31. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Here is a sermon against fear, and sparrows are the text. Those birds are of little worth, and you are of far greater consideration than many of them.
God observes the death of a sparrow, and he much more notes the lives and deaths of his people. Even the least part of his children’s bodily frame has been registered. The very hairs of their head are counted and catalogued; and, to the most minute circumstance, all their lives are under the arrangement of the Lord of love. Chance is not in our creed: the decree of the Eternal Watcher rules our destiny, and love is seen in every line of that decree.
Since we shall not suffer harm at the hand of men by their arbitrary conduct, apart from the will and permission of our Father, let us be ready to bear with holy courage whatever the wrath of man may bring upon us.
God will not waste the life of one of his soldiers; no, nor a hair of his head.
If we die in God’s battle we live in the grandest sense, for by loss of life we gain life.
32, 33. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Because divine providence rules over all, the destiny of believers is secure beyond fear of harm, and they must not shrink from the boldest avowal of their faith because of anxiety to preserve their lives. Our business is to confess Christ before men. In him the truth we acknowledge begins, centers, and ends. Our Confession of Faith is a confession of Christ: he is our theology, or Word of God. What a joy to confess him now! What a reward to be confessed by him hereafter in the glory-world! It will be a high offense against the great God, whom Jesus twice calls “my Father which is in heaven ”, if we fail to confess his Son on earth.
It is clear that in this passage to “deny” Jesus means,—not to confess him.
What a grave warning is this for the cowardly believer! Can a nonconfessing faith save? To live and die without confessing Christ before men is to run an awful risk. Actually to recant and give up Christ must be a dreadful crime, and the penalty is fearful to contemplate. Disowned by Jesus before his Father who is in heaven! What hell can be worse?
Lord, let me never blush to own thee in all companies! Work in me a bold spirit by thy Holy Spirit. Let me confess thy truth whatever the spirit of the age may be, uphold thy church when she is most despised, obey thy precepts when they cost most dear, and glory in thy name when it is most reproached. 34-36. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 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. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
Peace will be the ultimate issue of our Lord’s coming; but, at the first, the Lord Jesus sends a sword among men. He wars against war, and contends against contention. In the act of producing the pence of heaven he arouses the rage of hell. Truth provokes opposition, purity excites enmity, and righteousness arouses all the forces of wrong.
During the process of fermentation, in which the right works for mastery, natural relationships go for nothing as preservatives of peace. The coming of Christ into a house is often the cause of variance between the converted and the unconverted. The more loving the Christian is, the more he may be opposed: love creates a tender zeal for the salvation of friends, and that very zeal frequently calls forth resentment. We are to expect this, and not to be put about by it when it occurs. Animosities on account of religion often excite the fiercest of enmities, and nearness of kin inflames rather than quenches the hostility. We are to press on in confessing the Lord Jesus, come what may of it. Even if our house becomes a den of lions to us, we must stand up for our Lord. The peace-at-any-price people have no portion in this kingdom.
Lord, teach us how to behave in these trying circumstances.
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.
Christ must be first. He herein claims the highest place in every human breast. Could he have done so had he not been divine? No mere prophet would talk in this fashion. Yet we are not sensible of the slightest egotism in his speech, neither does it occur to us that he goes beyond his line. We are conscious that the Son of God has a right to speak thus, and only he.
We must earnestly beware of making idols of our dearest ones, by loving them more than Jesus. We must never set them near the throne of our King. We are not worthy to dwell with Christ above, nor even to be associated with him here, if any earthly object is judged by us to be worthy to rival the Lord Jesus.
Father and mother, son and daughter — we would do anything to please them; but, as opposed to Jesus, they stand nowhere, and cannot for an instant be allowed to come in the way of our supreme loyalty to our Lord.
38. And he that taketh, not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Here our Lord for the second time in this gospel brings in his death. At first he spoke of being taken from them; but now of the cross. There is a cross for each one which he may regard as “his cross. ” It may be that the cross will not take us up, but we must take it up, by being willing to endure anything or everything for Christ’s sake. We are not to drag the cross after us, but to take it up. “Dragged crosses are heavy; carried crosses grow light.” Bearing the cross, we are to follow after Jesus: to bear a cross without following Christ is a poor affair. A Christian who shuns the cross is no Christian; but a crossbearer who does not follow Jesus equally misses the mark. Is it not singular that nothing in so essential to make a man worthy of Christ as cross-bearing in his track? Yet it is assuredly so. Lord, thou hast laid a cross upon me, do not permit me to shirk it, or shrink from it.
39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
If to escape from death he gives up Christ, and so finds a continuance of this poor mortal life; by that very act he loses true life. He gains the temporal at the expense of the eternal. On the other hand, he who loses life for Christ’s sake does in the highest sense find life, life eternal, life infinitely blessed. He makes the wisest choice who lays down his life for Jesus, and finds life in Jesus.
40. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
What blessed union and hallowed communion exist between the King, and his servants! The words before us are especially true of the apostles to whom they were first addressed. Apostolic teaching is Christ’s teaching.
To receive the twelve is to receive their Lord Jesus, and to receive the Lord Jesus is to receive God himself. In these days certain teachers despise the epistles which were written by apostles, and they are themselves worthy to be despised for so doing. This is one of the sure tests of soundness in the faith. “He that is of God heareth us”, says John. This bears hard on modern critics who in a hypocritical manner pretend to receive Christ, and then reject his inspired apostles.
Lord, teach me to receive thy people into my heart, that thus I may receive thee; and as to the doctrine which I hold, be pleased to establish me in the apostolic faith.
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.
Men may receive a prophet as a patriot, or a poet: that is not the point in hand. The prophet must be received in his highest character, “in the name of a prophet ”, and for the sake of his Lord; and then the Lord himself is received, and he will reward the receiver in the same way in which his prophet is rewarded. If we cannot do all the good deeds of a righteous man, we can yet partake in his happiness by having fellowship with him, and by uniting with him in vindicating the faith and comforting his heart.
To receive into our homes and our hearts God’s persecuted servants is to share their reward. To maintain the cause and character of good men is to be numbered with them in God’s account. This is all of grace; since the deed is so little and the recompense so large.
42. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little once 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.
He looked away from the apostles to some of the least and youngest of those who followed him, end he declared that the very least kindness shown to them should have its recompense. There may be a sea of warm love in “a cup of cold water .” Much loyalty to the King may be expressed by little kindnesses to his servants, and perhaps more by kindness to the little ones among them than by friendship with the greater sort. To love a poor and despised child of God for Christ’s sake shows greater love to Christ than if we love the honorable, and amiable, and rich members of his church.
Acts of love are divinely estimated rather by motive than by measure. “A cup ”, and that “of cold water ”, may mean as much from one as banquet from another. Cold water has a special value in a hot climate; but this text makes it precious anywhere. Giving refreshment may be made a choice means of fellowship with holy men, if we give it because they are disciples; and specially so when persecuting governments make it penal to succor the saints in any way.
Though every kindly deed is its own reward, yet the Lord promises a further recompense. What we give for Christ’s sake is insured against loss by the promise of the text, by the “Verily, I say unto you ”, which confirms it, and by the use of the negative “in no wise ”, which shuts out all possibility of its being otherwise.