Continuing on in our study of Matthew’s gospel, we reach chapter 10 in which Jesus begins equipping His newly found disciples with instructions, warnings and encouragements concerning their ministry from here on out.
In chapter 9 we left off with Jesus talking to His disciples about the importance of reaching people with His message who need and want God.
Now in chapter 10, Jesus equips the disciples to do so.
In verse 1, Jesus gathers His disciples together. He starts by empowering them with the same power He has. He empowers them with His own authority that comes from God to be able to cast out demons and heal diseases.
This is very significant that He gives the disciples His own authority. It’s like a transfer or a transfusion of authority. And it comes straight from God. This is significant because many other false prophets and false messiahs went around during this time healing people and performing miracles. But the key difference is that they were not performing those acts by God’s authority. Rather, it was demonic power at work. Satanic authority. These false disciples did everything in their own name to bring themselves glory. But now, Jesus’ disciples will carry out all of these powers in God’s name, not their own name. And others will see God because of it. We will see how this leads people to belief in God and furthers evangelism.
Matthew gives us a list of all Jesus’ disciples in verses 2-4, performing his duty as a trusty author and providing the new characters in this story.
In verse 5 and following down to verse 42, Jesus continues equipping His 12 disciples with all they need for what they are going to be doing now as His followers.
In verses 6-15, Jesus equips His disciples in their approach by instructing them only to go to “the lost sheep of Israel” and not to the Gentiles or Samaritans.
Some may read this verse and assume that Jesus didn’t care about the Gentiles or the Samaritans.
But there is something else going on here.
Jesus sends them to Israel first because God has set it up like this: Jesus can only save the Gentiles, or other nations, through Israel. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, the one that Israel has been waiting for since Genesis 3:15, which says that the promised Son would come to fix the problem of sin and death in the world that was initiated in the garden of Eden through the sin of Adam and Eve. So Jesus has to take His message to the Jews first. Why? So that the Jews will reject Him and end up killing Him. God needs for Israel to reject and kill Jesus all for the sake of Jesus sacrificing Himself for the sins of both the Jews and the people of the whole world.
As we progress further in Matthew’s gospel we will see this play out. Then the Gentiles will be the next group that the disciples are instructed to reach in chapter 28 and that will continue into the book of Acts.
In verses 16-25, Jesus equips His disciples’ expectations by preparing them with the reality that persecution is inescapable.
Jesus says they will be like “sheep in the midst of wolves” so He exhorts them to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” in verse 16.
This duality of wisdom and innocence is Jesus’ only advice for them in their vulnerability.
That really sticks out to me. Jesus could have given them any kind of advice that He wanted to. He knows that they are going to face threats, danger and harm as they go out to preach and perform miracles. Yet He simply tells them to be wise and innocent. This mirrors Jesus’ own heart of meekness and gentleness as He always embraces a posture of humility in the way that He interacts with other people, even in potential dangerous situations.
He doesn’t tell them to be defensive and overbearing with those that will try to persecute them. Yet He knows that they will face danger.
Jesus says “you will be dragged before governors and kings for My sake…brother will deliver brother over to death…children will rise against parents and have them put to death…you will be hated by all for my names’ sake…when they persecute in one town, flee to the next…” (selections from verses 18-23).
It is astounding to me that Jesus doesn’t equip His disciples with more defense strategies for the danger they are going to face. Rather, He expects them to remain as “sheep.” He doesn’t tell them to change who they are and try to be “like bears in the midst of wolves.” He knows they are like sheep and He is okay with that. He wants that.
Jesus wants them to practice wisdom and innocence in threatening situations.
He cares about their posture of humility with an enemy more than their protection from the enemy’s persecution.
Humility over protection.
Heart purity over physical safety.
This goes back to chapter 5 where Jesus talked about the significance of the purity of the heart. Wow. I love how Jesus remains so consistent in His theology. And Matthew does a great job by including this in the narrative so that we as the readers can make this connection. Jesus cares about the heart more than anything else and He makes sure that He equips His disciples with what He would require from a pure heart. Wisdom and innocence. Jesus really is beautiful. He is unlike anything else. How powerful is this passage.
In verses 26-33, Jesus equips His disciples in their minds by encouraging them that there is no reason to fear.
Jesus’ reassurance that God is sovereign and that “nothing is covered that will not be revealed” in verse 26 encourages the disciples that even when they do face threatening situations, God still sees their situation and will not forget them.
Jesus also reminds the disciples that mortal man does not have the ability to kill the soul. He says, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both the body and the soul in hell.” Jesus reminds His disciples that fearing man is the wrong kind of fear. They can’t fear man because man has no power over them ultimately. God is the only one with the power over a soul.
Jesus wants His disciples to be confident in this so that they will not be defeated by fear when they start to face intense persecutions.
At this point, if I was a disciple, I would be getting a little overwhelmed by all Jesus is preparing me for!
I wouldn’t feel ready for the job of being sent out to preach the message to Israel knowing I’m going to be persecuted and face all kinds of threats that Jesus is forewarning about.
But Jesus is so kind and comforting.
He is aware of this potential subconscious fear.
And he handles it.
Jesus tells them that ultimately, their acceptance before Him and before God only depends on 1 thing and it’s not their ability to succeed in all Jesus is asking. Not at all.
It’s this: acknowledging Jesus before men.
If the disciples acknowledge Jesus, then Jesus will acknowledge them before God.
They don’t have to worry about their performance in trying to make sure they please Jesus in accomplishing all of this. They just need to acknowledge Jesus as Lord as He tells them in verses 32-33. And they will be safe. They don’t have to fear. They will be known by Jesus and Jesus will make them known before God. This probably took a lot of pressure off of the disciples to feel like they had to be perfect in accomplishing Jesus’ mission. Jesus is so smart in how He helps them to not fear. He doesn’t just tell them not to fear. He gives them a pretty dang good reason why they don’t need to fear. And this is so good. Jesus is so caring.
In verses 34-39, Jesus equips His disciples by declaring the inevitable reality of disorder and strife as a result of this mission of God.
Now that Jesus has finally come on the scene declaring that the kingdom of God is at hand and that God is about to do something big, there is going to be a lot of push-back in the story from those who don’t want Jesus or God.
A lot of opposition.
A lot of resistance.
All from the enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want God to do what he knows is coming.
Satan knows it. And He will try to breed strife and disunity among people while God is in the process of birthing redemption through Jesus.
We will see this take place in Matthew’s gospel, but we also see this taking place in every other book in the Bible and in our world today. Satan has been allowed to rule here until Jesus finally comes back again to put him away for good. But that’s for another study.
Yet, Jesus encourages His disciples to not be like all these people who proliferate strife. He says, “whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of me.” This is powerful. I’ve never understood this verse more clearly than I do now in this passage context… Why did Jesus just tell us that there will be strife between people, even among family members and then he immediately changes the subject and says you must take up your cross? Wait, what? Why? Well, this correlation has become so clear now. I just love it! Even though it’s not easy to do, but what He’s saying is so good…
So what Jesus is trying to get us to see is that people cause strife when they are selfishly wanting their own way and disagreeing over things, (i.e. belief in following God). So if someone disagrees with another and causes strife, they are not taking up their cross but are rather holding on to their own will and their own self-independence – both of which Jesus requires us to give up, for His sake. Jesus says that such a person is “not worthy” of Him and they will actually “lose their life” by trying to hold onto it. Peace will not be accessible to the person who tries to maintain their own autonomy. It will be a lifeless, miserable existence.
Jesus just conveyed why it is important to take up our cross, or the discomfort of denying ourselves our own will and desires, so that we might actually find life in Him.
This requires trust obviously because it won’t happen overnight. But Jesus is trying to get His disciples to see the benefits of following Him and laying down their own lives. God will be the One to give them life that is meaningful and joyful since He is the One in charge and has all the resources.
Dang. Jesus is freaking smart in His verbal and logical persuasion.
In verses 40-42, Jesus equips His disciples by reminding them that God will reward those who welcome them.
This is an encouragement because if the disciples know that God is on alert to bless those who are welcoming them, they can rest assured that God sees them and will provide people for them along their journey.
Jesus also wants His disciples to remember that being sent out to Israel is going to be a collaborative effort.
His mission to preach and heal and seek out the lost sheep of Israel not only requires the obedience of His disciples, but also the obedience of others to join in this cause with God. Jesus is all about collaboration and utilizing resources to accomplish His purposes, while seeking to impact as many people as possible – both the people that He is seeking out and the people that are joining in this mission with Him and His disciples through giving, hospitality, prayer, and encouragement. And Jesus promises that they will be rewarded for all they contribute in God’s mission.
As we end chapter 10 of Matthew’s gospel, we can look back and see how Jesus is preparing His disciples for something big.
They are the ones that Jesus has chosen to assist Him in initiating God’s plan for redemption in the world, and that can only happen if Jesus and His disciples seek out Israel first in order that Jesus will be rejected and killed by Israel, His own people.
We will keep reading to see what happens next in chapter 11 after Jesus is finished talking with His disciples. In chapter 11, we will run into John the Baptist again, the one we read about in chapter 2. Until then, may we learn more about Christ in Matthew’s gospel and fall more in love with our beautiful Savior, appreciating the scriptures we have now to learn more about Him.
Summary of Matthew 10
Jesus gathers His 12 disciples together; Jesus begins to equip His disciples for the work that He has for them to do in being sent out to the lost people of Israel; Jesus equips His disciples by preparing them for persecution, encouraging them not to fear; reminding them that strife and disorder is unavoidable, yet God is in control and He will reward those who join with Him in His mission of the world’s redemption through Jesus.
Jesus in Matthew 10
Jesus gathers his 12 disciples over to him (v. 1)
Jesus equips His disciples for what He is about to send them to do (v. 1)
Jesus is intentional (v. 1)
Jesus always equips before He sends (v. 1)
Jesus gives His 12 disciples authority over unclean spirts (v. 1)
Jesus gives His 12 disciples authority to cast out unclean spirits (v. 1)
Jesus gives His 12 disciples authority to heal every disease and affliction (v. 1)
Jesus transfuses to the disciples His own authority from God (v. 1)
Jesus is going to send out His 12 disciples (v. 5)
Jesus instructs His disciples before He sends them (v. 5)
Jesus is a good leader (v. 5)
Jesus is a preparer (v. 5)
Jesus tells them to not to go the gentiles or the Samaritans (v. 5)
Jesus tells them to only go to the lost sheep of Israel (v. 6)
Jesus must go to Israel before He can reach the Gentiles (v. 6)
Jesus tells them what He wants them to say (v. 7)
Jesus tells them to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (v. 7)
Jesus tells them to heal the sick (v. 8)
Jesus tells them to raise the dead (v. 8)
Jesus tells them to cleanse the lepers (v. 8)
Jesus tells them to cast out demons (v. 8)
Jesus is confident in His disciples (v. 8)
Jesus instructs them to give and not expect pay (v. 8)
Jesus is selfless (v. 8)
Jesus doesn’t seek gain for Himself (v. 8)
Jesus wants his disciples to do likewise (v. 8)
Jesus commands them to not receive gold or silver or copper for themselves (v. 9)
Jesus commands them not to take a bag for their journey or clothes (v. 10)
Jesus encourages them to work for their food (v. 10)
Jesus instructs them to find a worthy person in the town or village they visit and stay there (v. 11)
Jesus instructs them to enter the house and greet it (v. 12)
Jesus instructs them to bless the house if it is worthy and to not bless it if it is not worthy (v. 13)
Jesus tells them that if anyone will not receive them to forget about it (v. 15)
Jesus talks of the day of judgement (v. 15)
Jesus keeps the future in mind (v. 15)
Jesus reminds them that God will avenge (v. 15)
Jesus informs them that he is sending them out like sheep among wolves (v. 16)
Jesus knows the danger (v. 16)
Jesus doesn’t try to coddle them (v. 16)
Jesus doesn’t give them defense strategies either (v. 16)
Jesus tells them to be wise as serpents (v. 16)
Jesus tells them to be innocent as doves (v. 16)
Jesus gives simple yet powerful advice in how to handle persecution (v. 16)
Jesus warns (v. 17)
Jesus know how they will be treated by men because of Him (v. 17-18)
Jesus lets his disciples know what is coming (v. 17-18)
Jesus tells them to not be anxious about what to say when assaulted (v. 19)
Jesus comforts them that they will be given by the Holy Spirit what to say in that moment (v. 19)
Jesus always redirects them back to trust in God (v. 19)
Jesus warns of household division (v. 21)
Jesus warns that they will be hated because of His name (v. 22)
Jesus promises them that they will be saved in the end if they endure (v. 22)
Jesus instructs them to flee to the next town when persecuted (v. 23)
Jesus needs them to remain alive so that God’s will can be carried out in full (v. 23)
Jesus also has to remain alive until the proper time He will be crucified (v. 23)
Jesus teaches hierarchy and servanthood (v. 24)
Jesus encourages them to not fear those who persecute them (v. 26)
Jesus comforts (v. 26)
Jesus promises that evil actions will be exposed eventually (v. 26)
Jesus instructs them to preach widely these teachings that He’s telling them (v. 27)
Jesus wants them to partner with them in sharing His message (v. 27)
Jesus encourages them to not fear those who try to harm them (v. 28)
Jesus reminds them that mortal man cannot kill their souls (v. 28)
Jesus exhorts them to fear the One who can kill the soul and the body in hell (v. 28)
Jesus reminds them that God is in control of all (v. 28)
Jesus shows them how God is in charge of every small detail that happens in the world (v. 29)
Jesus tells them God knows the number of hairs on each one’s head (v. 30)
Jesus reveals God’s intimate knowledge of all people individually (v. 30)
Jesus tells them to not fear (v. 31)
Jesus conveys to them that they are more precious than sparrows (v. 31)
Jesus knows people (v. 31)
Jesus cares about people (v. 31)
Jesus teaches that He will acknowledge before God the Father those who acknowledge Him here on earth (v. 32)
Jesus reminds His disciples that their performance is not what’s most important but rather their acknowledgement of Jesus as God before men (v. 32)
Jesus needs His disciples to understand this before they can be sent out (v. 32)
Jesus locates God the Father as being in Heaven (v. 32)
Jesus teaches that He will deny those who deny Him (v. 33)
Jesus is straight-forward (v. 32-33)
Jesus is not confusing (v. 32-33)
Jesus is not just about bringing “peace” (v. 34)
Jesus brings a “sword” (v. 34)
Jesus causes families to be divided because some will choose to follow Him and others will deny Him, even within the same household (v. 35-36)
Jesus causes division (v. 35-36)
Jesus is polarizing (v. 35-36)
Jesus brings out the true heart in people, whether for Him or against Him (v. 36)
Jesus teaches that those who love their family members more than Him is not a true follower of Him (v. 37)
Jesus expects 100% devotion (v. 37)
Jesus expects 100% of our love (v. 37)
Jesus wants to be priority in our lives (v. 37)
Jesus declares that a person is not worthy of the love He would give them if He is not his or her first love (v. 37)
Jesus instructs them to take up their cross and follow Him (v. 38)
Jesus tells them that anyone not willing to do this is not worthy of Him (v. 38)
Jesus plainly tells them that whoever gives up his own life to follow Him will find it (v. 39)
Jesus plainly tells them that whoever keeps his life for himself will lose it (v. 39)
Jesus brings people to a point of decision (v. 39)
Jesus is not satisfied with half-heartedness (v. 39)
Jesus expects us to choose one way or the other if we are going to follow Him or not (v. 39)
Jesus is serious (v. 39)
Jesus is blunt (v. 39)
Jesus requires sacrifice of our own lives (v. 39)
Jesus expects a lot (v. 39)
Jesus wants to give us freedom and life and this can only happen when we belong to Him completely (v. 39)
Jesus encourages the disciples that those who welcome them also welcome Him (v. 40)
Jesus encourages them that those who welcome them also welcome God (v. 40)
Jesus’ reception by others reveals if those others are followers of God or not (v. 40)
Jesus promises that those who welcome others for who they are to God will be rewarded for it (v. 41)
Jesus promises that those who see even small children and meet their need will be rewarded (v. 41)
Jesus notices people (v. 41)
Jesus wants us to also notice people (v. 41)
Jesus rewards those who notice and care for people (v. 41)
Jesus is generous (v. 41)
“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me and whoever loves son
or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me…
whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
-Matthew 10:37 & 39-
Questions for Today:
- Why does Jesus equip the disciples in this passage?
- What is He preparing them for?
- What are the two things Jesus tells His disciples they need when they face persecution?
- Why is this significant?
- Is the disciples’ performance more important to Jesus or their acknowledgement of Him as God?
- What does Jesus promise the disciples if they take up their cross and lose their life to follow Him?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?
“The Wondrous Cross” by Christy Nockels