Matthew: First Mission: Jesus Calms His Disciples’ Fears

Memory Verse: Matthew 10:27

10:26-27 Don’t Fear Persecution, But Be Bold

  • 10:16-22 Persecution was imminent for Jesus’ twelve disciples as they are about to engage on their first mission: preaching the kingdom and performing miraculous works among the Jews. They were to expect persecution on this mission and missions to come. It would come from all angles: authorities, family and mankind in general. As they go about their missions, Jesus tells them to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”—which is a simple command for them to act properly in the face of persecution so that in the midst of it they will proclaim, glorify and fulfill God’s purposes. Now Jesus gives His disciples a threefold command not to fear—which is a natural response to the information they were just given.
  • 10:26a Therefore—because the disciples can expect the same type of persecution that their Master, Jesus, can expect—they are not to fear. Jesus has and will face the persecution without fear and His disciples are to follow suite. Persecution is not something to be feared but it is something to be endured because we are a follower of Jesus. It is a sign that we are His disciples. We are not to seek after persecution and agitate people to persecute us, but it will be a natural response to following Jesus and therefore we are no to be afraid of it. This doesn’t mean that you will be persecuted every day, for Jesus wasn’t even persecuted like that, but we can expect to received persecution when we engage in the same type of belief, proclamation and ministry that Jesus did. For every disciple of Jesus, their measure of persecution will be different, but you will experience some kind of persecution throughout your lifetime for following Jesus.
  • 10:26b Knowing that persecution is a natural response to following Jesus means that we don’t need to be afraid, because we also know that we will have the victory with Him. We share in His persecution but we also will share in His victory. Jesus tells His disciples that everything that is covered or hid—the enemy will try to cover up the truth and use secret or deceptive ways to oppose God’s work in this world—will be revealed or known—the truth will eventually be disclosed and the truth will prevail. Evil and deceit don’t like things to be made public, because they will be expose for their fraud, but the truth is strongest when it is made pubic and known to all. Therefore, this has two implications: (1) Believers live according to the future judgement when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to the gospel—we don’t live in fear of man’s judgments. (2) Believers have nothing to hide and should speak openly to the world—we don’t live in secret. Jesus continues this point in the next verse.
    Romans 2:16; John 18:20
  • 10:27 Believers are not to be involved in actions of hiding our faith or preventing it from being known. Jesus tells His disciples that what He tells them in darkness—in His private teaching times to them (our message comes from Jesus, we don’t make it up ourselves)—that they are to speak about it in the light—meaning they aren’t to keep it private but to make it public. Jesus has nothing to hide and He wants His message to be known. He says it another way by saying that whatever they hear in the ear (whisper)—any of His teachings—they are to preach it upon the housetops (loudly proclaimed)—the top of the houses at that time would make a great platform to give a message to a lot of people at once, thus the expression is used to mean that Jesus’ teachings are to be proclaimed publicly and be widespread. The disciples of Jesus who are on mission for Jesus should be characterized by openness and fearlessness.

10:28 Don’t Fear (Obey) Man, But Fear (Obey) God

  • 10:28a Jesus tells His disciples not to fear “them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul”—which is referring to man. What is the greatest form of persecution? Martyrdom—being killed for following Jesus. It is often said that the greatest thing we have in the life is our physical life (mortal), but man is made up of more than just his body—he also has a soul (immortal). After our body perishes, our soul still exists. It is this soul that makes mankind and animals different. It is what make us human. Our bodies being killed is the greatest price we can pay for following Jesus, but they still shouldn’t be feared because they aren’t the highest of authorities—the soul is beyond their reach.
  • Man is made up of two parts: the physical and the spiritual, our body and our inner being, or the material and the immaterial.
    1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Genesis 2:7; Proverbs 4:23
  • Two deaths: The first death means you will physically die and your soul will pass from this life into eternity. The second death means you will be cast into the lake of fire. This is man’s final destination and he will forever be separated from God.
    Revelation 20:14; 21:8
  • 10:28b Jesus tells His disciples to fear “him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”—which is referring to God. God holds the most supreme and sovereign authority. Man’s authority is limited to this world (natural), but God’s power goes beyond this world (supernatural). We are not to fear man’s wrath against righteousness, but we are to fear God’s wrath against evil—who has the power to destroy the whole man (body and soul) with an unlimited authority—one that extends beyond this world into the next.

10:29-31 Do’t Be Afraid, But Trust In God’s Sovereignty

  • 10:29-31 You are valued—you are important—therefore don’t be fearful. Jesus uses on illustration to emphasize this point. He tells His disciple that two sparrows are only sold for a farthing, but one of them will not fall on the ground without their Father—God even cares for the most insignificant creatures of creation. Then Jesus tells them that the very hairs of their heads are all numbered—He knows and cares about the smallest of details. Jesus sums up His illustrations by telling the disciples that they are of more value than many sparrows—meaning that God greatly values us. If God pays attention to the smallest of details and cares about the insignificant events of sparrows, how much more does He care for us. Knowing that God cares, we don’t need to be afraid when we are on mission.

10:32-33 Will You Confess Or Deny Jesus?

  • 10:32-33 Finally, Jesus assures His disciples that loyalty to Him will be rewarded—believers choose to confess Jesus before men no matter the cost, therefore Jesus will confess them before His Father in heaven. Unbelievers choose to deny Jesus before men to avoid persecution, therefore Jesus will deny them before His Father in heaven.

Review Questions

  • What is the first reason the disciples are to “fear not”?
  • Believers share in Jesus’ persecution, but also share in His what?
  • How does Jesus’ want His teachings to be proclaimed?
  • Does God care for us? How do you know?
  • Will you choose Jesus even if it means to be persecuted?

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