Matthew: First Mission: Jesus Brings Conflict And Rewards

Memory Verse: Matthew 10:34, 39

10:34-38 Potential Conflict

  • 10:1-33 Jesus is preparing to send His twelve disciples on their first mission. He tells them what they are to do on this mission (preaching and miraculous works) and warns them about the dangers of persecution that will arise on this mission and mission in the future as they wholeheartedly follow Him. Persecution is imminent. It will come from authorities, family and the people they are reaching out to. But they are not to fear, but boldly go forward trusting in the sovereignty of God.
  • 10:34 Jesus continues in His teaching to His disciples about their first mission. He just finished assuring His disciples that loyalty to Him will be rewarded. Now He moves on to correct their thinking about His purpose in coming to the earth at this time. He tells them to “think not”—meaning they aren’t to suppose or assume that Jesus has come according to their own reasons—“to send peace on earth.” His disciples, like many people, probably had a desire for “peace on earth” and thought Jesus would be the One to usher it in. But Jesus is the truth. Truth divides. Division causes conflict or as Jesus says, “a sword”. A desire for peace often leads to compromising the truth so that both parties are satisfied with the outcome, but Jesus did not come to compromise the truth but to loyally declare and defend it to the death. Jesus’ message is one of absolute truth and there are many who accept it, but also many who reject it, thus it is inevitable that disunity and conflict will occur. This is the reason that Jesus said, “I came”—meaning that He existed before His earthly birth but was made flesh to save people from their sins through the truth.
    John 1:14; Matthew 1:20-21
  • 10:35 Then Jesus gives the disciple an example of this conflict saying that He came to set family against each other—meaning that the truth would even cause division among the most personal relationships. What does this look like? The gospel message will be preached and someone will believe—forsaking everything for it because it is truth. But the truth goes against the culture, religion and traditions of that person’s family. To that family the truth is foreign and no truth at all. They reject it and expect others in their family to reject it as well. Therefore, there is an identity crisis. A person thinking about believing in Jesus has to choose to identify with his family or with Jesus. When the person chooses Jesus over their family, then they have been set at variance against them.
    Micah 7:6
  • 10:36 Jesus goes on to say that a man’s foes will even be people from his own household.  Not only will their relationships become strained and divided but that family will see the family member who followed Jesus as their enemy—a person they bitterly oppose—because they have turned their back on the family for the truth. They will be seen as shaming, disrespecting or causing the family to loose face. Unless your parents are also believers, following Jesus will most likely strain your family relationships to some degree.
  • 10:37 Therefore, there is a choice to be made: Jesus or family. Family is one of our highest and most important relationships—especially between parents and children. We are to love, respect and be loyal to our families. Parents love their children and children love their parents. No one could claim a higher love than this “family love” unless they were the one who created the family, the true God. And this is exactly what Jesus does—which points to who He claims to be. He says that He who loves father, mother, son or daughter more than Him is not worthy of Him—not fit to be His disciple. Jesus is calling for total commitment—meaning that you choose to love Jesus more than family. When you choose to believe in Jesus and your family opposes it, you have to make a decision.
  • 10:38 The path to follow Jesus is not easy. As Jesus prepares His disciple for serving Him, He describe a very hard path of persecution and conflict. Now, Jesus clearly tells them that He expects His followers to take up their crosses—symbolizing a person who carries a cross to the place of crucifixion—and follow after Him or they are not worthy of Him—not fit to be His disciple. Jesus is telling them to renounce themselves and follow Him even to the point of death. It means giving up their plans, dreams and lives to follow Jesus. This is full surrender—you give up your whole way of life to follow Jesus.

10:39 Paradoxical Teaching

  • 10:39 But there is a great paradox to following Jesus: a person who loses his life for Jesus’ sake will find it. This means that if we deny ourselves, if we don’t concentrate on ourselves, if we choose not to live for this world—all for the sake of Jesus—then we will find life. The paradox is that we have to loose our life for Jesus sake to be able to really find it. He is asking you to give everything up so that He can give you something greater. Jesus also warns that he who finds his life shall lose it. This means that if we live for ourselves and choose the easy path, then life has no purpose, now and in eternity. But the one who chooses to not to live for themselves but for Jesus will find life to the fullest sense—now and in eternity.

10:40-42 Promised Rewards

  • 10:40 If the disciples are willing to pay the price and follow Jesus then there are certain blessings that follow. First, Jesus tells them that anyone who receives them also receives Him and anyone who receives Jesus receives God—Him that sent Jesus. This is good news because it means there will be some who “receive” them (not only persecution in the future), but more importantly it speaks to their work as ambassadors for Jesus and God the Father. They are official representatives of Jesus who is the only way to God—therefore among those who receive them their treatment should be with the same respect due to those whom they are representing.
    2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 1:12-17; John 14:6
  • 10:41 Second, Jesus gives a principle similar to the first but says that those who receive them (like a prophet or righteous man) will also be partakers in their reward (like a prophet’s reward or a righteous man’s reward) because they were a helper in the work. Therefore, there is incentive to receive and help the man of God.
  • 10:42 Thirdly, Jesus notes that anyone who serves “one of these little ones”—a person without the reputation like that of a prophet or a righteous man, but is a disciple—(only in the name of a disciple) will be rewarded. Jesus illustration uses someone giving a cold cup of water to one lowly disciple as an act of service that will be rewarded.

Review Questions

  • What did the disciples think the reason Jesus came was?
  • What does Jesus mean by “a sword”?
  • When does a person have to choose between family and Jesus?
  • What is that great paradox? What does it mean?
  • The “promised rewards” are for doing what?

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