Our Lord had been sending forth his twelve apostles to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and to work miracles in his name. Having given them their commission, he warned them of the treatment they must expect to receive, and then fortified their minds against the persecutions they would have to endure.
Mat_10:24-25. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
The name, Beelzebub or Beelzebul, meaning the god of filth, or as some say, the god of flies, was applied by the Jews to the very worst of the evil spirits. They supposed that there were some devils worse than others, and the very head and master of them all they called Beelzebub, and now they supplied this title to our Lord Jesus himself. Well then, if men should give us ill names and evil characters, need we marvel? Shall Christ be spit upon and despised, and shall you and I be honoured and exalted? You have heard of Godfrey de Bouillon, the crusader, who entered Jerusalem in triumph, but who refused to have a golden crown put upon his head because he said, he never would be crowned with gold where Christ was crowned with thorns. So do you expect to be honoured in the world where your Lord was crucified?
Mat_10:26. Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
“They will misrepresent you, slander you, and speak evil of you; but if your good name be covered up now, it shall be revealed one of these days, perhaps in this life; but if not in this life, certainly at the day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be made known.” It really is marvellous how sometimes in this life, misrepresented men suddenly obtain a refutation of their calumniators, and then it seems as if the world would serve them as the Greeks did their successful runners or wrestlers when they lifted them upon their shoulders, and carried them in triumph.
Mat_10:27. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
This is what we are to preach, what Christ tells us, and this is how we are to get the matter of our discourses, be alone with Christ, let him talk to us in the darkness, in the quietude of the closet where we commune with him in prayer. Then this is where we are to preach, “upon the housetops.” “We cannot literally do this here in this land upon our slanting roofs; but, in the East, “the housetops” were the most public places in the city, and all of them flat, so that anyone proclaiming anything from the housetops would be sure of an audience, and especially at certain times of the day. Preach ye, then, ye servants of God, in the most public places of the land. Where ever there are people to hear, let there not be any lack of tongues to speak for God.
Mat_10:28. 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.
A philosopher — Anaxarchus, I think it was, — was wont to say when a certain tyrant had threatened to kill him, “You cannot kill me; you may crush this body, but you cannot touch Anaxarchus.” So fear not those who cannot kill the soul, if that be safe, you are safe. Even Seneca frequently asserted that it was not in the power of any man to hurt a good philosopher, “for,” said he “even death is gain to such a man;” and certainly it is so to the Christian. For him to die is indeed gain. But oh! fear that God who can destroy the soul, for then the body also is destroyed with a terrible and tremendous destruction: “fear him.”
Mat_10:29-30. 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.
So, then, God takes more care of us than we take of ourselves. You never heard of a man who numbered the hairs of his head. Men number their sheep and their cattle, but the Christian is so precious in God’s esteem that he takes care of the meatiest parts of his frame, and numbers even the hairs of his head.
Mat_10:31-32. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
What a glorious promise is this! “I will confess him to have been bought with my blood, I will confess him to have been my faithful follower and friend I will confess him to be my brother, and in so doing I will favor him with a share of my glory.” Have you confessed Christ before men? If you have trusted him as your Saviour, but have not publicly professed your faith in him, however sincere you may be, you are living in the neglect of a known duty, and you cannot expect to have this promise fulfilled to you if you do not keep the condition that is appended to it. Christ’s promise is to confess those who confess him. Be ye then, avowedly on the Lord’s side.
“Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” Without the camp the Saviour suffered, and without the camp must his disciples follow him, bearing his reproach.
Mat_10:33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Not to confess Christ is practically to deny him, not to follow him is to go away from him; not to be with him is to be against him. Looking at this matter of confessing Christ in that light, there is cause for solemn self-examination by all who regard themselves as his disciples.
Mat_10:34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Do not misunderstand the Saviour’s words. Christ’s usually spoke in a very plain manner, and plainness is not always compatible with guardedness. Christ did come to make peace, this is the ultimate end of his mission; text for the present, Christ did not come to make peace. Wherever Christianity comes, it causes a quarrel, because the light must always quarrel with the darkness, and sin can never be friendly with righteousness. It is not possible that honesty should live in peace with theft; it cannot be that there should be harmony between God’s servants and the servants of the devil. In this sense, then, understand our Saviour’s words.
Mat_10:35-36. 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.
This is always the case, and I suppose will be to the end of the chapter. Whenever true religion comes into a man’s heart and life, those who are without the grace of God, however near and dear they may be to him, will be sure to oppose him.
Mat_10:37-39. 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. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
In the days of the martyrs, one man was brought before the judges, and through fear of the flames he recanted, and denied the faith. He went home, and before the year was ended his own house caught fire, and he was miserably consumed in it, having had to suffer quite as much pain as he would have had to endure for Christ’s sake but having no consolation in it. He found his life, yet he lost it. Now, in a higher degree, all who, to save themselves, shun the cross of Christ, only run into the fire to escape from the sparks. They shall suffer more than they would otherwise have done; but whosoever is willing to give up everything for Christ shall learn that no man is ever really a loser by Christ in the long run. Sooner or later, if not in this life, certainly in the next, the Lord will abundantly make up to every man all that he has ever suffered for his sake. Now comes a very delightful passage: —
Mat_10:40. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
When, therefore, you are kind to the poor, when you help the people of God in their difficulties and necessities, you are really helping Christ in the person of his poor but faithful followers.
Mat_10:41. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet —
That is, not as a gentleman, nor merely as a man, nor as a talented individual, but as a prophet of God, —
Mat_10:41. 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.
Just the same reward which God gives to prophets and righteous men, he will give to those who receive them in the name of a prophet or of a righteous man. A prophet’s reward must be something great, and such shall be the reward of those who generously receive the servants of God.
Mat_10:42. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones 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.
There have been times, even in our own country when to give “a cup of cold water” has been to run the risk of suffering death. In the dark days of persecution, some who were called heretics were driven out into the fields in the depth of winter to perish by the cold, the king’s subjects being forbidden, upon pain of death, to give them anything either to eat or to drink. Now, in such a case as that, giving “a cup of cold water” would mean far more than if you or I simply gave a cup of water to someone who happened to be thirsty, but our Lord Jesus Christ here promises to reward any who, for his servants’ sake, will dare to risk any consequences that may fall upon themselves.