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The Rob Skinner Podcast: Helping You Make This Life Count


Jun 21, 2024

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 In this episode I share from a series on Matthew that I’m going through on Sundays.  Please enjoy this exposition of Matthew 10.  

Transcript is below.  Feel free to use as needed.

 

Matthew 10: 26-42

Matthew Series

Sunday, June 9th, 2024

Introduction

This section of Jesus’s instructions to his disciples goes beyond practical training into deeper waters.  He starts talking about what drives us, what we will face once we start actively following Jesus.  He talks about two motives that can control or inspire us, fear and love.

These forces are incredibly powerful and if left unchecked, fear will keep us living small, meaningless lives.  The only power greater than fear is love.  As the Apostle John says in 1 John 4:17-19, 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  19 We love because he first loved us.”

There is no fear in love.  Jesus talks about fear and then he talks about a greater motivation, love.  When our love grows, fear shrivels.

1.    Fear

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Fear is the key word of this section. 

When we share Jesus, invite people to listen to his word and face opposition we are going to experience fear.  There is no getting around the mission in order to avoid fear.  Jesus says that everything Jesus whispers, everything you hear in a Bible study or sermon, needs to be shouted from the rooftops.  Jewish homes had flat roofs and were used for sleeping, prayer and were great platforms for preaching to a crowd.

We can’t escape fear, but we can choose who to be afraid of.  We can live our lives afraid of what people think about us or say to us or we can live our lives in fear of God.  Fear of man is based on self-interest and self-preservation, it’s just plain cowardice.  Fear of God, however, is something that’s praised throughout the Bible.

I have a message from God in my heart
    concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:[
b
There is no fear of God
    before their eyes.  Psalm 36:1

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1:7

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  Job 1:8

When we don’t fear God, the Bible calls us a fool.  When Jesus says that folly comes from within the hearts of man, in Mark 7:22, he is referring to the sin of not taking God into account.  This person thinks he doesn’t need God, have to deal with God or factor God into his plans.

God is highlighting Job as an ideal follower or believer, characterized by the fear of God and avoidance of evil.  He values these characteristics today.

Why should we fear God and not people?  People can destroy our bodies, but God has the capacity to destroy our bodies and our soul in hell.  We don’t know what will happen in hell, but each one of us has the opportunity for eternal life with God.  God has power to bring us into his eternal kingdom or destroy our souls.  This brings up an interesting thought, does God destroy non-believing souls once they die or let them live on separated from him?  Does God annihilate the soul or let it go on in regret that they lived their lives rebelling against God.  In any case, you don’t want to fall into the hands of a God who controls your life now and after death. 

What does fearing people look like?  Some of us puff up and say, “I don’t care what people think or do!”  Really?  So did Peter at the last supper.  He said, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matthew 26:33)  Fear of man shows up every day.  It’s when we walk through a checkout line and don’t offer an invitation to church because we don’t want to look funny to the people in line behind us.  It’s when someone brings up a spiritual subject and we remain quiet.  It’s when we decide to stay home when there is an opportunity to go sharing in the community.  It’s how busy we suddenly get when there is a Bible study and we just can’t seem to make the time to join.  It’s revealed when years pass without us sharing, meeting, teaching or bringing people nearer to God.  We say, “I don’t care what people think!”  Then why do all the people around you remain unchanged and unconverted?

Why else should we not fear people?  Jesus offers a reassuring reason, the same God who has the power to destroy in hell also takes time and attention to care for the smallest sparrow.  They were the cheapest birds sold for food in Jesus’ time.  This is an argument from the lesser to the greater.  “You are worth more than many sparrows.”  In contrast to certain people who claim that the life of an animal is equal to that of a human,  Jesus says you are worth far more.  If he cares for the sparrow, how much more will he take care of you.

He even knows how many hairs are on your head.  The average person has between 90,000 to 150,000 hairs on their head.  God knows your exact number.  Jesus knows what you are going through.  Your life and death have his attention.  You are extremely important to God.  You don’t need to fear that God isn’t with you or is forgetting you in times of trial.

What’s worse than being ridiculed, gossiped about or excluded by the people around you?  Being disowned by Jesus on the last day.  Here is where our day-to-day behavior connects to our eternal destiny.  When you are unashamed and proud of Jesus, that’s how he will treat you.  When you deny, disown, hide, are embarrassed of Jesus, that’s exactly how you will be treated when you appear before Jesus when you die. 

How are you doing at work, at school, with your mom’s group, your club, your old friends?  How you honor or dishonor Jesus in that setting is a mirror of how you will be treated when Jesus presents you to his father.  You choose who you’re going to stand with.  The people around you in this life or Jesus when he presents you to his father. 

As a baby Christian, I would have quiet times in the Doe undergraduate library at UC Berkeley and read passages like this from Isaiah 51:7-8,

“Hear me, you who know what is right,
    you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
    or be terrified by their insults.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
    the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
    my salvation through all generations.”

Passages like these would give me the perspective to understand how much greater God is than any person I’d meet on campus.  People are as shortlived and temporary as clothing that a moth can eat holes in.  Scriptures like this taught me to fear God, not the people I’d reach out to.

This choice takes up the rest of the chapter.

2.   Love

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Jesus clears up a misconception we often have about God and his gospel.  We often think that the gospel will unite, bring peace and harmony between people.  We think Jesus’ purpose was to bring peace.  Jesus contradicts that and says he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword.  A sword is a symbol for conflict and violence. 

His message is peace for those who accept it.  Peace with God and peace with others who follow God wholeheartedly.  However, Jesus’ teaching brings division between those who accept it and those who don’t.  He doesn’t compromise.  His teaching will turn people against each other.  Family members will hate each other, stop talking to each other, kill each other over the gospel.  Middle eastern families are extremely close.  Your identity is bound up in your family.  I was talking to a young man, Fadi Alhinn, on my podcast and he talked about how his family in Jordan is incredibly close and how growing up it forms the basis for your identity along with your religion.

Jesus says your love for him must be greater than even your closest family members.  In Luke 14:26 he says the same thing using a semitic or Jewish saying,  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

If you don’t love Jesus more than your family, you’re not worthy of him.  We might say, “you don’t have what it takes” to be a disciple of Jesus.  How does that show up today?  When we won’t follow Jesus because our parents or siblings disapprove.  When they try to get us to calm down and we listen to them.  When those we love try to substitute a dead, sterile, fruitless form of religion in place of true discipleship.  When they beg us to return to our old lives, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Many can’t or won’t make that sacrifice.  They look for a middle ground.  Empty religion, compromise with sin, outward observance covering hidden sin.  Jesus will never accept second place in your affections.  He knows your heart and he knows if you love him first. 

He then goes on to mention the cross for the first time.  It’s hard to recreate the fear and gut level reaction the disciples must have had when he drops that bomb into this conversation.  This was the epitome of embarrassment, humiliation, social disgrace, suffering and pain wrapped up into one image.  They had no idea at this point that Jesus would literally carry a cross for their sin and ours.  It points to the fact that Jesus won’t compromise.  If you want to be a disciple, you are signing away your rights to a comfortable, quiet life where everyone thinks you are a nice person. 

We are all left with some tough decisions.  Which life are we going to live for?  This one or eternal life.  Who are we going to stand in solidarity with?  The crowd, coworkers, family or Jesus himself?  Jesus offers public disgrace and the possibility of a savage death, he also holds out eternal life with him.  To borrow from a soccer coach, Bill Shankly, Discipleship is “not a matter of life and death, it is much more serious than that.”   

3.   Reward

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Jesus closes this section by revealing how closely he identifies with his disciples.  When people treat us well, they are actually treating Jesus well.  They will be rewarded.  They will be honored. 

 

Conclusion:

Remember Jesus said in chapter 7:14, “14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Here is why that road is so narrow and hard to find and choose.  If you are struggling with your decision to follow Jesus, it shows you understand the level of sacrifice he calls for every disciple.

 

Next Steps

·       Repent of fear and people-pleasing, share your faith this week, stop living as a secret disciple.

·       Grow your love for Jesus, choose Jesus and his kingdom over friends, family and your own life.