THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, Jesus healed two blind men and a cast a demon out another man. He then began to prepare His apostles to go out a limited commission. He gives them the power to work miracles. Most believe this limited commission lasted around 5 weeks. We ended our lesson with† Jesus telling His apostles what they needed to do on this limited commission and some the troubles they would face. He lets them know that if they are brought before those in charge that they will not have to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit would give them the words to speak.
So, we are going to pick up where we left in Matthew 10:24.
Matthew 10:24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.† 25 "It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!
Jesus was the greatest man to ever walk the earth because He was the Son of God, yet the opposing Jews were always plotting against Him and wanted Him dead. Jesus wants His disciples to understand that if these people were willing to treat the Son of God the way they do and would ultimately kill Him, then do not expect that they will not do the same to you. If they called Jesus Beelzebub, which can mean god of the dunghill, they will also call you all kinds of vile names.
Choosing to follow Jesus and choosing to commit your life to Him is one the greatest decisions you can make in your life, but it can also become the hardest decision you make because being a Christian is wonderful, but it can also be one the hardest things you will go through. Jesus never sugarcoats the truth about what a Christian might have to endure in order to follow after Him.
Some people get really excited about Jesus and what He did for them, but they donít understand what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. They love their Jesus if the blessings are flowing and life is grand, but sprinkle on a little hardship and some will break down quickly and start blaming God for their problems. We must not do that. As Jesus says next:
Matthew 10:26 "Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.† 27 " Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.† 28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Jesus did not want them to be afraid of these Jews because no matter what they did to them, the Jews could not keep the truth from being revealed. Jesus expects the same from us. He does not want us to fear man or allow them to silence us because the truth cannot be bound. Jesus had been training these men and teaching them things that others wished they knew beforehand, but now Jesus tells them proclaim what He has been teaching them to everyone. While such teachings might get you killed, He wants them and us to know that the only thing that man can do to us is kill our bodies, but they cannot touch our souls. However, we should fear God because He has the power† to not only destroy our body but our eternal soul as well. The Greek word behind the word fear has two meanings. One is being terrified and the other is being reverent.
When you read through the Bible you can see how both of these definitions apply. First of all God has never wanted people to follow Him and do His bidding because they were afraid of Him. God has a given us a free will on purpose. He wants us to love Him enough to show Him the deepest reverence that we can. However, we you look at what Jesus just said about God being able to destroy the body and the soul in hell, it should be a terrifying thing.
Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Those who do not believe in God or choose to not to live for Him may not have any fear of God right now, but they will because God is a just God, and He will punish those for eternity in hell who choose to turn their backs on God. There are some groups out there who do not understand what the word destroy means because they think it means that God will kill them and they will no longer exist. This is just wishful thinking because the Bible teaches us over and over again that punishment in hell is forever. Jesus says the fire of hell cannot be quenched Mt. 3:12, and it is where the worm does not die Mt. 9:44. As Jesus said in Mt. 24:36, the righteous will enter into eternal life, but the wicked will be sent away for everlasting punishment.
We all have a choice of which road we will travel. One road leads to heaven and will not cause to fear the day of judgment as John points out in:
1 John 4:17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.† 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.† 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
The other road is easy to travel and many will go down that road, but it leads to everlasting destruction and all those who experience this will be terrified. Which road will you take? Next, Jesus continues to encourage His disciples to remain faithful to the Lord.
Matthew 10:29 "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.† 30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.† 31 "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.†
Think about this. If God knows all about the animals such as when a bird falls to the ground and then Jesus says that we are more valuable than them, that should tell us just how important we are to God. Many jokes have been made about those who are bald headed when it comes this expression of the very hairs of our head being numbered, but this expression means much more than God knowing the number of hairs on our head because it means that God knows everything about us. That is how much He cares for us. Some of have made our expression mean way more than it was supposed to. For example, notice what Mr. Coffman writes about the view that Clement of Alexandria came up with:
It is therefore impious to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness. But the embellishment of smoothing (I am warned by the Word), if it is to attract men is the act of an effeminate person, ... if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer; and both must be driven as far as possible from our society. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered," says the Lord; and those on the chin too are numbered, and those on the whole body. There must, therefore, be no plucking out, contrary to God's appointment, which has counted them in according to his will.
This serves as a classic example of how man can make Scripture mean more than what is was supposed to.
Since God is so involved in our lives and we know the final outcome, we should not fear man. Jesus goes on to say:
Matthew 10:32 " Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.† 33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
The only way we can have access to the Father is through Jesus. Remember, He is our advocate. He tells His disciples and us that we must never be afraid to confess Jesus as our Lord because if we choose to deny Him before men, then He will deny us before the Father. Simply being a believer is not enough as we can see in:
John 12:42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;† 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
You can believe in Jesus all day long, but if you allow man to suppress your belief to the point that you are willing to deny Jesus so you can fit in, then you are not going to make it to heaven. But the flipside of this is if we are willing to make the great confession that Jesus is the Son of God and we continue to do this, then Jesus will confess us before the Father. Of course, as we look at the whole council of God, we know that more than just confession alone is necessary because we must be obedient to the will the God, which in a sense is a confession of Jesus because our actions speak just as loud as our words.
Matthew 10:34 " Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.† 35 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';† 36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'
We live in a society today that thinks that no one should offend another. If we have a disagreement, we are supposed to just let it go and say something like Ēwe will just have to agree, to disagree.Ē Many view Jesus as this loving man who did everything to keep the peace and wants people to get along no matter what their differences are, but this is not the picture the Scriptures paint about Jesus. Jesus Himself just said that He did not come to bring peace but the sword. Jesus knew that the message He wants His disciples to proclaim would bring about great division and cause people in your own household to become your enemy.
This division does not happen because the teachings of Christ are vile. It happens because people do not want to obey commands. They do not want to be held to a higher moral value because they want to do what they want. When you start teaching things that people do not want to hear or that would cause them to have to change, it causes them to react in a negative way, which sometimes leads to great persecution.
Though the message of Godís Word causes division, the message itself is a peaceful one. While there are commands that we are to follow and it does limit us from indulging in sin, the whole message is based on Godís love for us and Him knowing what is best for us. It does not matter how pure Godís Word is or how much it will benefit us, there will always be those who will oppose what it says even those in our own household.
Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.†
†Usually, the strongest bonds of love can be found between parent and child. You are blood kin. As the saying goes, blood is thicker than water, but Jesus wants us all to know that when it comes to being a disciple of Christ, it means that God is to be first in your life even before your children, your parents and yourself. This is certainly a hard teaching to follow because we are around our children all the time when they are growing up, and they are around us.
†While there are times we might want to put knot our childrenís heads, we still love them and would do just about anything to help them out. No matter how tight our bond is with each other, God must always be our first priority.
As parents, we have to make hard decision all the time regarding our children and what the can and cannot do. Sometimes our children become angry at our decision because they cannot understand why on earth we are being so restrictive, but there are times when we may let our guard down because we feel sorry for our children because they seem so pitiful. So, we decide to go ahead and give them permission to do some worldly deed that we know is sinful.
Itís moments like these that we fail as Christian parents because at that moment we chose to love our children more than we loved God. Please understand, I am not talking about letting your child do something that is questionable at best from the Bible, I am talking about allowing them to do something that is specifically called a sin in Godís Word.
Another situation that can be challenging for parents is when the precious child grows up and he or she makes a bad choice in life and they choose to continue on with that mistake. As parents, we do not like it when our children choose a life of sin, but we still love them and pray for them. However, some parents allow their love for their child to cause them to start making excuses for their childís behavior and they will even start twisting the Scriptures to try and justify their childís sin. This is what can happen when you allow your love for your child to be greater than your love for God and His Word.
Now you may think it is too hard to be the bad guy when it comes to limiting what your children can do. If you ever start thinking that way, then you need to open your Bible and start reading from:
Genesis 22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."† 2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."†
Do you see how anything you might have to say no to in your childís life fails in comparison to what God is telling Abraham to do. Please do forget the history behind this child because Abraham and his wife wanted to have a child for a long time. It took so long that Sarah had given up on having one so she gave her maidservant to Abraham so she could provide him a son. In the end, after Sarah was beyond the normal years for a woman to have a child, she had one. Abrahamís other son with Hagar was not the promised son and after some contention between Sarah and Hagar, Hagar and her son were sent away. After that, Abraham enjoyed all things that a father enjoys to do with his son, but now God is asking him to kill his son for God.
Think about how much faith it would take for someone to do that. Well, letís see what happens as we continue on in:
Genesis 22:3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.† 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.†
There is not a single word written that tells us that Abraham questioned this unusual command from God. In fact, we just read that he got up early the next morning and started the process of giving God what He wanted. He is proving that he loves God more than his only son he had with Sarah.
Sometimes we start out with good intensions to obey what God has said to do. However, as time goes on, we can change our minds. Well, we see that Abraham had a little over two days to think about what he was going to have to do because our text says that on the 3rd day they came to the place the Lord said the deed was to be done. Though he made it that far without turning away from God, the hardest part was yet to come.
5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."† 6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.† 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"† 8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.† 9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.† 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
Abraham proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was fully committed to God. He never wavered in the task given to him though it meant the death of his son. He was ready to make the fatal blow but we read:
Genesis 22:15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,† 16 and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son -- ††17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.† 18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."
As I put myself in the place of Abraham, I can just imagine how emotional I would have been at that moment. If had the faith of Abraham as I stood over my child ready to take his life, I would have had tears flowing from eyes, every muscle in my body would have been a tight as they can be, my heart would have been pounding out of my chest. It would have taken every ounce of strength I had to lift that knife in the air as I tried my best to make sure that my child death would be as quick as possible.
As soon as the Angel of the Lord called out and kept from doing what I never do under normal circumstances, I not only would be relieved, I would have been crying even more and I believe that I would feel totally exhausted at that moment and would have probably been shaking all over.
When you consider what Abraham was willing to do for God, it should help motivate you to do the right thing when it comes to raising your children in the way of the Lord. It should help you to see that nothing, and I meaning nothing should come between you and God. We must never forget the big picture, which we see taught over and over again, which is when we keep Godís commands, the reward of doing so is out of this world because eternity in heaven is what we will receive. Jesus continues,
Matthew 10:38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.† 39 "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
Jesus wants us to understand that living the Christian life is a daily sacrifice. We cannot be Christians once or twice a week, no God expects us to be committed every day. If that is too much for us to bear, then we are not where we need to be. If we cannot make that daily commitment, then we are not worthy of Jesus.
Verse 39 was a powerful verse for many of the early Christians because it gave them the courage they needed to be burned alive or fed to the lions without denying Jesus because they knew that if they died for the cause of Christ, that heaven would be their home.
How are we are doing in this area? When you think about your life for last 2 months, can you honestly say that you have taken up the cross every day? I hope you can say yes, to that, but if not, have you taken time out to figure out how you might change things in your life so you can make sure that you are living for God daily? I know we all struggle to do the right things sometimes, but I hope we give God our best effort every day because He certainly deserves it. We should have the attitude of Paul who said:
Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Matthew 10:40 " He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.† 41 "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.† 42 "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
This concludes Jesus instructions to His disciples and He lets them know that when people receive them, it is just like they are receiving Jesus, and they will receive their reward. He also mentions how people will be rewarded for giving water to a little one in the name of a disciple. This teaching goes hand and hand with what you read in Mathew 25, when Jesus makes the separation of the wicked and the righteous on the judgment day and talks about how those who did not do good deeds were not going to heaven, but those who did good deeds for others did get to go to heaven.
What really catches my attention is the basic principle that whatever is done to those who belong to the Lord it is just like is being done to Jesus. So, when people reject you when you are trying to save their souls, they are not just rejecting you, they are rejecting Jesus. Those who treat Christians well is just like treating Jesus well. I love that connection because just shows us how connected we are to Jesus as we take up that cross daily. Finally, we read this:
Matthew 11:1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
Jesus did not take a vacation while His disciples went out and evangelized. No, He also went out and evangelized at the same time back in Galilee. So, this teaches us that even though we may train someone to do what we can do, it does not give us an excuse stop doing that for the Lord.
So, let us take these instructions given to Jesusí disciples to heart because they will prepare us too. While we donít have the benefit of the miraculous as they did, the rest certainly applies because living the Christian life is hard at times, but the reward of heaven is worth it all.