Matthew 10:26 – “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
Jesus is still giving instructions to his disciples, as he sends them out in pairs to preach the Kingdom of Heaven to the Jews.
Jesus has revealed to them that there will be many who will listen to the gospel, but there will also be those who despise and reject it. The disciples will suffer persecution for the sake of the gospel.
What is the thing that is hidden and that is going to be known or revealed? Some scholars believe it refers to the persecution of the apostles. The idea is that the apostles are not to fear those who persecute them, because God sees and knows all things. He will be the judge of every man’s work, even things done in secret. God is comforting his servants with the knowledge that he already knows what they will suffer and the evil done to them for his sake will be judged. God has already expressed the same thought back in the Old Covenant:
Ecclesiastes 12:14 – For God shall bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Another point of view is that the hidden thing refers to the gospel. At this point, it is hidden or not widely known because Jesus is the only one revealing it. However, the apostles will soon be out preaching the message as well. Eventually, after the day of Pentecost, the message will explode into the world.
Both points of view could be correct, however, the covering and revealing of the gospel message might be the most appropriate interpretation, considering the next few verses.
Matthew 10:27 – “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a single reason why I would want to get up on the roof of my house. It is hot, the shingles are very scratchy, and the pitch of the roof is steep. If I fell off, the result would be injury or possibly death.
However, in Judea the roofs were (and still are) useful living space. They were flat with a railing around them. People used them for a variety of reasons:
In Joshua 2:6 we find Rahab using her flat roof to help the two spies of Israel. She hid them on the roof, covering them with some flax that she had been drying there.
2 Samuel 11:2 tells us that king David was walking on the roof of his palace when he saw Bathsheba taking a bath (She too was probably on a roof).
Sadly, some Jews had altars of Baal or other foreign gods on their roofs, and they would offer sacrifices on them (Jeremiah 32:29).
Roof tops were also used for public announcements, prayer, meditation and whatever else the homeowner needed. This is what Jesus is referring to when he tells the disciples to publicly proclaim the gospel message from the roof tops.
The point is that the gospel is not to remain a secret, but it is to be broadcast far and wide. This mandate was not just for the apostles. It was passed onto us when Jesus returned to heaven.
Mark 16:15 – And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
We too are to broadcast the message of the gospel far and wide. While radio, television and computers have made this far easier, we still have a personal responsibility to share the gospel with those we know.
Matthew 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Well, there is certainly a lot going on in this verse.
Point #1: Jesus confirms for us that there is a difference between the body and the soul. The body is for this physical world. If it dies, your soul (and spirit) do not die with it. Rather, the soul and spirit are released from the dead physical body and they continue on in eternal existence.
Point #2: Man (in this case those opposed to the gospel message), have a very limited authority over other men (in this case believers). It is possible for them to persecute and even kill believers. But their authority is limited to abuse of the physical body. They have no power or authority over any man’s soul and spirit. Only God has the power and authority to grant eternal life or eternal torment.
Based on these facts, who should we fear? Who should we respect and obey? Man, who is evil and limited in what he can do to your physical body, or God, who is good and provides eternal life for your soul and spirit? Remember, the bible also tells us that God will give us a new body for eternity – one that does not age, get sick, experience pain or have any defects. I am looking forward to eventually getting mine!
In this verse, Jesus is giving comfort and strength to his followers. He is warning them that they may be called upon to sacrifice their lives for him, but in the midst of that, they should keep their focus on eternity, not this world. Ultimately, we can serve only one master. Will it be the temporary powers of this world or will it be the God of the universe?
Matthew 10:29-31 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
If you think about it, the apostles have just been given some harsh news. They are to go out and spread the gospel. While there will be many who will welcome the message, there will also be conflict. This conflict will result in persecution, even to death. But they are not to back down, for God is the judge not only of the body but of the soul and spirit; he can send men to eternal torment.
At this point, could the apostles be wondering what they had gotten themselves into? Could they be feeling uneasy, caught between a rock and a hard place? Are they wondering what kind of master God really is?
They do not need to wonder; Jesus now tenderly explains to them just how much God loves them.
Let’s suppose you have a friend who has a Rolls Royce Sweptail. At the time of this writing, that particular automobile is the most expensive car in the world with a price tag of $13,000,000.00. You meet your friend in his garage to see the car.
When you arrive, you are surprised to find an old Ford Pinto in the garage bay next to the Rolls. You are even more surprised to find your friend wearing greasy coveralls, giving the Pinto a tune up. He has already replaced some cracked hoses and changed the oil. A new set of windshield wipers are also ready to be installed.
Consider this: If your friend had love and value for the nearly worthless Pinto, how much more is he going to love and value the Rolls?
In the time of Christ, the cost of a sparrow was the equivalent of ¼ of one cent. Four for a penny. Four hundred for a dollar! That’s almost more insulting than being free. So, the sparrow is like the Pinto. Although it is not the most valuable thing his creation, God still loves and takes care of it. He provides it with food, water and a mate. He endows it with survival instincts, like how to build a nest and a fear of predators. He also knows when one of them meets death, whether from disease or predators or cold weather or old age. Not only does he know, but he is actively present. That’s right – reread the words of Jesus again – ‘Not one of them falls to the ground APART from your Father’. God is there when each sparrow dies.
You, dear reader, are like the Rolls! God paid the very highest price for you – the blood of his own Son. You are created in his image. You are his son/daughter, and a co-heir with Jesus Christ. You are a priest in God’s kingdom. You will rule and reign with him in the next life. The list of your ‘amenities’ goes on and on. If God is so committed to taking care of the sparrow that he is actively present when one of them dies, how much more is he going to take care of you? How much more will he be actively present to comfort and strengthen you as you transition from this life to eternity with Him?
Hmmm… all of a sudden, death doesn’t seem so scary anymore. When we realize how much God loves us and that he (and he alone) is in control of our transition from this life to the next, our fear of man and what he can do to us greatly diminishes. Now we are free to keep our eyes focused on our loving Father and the race he has set before each one of us.
Matthew 10:32-33 – “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in haven, but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven”
Many years ago, when I was in middle school, I remember being in a line with my classmates in a hallway. Somehow, the conversation turned to religion and I was ridiculed for being a Christian. I would like to say that I stood up and refuted all their insults with scripture, but I didn’t. I distinctly remember being embarrassed and not saying a word, hoping that the teacher would come quickly and lead us to the next class so my humiliation would end.
I’ve never forgotten that, and for a long time, I felt guilty about it. In my mind, I had denied Christ and I was worried about it. Perhaps you may have had some similar experiences and feelings. There is good news for both of us – we are not the only ones to do this! As you recall, the apostle Peter also denied Jesus.
Luke 22:60-61 – But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”
Thankfully, we see the end of Peter’s story and we know that Jesus forgave him, and restored him to a place of ministry. I believe Jesus has also forgiven you and me.
But there is still a question to be addressed here: What does it mean to deny Christ in such a manner that he would deny us before God the Father?
In the original text, the word for ‘acknowledge’ can also be translated ‘confess’ or ‘profess’. We confess/profess Jesus in many ways. The most profound of these is our conduct. Do we live our everyday lives in such a manner that others can see we belong to Jesus? Are we honest, loving, patient and kind? Do we exercise control over what we watch, what we read and what we wear? Are the places we go and the things we do pointing to Jesus or away from him? Are we living examples of Biblical principles?
As someone once asked, ‘If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence of convict you?’
If you can answer ‘yes’ to that question, then you are professing/confessing Christ with your conduct. If no one can tell you are a Christian from your lifestyle, then you are denying him.
Certainly, we confess/profess Christ with our mouths. While this obviously includes proclaiming him as Lord and Savior, it involves more than just that. For instance, is our everyday conversation sprinkled with cursing and bitterness? Do we use our tongues to complain, to find fault, to accuse, to belittle, to stir up drama or otherwise bring death to the people we speak with? If so, then you are denying Christ with your mouth.
On the other hand, you can use your mouth to encourage people, to console those who are hurting, and bring joy to those around you.
You can use your mouth to give praise and worship to God. You can keep your speech pure and positive. If you are doing these types of things, you are confession/professing Christ with your mouth.
Finally, we confess/profess Christ by submitting to his authority over us in all things. If he calls us to be single or married, rich or poor, etc, we need to embrace what he has called us to be and to do. In so doing, we profess/confess his lordship over our lives. And if we confess him before men in this life, Jesus will confess us before his Father in heaven!
Matthew 10:34-36 – Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
What does it mean to bring a ‘sword’? A sword is an instrument of death; to send a sword is to produce hostility and war. This seems like a strange statement, especially since the scriptures clearly described Jesus as the Prince of Peace:
Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
What is the correct understanding of these verses?
Hostility and discord were not the reasons Jesus came to earth, they were the effects of his coming. If part of a family opposed the gospel, they would set themselves against the part of the family who accepted the gospel. The result would be hostility/war between the family members. Clearly, the wickedness of men, not the good news of the gospel, is the cause of this hostility and contention. Wherever the gospel is preached, Satan will incite wicked men to oppose it. This was prophesied long ago by Micah:
Micah 7:5-6 – Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms, for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
If only all men would accept the gospel message, then there would be peace and not contention!
Matthew 10:37 – “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
God is the one who created families in the first place, when he created Eve as a partner for Adam. He is not telling us to abandon our natural affection for our family.
What he is saying is that our first and foremost devotion must always be to God. If it comes down to following/choosing our parents or following/choosing Christ, then we must break off the bonds of family and cling to Jesus.
If we love our families more than Christ, we are not worthy to be his disciple.
Matthew 10:38-39 – “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
In Roman times, people who were sentenced to be crucified were forced to carry their own cross to the place of crucifixion. (The Romans were masters of cruelty, were they not?)
The cross was an instrument of death; to carry it was burdensome and disgraceful.
Jesus uses this figurative expression to tell his followers that we must endure whatever is burdensome or trying or considered disgraceful in following Christ. Basically we are to simply do our Christian duty and to adhere to the race that God has set before us, even if it entails shame, disgrace or pain.
If we do so, we can be assured that we will find life, not lose it. The word ‘life’ is used in two senses in verse 39. So let’s clarify: The believer who is anxious to save their temporal life (comfort, acceptance and security on earth), shall do so only by forfeiting eternal life (life in heaven). The person who is willing to risk or lose his comfort, acceptance and life here on earth for Jesus sake, shall find everlasting life in the next world.
Matthew 10:40-42 – “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person, will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
These three verses are closely connected, so we will examine them together.
Remember that at the beginning of this chapter, Jesus had instructed the apostles to go out and preach the gospel. They were not to take any extra money or supplies, rather they were to find a house that was worthy and stay there until they left the city.
In these last three verses, Jesus is giving them a kind of credit card. Whatever food, kindness, provision or hospitality the apostles were given, Jesus would consider that it was done to him. Therefore, those who provided for the apostles would be rewarded by God.
Eventually, when our study takes us to chapter 25 of Matthew’s gospel, we will see Jesus declaring the same principle once again. Saints who visit prisoners or clothe the naked or visit the sick are actually doing it to Jesus, and they will be rewarded for it.
While we are not told exactly what the reward is, I have to believe that it will be generous and wonderful, because that is the nature of God. So, let us do all we can to aid and assist those who spread the true gospel of Christ!
Let me give you some encouragement: I can see where preaching the gospel might have seemed like an overwhelming task to the disciples, at least in the beginning. But remember, nothing is impossible with God. God never sets us up to fail; we are always victorious in Christ. So, what has God called you to do? Does it seem overwhelming or difficult? I encourage you to step out in faith and get started. The more you work at it, the easier the task will become. When you do your part, God will make a way where you cannot!
Let me give you some relief: Has the enemy tried to make you feel guilty about things in your past? Maybe you denied Christ at some point or broke one of the “big” commandments. Regardless of what you did, there is forgiveness for you. How is this for relief – the Psalmist tells us that God has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. In fact, he has cast our sin as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalms 103)! Praise his name! Let go of any guilt you are carrying around and put the past where it belongs – in the past! Make room for the Holy Spirit to come into your life and assist you in carrying out your life’s mission!
Let me give you some strength: God loves you. He loves you more than you can know or understand, but we can get a glimpse of his love as we meditate on things he tells us. Remember, YOU are God’s most precious possession. There can be no other explanation considering that he sent his Son to die for you! God has adopted you into his family; he calls you son or daughter. He has made you a co-heir with Jesus. He has made you a priest in his kingdom. He has prepared a place in heaven, just for you. He has your name engraved on the palm of his hand. He has rewards waiting for you in the next life. He is going to wipe away all your tears and heartaches. He promises never to leave you or forsake you. Hallelujah! Remembering how much God cares for you should give you strength to serve him in all circumstances.