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Matthew

Trouble Is Constant

Matthew 10:24-42

Lesson audio

It often surprises Christians to discover that they are going to have trouble in their lives simply because they are a Christian. We will attempt to correct that misimpression in this lesson.

Disciple not above his Teacher

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. "It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

(Mat 10:24-26 NASB)

The Lordship of Christ

It is the natural characteristic of most human beings that they have someone they admire, someone they follow. It’s clearly seen in young boys, in whose minds they see themselves as being their hero. Years ago this was understood; sports figures were seen as role models; good sportsmanship was a display of good character. But we may observe a few points along the way:

  • Nobody picks their hero from the second string. Pick wisely, for you will soon be following his lifestyle.
  • There is no sense being a disciple if you are not obedient to the discipline. You may want to be the next great quarterback; if you do, practice.
  • Becoming a disciple changes you. Hopefully, for the better.

Do you see now what the lordship of Christ is about, disciple? If you claim Him as Lord, you have picked well. Follow through in obedience, and rejoice in the changes in yourself.

The household of Christ

Jesus refers to His disciples here as His “household.” In other words, they are family to Him. I’m sure you know how family loyalty works – or at least should work – offend my kids, offend me. It’s the same view from the outside; to offend my kids assaults me – and you already know you can bank on that.

What kind of insult do we bear? Look at it here: they accuse Christ of being in league with the Devil. Of course, we view this as being “then,” not “now.” This view is incorrect. Want proof? Go to your favorite web search engine and look for two words: “sinister” and “Christianity.” You will quickly find two kinds of sites dominate the search results. The first are sites berating the Christians for even thinking there is any kind of conspiracy against them. (After all, if we’d just turn into liberals …) The second are sites which will provide all the evidence you need for just such a conspiracy.

The truth is that if we name the Name, we will share the blame. Sadly, many Christians are indignant when this happens. Why would they pick on innocent, charitable little old me? You bear the Name, that’s why. Don’t be indignant about it; accept it for what it is.

The antidote to fear

Some of us, of course, are neither indignant nor resigned – but afraid. Do you see that word, “Therefore?” The natural reaction to those who can lock you up, beat you and steal all your money is to be afraid. But lets put this in perspective: How much more greatly should we fear God? We are indeed between two fears, and we should know which of the two is more powerful.

Sinister conspiracies are easy to accuse, hard to prove. Christ therefore warns us against them – and gives us the antidote. Life is just temporary anyway; but the Day is coming when all will be known. We need to look at it just that way; when we do, holy boldness is given to speak the word.

Tell you in darkness

"What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

(Mat 10:27-33 NASB)

Speaking in the light

In the darkness – especially in the darkness of evil – Christ will speak to you. Even though the times are evil, His presence, His Word are there to guide. But this is to be no secret; rather, public knowledge. Likewise, if He gives you a whispered word, you are to share it publicly.

“Speak in the light.” Are we only to speak in daylight hours? I think not. Speaking in the light can mean two other things:

·         It means that we should speak openly and publicly

·         It means that we should speak in an open and revealing way. Not our sin but Christ’s salvation is our message.

Of course, when you do, you will be threatened as well as reviled. When that happens, remember that your Lord conquered death. His early disciples reviled death, considering it of no consequence except as an honor to be martyred for the faith. The result of that faith is the church today. As ever, the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.[1]

Not significant – but well known

Little is much, when God is in it. Did you really think that He is ignoring you as you go about your appointed tasks? Perhaps He is testing you instead, tempering you for your next appointment.

You think not? Consider his infinite patience in dealing with you. Long after humankind would have thrown up their hands in despair, God still is working with you, because of His great love. A day is like a thousand years; His ways are not our ways. But count on it: He knows your name, your thought, who you are right down to the number of hairs on your head.[2]

Confession and denial

We are familiar with the expression “put your money where your mouth is.” But here we have “put your mouth where your treasure is.” We so often hear that faith without works is dead – but so is faith without commitment. Why would He demand such a thing?

  • First, it is to train us in boldness of speech.
  • It also brings us to greater love, for to speak for Christ is to care for others – and with this commitment your love for others will grow.
  • Finally, if this is the glory you get during persecution, how much greater will be your reward when He comes again?

Not peace, but a sword

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. "For I came 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 MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. "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. "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. "He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. "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. "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."

(Mat 10:34-42 NASB)

Civil War

The death and destruction caused by war are always grievous. But of all types of war, a civil war provides the greatest grief, for in civil war brothers shoot brothers. What, then, motivates a man to take up arms against his own father or brothers?

Consider the American Civil Way. Why was it fought?

  • For some, it was a crusade against slavery. Most of these were found in the churches, for it was the church that carried on the campaign against slavery. For them, it was a matter of Divine will.
  • For others, particularly in the South, they saw themselves as protecting their homeland against the invaders from the North.
  • Still others had no quarrel with slavery – but saw the Union as the great test of liberty and self-government. It was a sacred trust, handed down from the Founding Fathers.

The matter is simple: they loved their families, but loved “the cause” even more. It is the same today. The command of Christ is that I love my wife and children. But if one were to decide to be a homosexual…

The example of Christ in this is plain. Wherever He went, His mere presence obliged a split between evil and good. The low class sinner welcomed Him for His offer of salvation; the pious legalist rejected Him for exactly that.

The power of paradox

Christ is the hub; our other obligations of love are the spokes in the wheel. He does not explain why the paradox exists; He simply says it does.

  • As for family, note the exception “more than me.” Love of family is commanded – when it does not go against the call of Christ. That’s a measure of just how serious the call of Christ truly is.
  • We are to take up the Cross – to bear the burdens He says His disciples will bear, like it or not. Stop grumbling, accept the suffering so that you may also share His joy.
  • Ultimately, the principle of paradox applies to our entire life. If you become enamored of this world, getting yourself well adjusted into it, then Christ will become a nuisance. He is best dealt with by decorating a corner of your home in religious motif – and then congratulating yourself as you “have it all.” In fact, you have traded Someone for nothing.
  • The mixture is clear: if you want the blessing, bear the burden. Your mother told you to do it the hard way – and she was right!
Receives you, receives Me

Remember we spoke of “Love me, love my kids?” The reverse is true, also: “Love my children, love Me.” It is the boundless, overflowing love of Christ that tells us here of his system of rewards.

  • Do you receive a prophet in your home – simply because he is one, not for what you expect to gain? (This is “in the name of” a prophet.) if you so acknowledge him and uphold him, then Christ will reward you like He will reward the prophet.
  • But I don’t know any prophets. Fine. Do you know any righteous people?
  • But I don’t have the money to entertain such people. Fine. Even something so small as a cup of water in the name of one of His disciples, given to one so insignificant as a child, will bring its reward.

There it is. The call of Christ will cost you everything you have and everything you are or could be. It is a life of constant persecution and trouble, requiring boldness and the overcoming of fear. It is the demanding life; it is also the rewarding life – eternal.


[1] Tertullian

[2] A task which, in my case, has become progressively easier as the years have passed.

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