(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
This portion of Matthew 10 is directly after Jesus begins talking with His disciples about the persecution and betrayal they will face if they continue to follow Him. Jesus then begins to teach His disciples some other basic tenets and challenges of being His follower. Twenty-three verses; thirteen seemingly unrelated statements. However, what does this look like when we piece them together into a coherent train of thought from Jesus’ perspective (I am paraphrasing):
Do not strive to be better than Me, strive to be like Me even though you will be thought of as evil as I am thought of as evil (vv.24-25). The actions of those who see you as evil are seen by God (v.26). Take what I teach you in private and proclaim it boldly to everyone (v.27). But do not worry because man cannot hurt you, only Satan can kill your body and soul (v.28). God loves you more than the birds of the air and nothing will happen to you that is not His will (vv.29-31). If you go from here and proclaim these teachings in My name I will proclaim you before God (vv.32-33). I did not come to bring peace to this world but instead to win victory over Satan who will try to use My work to tear families apart. Those who are worthy must endure this persecution and follow me anyway(vv.34-38). If persecution because of Me leads to your death, you will find eternal life with my Father, but if you do not persevere and chose instead to follow the ways of this world you will find no life with God in eternity (v.39). I do not ask you to do these things simply because I am Jesus, I ask you to do these things because you believe completely that I am the Christ sent by God (vv.40-41). If you go forward and serve even the least among you, expecting nothing in return, in my name, then you will have reward in heaven (v.42).
Having come from a military and law enforcement background I see Jesus’ teachings here as being equivalent to a commander giving his troops instruction before they go into battle. I get this mental image of George C. Scott at the beginning of the movie about General Patton as he musters his troops for action (minus the colorful language of course). In Patton’s speech he definitely raises the awareness that death in this war is possible but he encourages the troops by saying, “no one has ever won a war by dying for his country; he has won the war by making the other person die for their country (colorful language omitted).” I can see Jesus telling his disciples, in a way that may seem cryptic to some, “these people are going to hate you, they are going to do everything their commander (Satan) tells them to do to try to destroy you. But I have brought a sword (God’s Word & His Spirit) which I give to you so that you can defeat this enemy. If you stick tight to our battle plan and follow Me tirelessly you will have victory which is eternal life in heaven; but, if you fail to stick tight, if you get captured and converted by the enemy into following the ways of this world you will have nothing.” Can you see that image? Can you see Jesus mustering His troops for battle?
It is my opinion that one of the biggest problems with “Christians” today is that they DO NOT see this image; they DO NOT see this being a life or death battle. Granted the persecution many Christians see is not at all what these early Christians saw; however, if you look at the persecution of Christians in other countries you can see a disturbing view of what Christianity in America could become if we do not step up and begin to see this as battle for the souls of the lost. Jesus has won the war and defeated Satan; a fact that Satan loathes with his entire being and that is why he will do anything within his power to keep us from planting the seeds that the Holy Spirit can use to revive the faltering faith that was so strong in those first twelve disciples.
My prayer for you today is that you realize that you are in a battle and, much like a warrior, you begin to train like your life depends on it. Read your Bible, pray dangerously, disciple your kids, your wife, and others around you, but most of all persevere in spreading the Gospel of Christ to everyone who is in earshot. “Proclaim from the roofs (v.27).”