THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW VOLUME 2 CHAPTER 22

SECTION 4: THE MESSENGERS OF THE KING
CHAPTER 22

THE ENCOURAGMENT OF CONFESSING CHRIST
OR
IN THE SHADOW OF HIS CROSS

Scripture To Consider:
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 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 [prince of the devils], how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore, do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 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. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

“Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him [or her] I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him [or her] I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10.24-33

Something To Consider:
Not only did the Master comfort His followers by the assurance of a coming deliverance, but He told them that it would be their distinction to suffer as He would and did suffer. It need not surprise them or us, that the servants are met with the same treatment as the Lord. If men called Him Beelzebub, they would use no less reproachful titles in addressing His followers. The warning was and is clear that all followers would and do share in the hatred toward Him.

His early followers as well as all followers in every generation were and are encouraged by Christ’s words, however, they are not to fear. Three times the exhortation was repeated. In spite of their sufferings, they were not to be terrified, because their testimony would be made only the more powerful because of their distress.

They were not to fear the cruelest enemies, for these might kill the body, but their trust was in God the Father whose power was not limited to the present life. According to Jesus, “But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Therefore, a reverent fear of Him should destroy all fear of men, devil, or coming Antichrist.

They were further encouraged by the assurance that His heavenly Father would care for them. He knew of the fall of the sparrow and regarded the smallest personal needs of His children. Therefore, He would certainly protect and deliver them in their time of danger. Most of all, they should be encouraged by the glory which would await them as they stood at last before the throne of their Father in heaven.

Those who had been loyal to Christ on earth would then receive a glorious recognition and would be acknowledged as the true children of God. Whatever may be involved in an open confession of Christ should be cheerfully and heroically endured to the end of one’s life or to the end of this age. Needed strength will be given in the present, and in the future blessedness of heaven.

More Scripture To Consider:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 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. And a man’s foes will be those of his own household.” He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10.34-39

Something Else To Consider:
In warning His messengers of the suffering which might attend their ministry, Jesus spoke with clarity and assured them of its certain bitterness. If they are to testify to an unbelieving and unrepentant world, they must expect opposition, persecution, and pain. The final issue of the mission of Christ will be universal peace, but that will not result from the first proclamation of His demands.

There will arise, rather, a sharp division between those who accept Him and those who reject Him. And yet, the presence of Christ always occasions separations. Some will always be for Him, and some will always be against Him. Therefore, the Master warns His followers of all generations, by stating; “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

These separations will appear even in the most sacred circles. A man will be at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother. A man’s enemies shall be those within his own home. No tie, however tender, should be allowed to keep one from fidelity to Christ. According to Jesus, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He continued by also declaring, “And he who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of Me.”

The sacrifice may involve life itself according to Jesus, “And he [or she] who does not take up his [or her] cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” The cross is an instrument depicting death. It is used here for the first time in the story. Matthew may be regarded as the gospel of rejection, therefore, at the end of His pathway Jesus saw a dark cross on the horizon. And it was under the shadow of that cross that most of His work was accomplished.

It was not unnatural therefore, that His followers should likewise endure something of His suffering and even for His sake should they lay down their lives. Have we determined to do just that as we approach the end of this evil and corrupt age? Have we determined to endure to the end no matter what suffering and persecution comes our way? And if not, why not? In the heat of that cruel battle is not the time to make that determination!

The Master seems to picture a long procession of men, women, and young people each bearing a cross to the place of death. He indicates, however, that such sacrifice will result in the largest life both here and hereafter. For according to Jesus, “He [or she] who finds his [or her] life will lose it, and he [or she] who loses his [or her] life for My sake will find it.”

More Scripture To Consider:
“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 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.” Matthew 10.40-42

Something Else To Consider:
The Final words of this commission, addressed by the King to His messengers, embody another statement of encouragement. He has already assured them of the protection of the Father and of the glory which He will bestow. He now declares that they will not be without sympathy from men. He also indicates the blessedness of those who in any age, show kindness and give relief to such as are testifying for Him.

Jesus declared that one who receives His messenger is in a real sense receiving the King Himself, and that whoever receives a prophet who is speaking for the King, shall partake in the reward of the prophet; and that he who receives a righteous man, that is, one who is proclaiming the law of the King and is presumably observing the law himself, will partake in the reward of the righteous.

Jesus even promises that one who gives a cup of cold water to a disciple, because he is a disciple, will receive a sure reward. It is not given to all men to be public messengers like the twelve apostles, but all can share in their work and can become partakers of their glory and their joy by showing them sympathy and by offering to them help and relief in the name of the Lord.

Something More To Consider:
In essence, our lives, our actions, our words, everything about us is either confessing Jesus Christ or denying Jesus Christ to an onlooking world. Therefore, as we confess Jesus before the world, we become an encouragement not only to Jesus but to those around us. If we choose to deny Jesus, we then become a discouragement to Jesus to the point of Jesus promising to deny us before His Father in heaven.

I can think of no worse outcome of a life lived than to become a discouragement to Jesus and publicly denied being known before an Almighty God. And yet, there are those who would attempt to argue with Jesus concerning the importance of our confessing Christ or being denied all the eternal rewards otherwise promised in the Word of God.

There are those who would want to debate Jesus’ instructions to fear or reverence God, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. And yet, all of man’s arguing and or debating would be futile in the end. The bottom line is that there is great encouragement and comfort in our faithfully confessing Jesus Christ on a daily basis; just as there is great danger in our denying Jesus on a daily basis.

A Few Final Words:
In conjunction with our confessing Jesus Christ on a daily basis through living a godly life in accordance with the Word of God; Jesus commands us to take up our own cross and to follow Him. But what does it mean to take up our own cross? To answer that question, we need to investigate what it meant for Jesus to live in the shadow of His cross. In Luke 9.23, Jesus expanded His instruction by stating, “If any man [woman] will come after Me, let him [or her] deny himself [or herself], and take up his [or her] cross daily and follow Me.”

According to Jesus, living in the shadow of His cross means we must deny ourselves as did Jesus. But what are we to deny? According to Jesus and earlier lessons, we are to deny ourselves the anxiety of fear that accompanies persecution, the real possibility of death, and the temptation of denying Jesus.

Also, according to Jesus, we are to deny ourselves the energy and human folly of finding our lives and living our lives as if we are sitting upon our own earthly throne. In other words, who is it that is in charge of our lives on a daily basis? Who is it that is truly in control of our daily actions, thoughts, and agendas? Are we in control or is Jesus, the Word of God come in the flesh in and through the person of Jesus?

In Closing:
We are to deny living in accordance with the lusts of our own flesh, the lust of our own eyes, and according to the lust of protecting and promoting our own pride of life. In short, living in the shadow of Christ’s cross means we follow His example rather than the world’s evil alternative. Therefore, there is tremendous comfort and encouragement in confessing Jesus and in our living daily in the shadow of Christ’s all comforting cross.

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your written and eternal encouragement found within Your Word concerning our confessing Jesus Christ. And thank You Father for Your lessons of a lifetime that reveals our need to be found living in the shadow of Christ’s cross. May we learn every lesson and observe every teaching of Jesus, our Lord and example for righteous living among so much end time evil. In Him Always, Amen!

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