In His Name
July 2, 2023 |In His Name |Matthew 10:40-42
Open your bibles to Matthew 10. This morning, we are in our third week of looking at Jesus’ instruction to his disciples found there. Matthew 10.
We began by examining the motivation of Jesus as well as how he motivated his disciples, which we saw was compassion. Last week we looked at the division that Jesus coming into the world brings to his disciples, and that as God he demands our highest affections. This morning we will look at Jesus’ closing words before the Bible says in Matthew chapter 11, ‘When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples…’
As we noted last week, this section contains perhaps Jesus’ greatest and most thorough teachings on discipleship. Here in his closing remarks, Jesus offers three remarkable statements as he concludes his instruction to the twelve before they are sent out.
It is the implications from those three remarkable truths from Jesus’ instruction that we are going to look at this morning.
The first is…
In receiving God’s messenger, it is as though we receive God himself.
Matthew 10:40 (ESV) 40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.
The tense and mood of the verbs helps us understand what Jesus is saying here.
“In the act of receiving you, the person actually receives me.”
“In the act of receiving me, the person actually receives him who sent me.” Who is ‘Him who sent me’ We know the answer to that, but for clarity’s sake, let us hear it straight from Jesus.
John 12:49-50 (NASB) 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
The remarkable truth is in receiving God’s messenger, it is as though we receive God himself.
Which leads us to ask, what does it mean to receive someone in this context?
Receives-(Olive Tree Enhanced Strong's Dictionary) used of a place receiving one; to receive or grant access to, a visitor, not to refuse friendship; to receive hospitality; to receive into one's family to bring up or educate
-of the thing offered in speaking, teaching, instructing; to receive favorably, give ear to, embrace, make one's own, approve, not to reject
-to receive. i.e. to take upon one's self, sustain, bear, endure
The context of Jesus' previous words here in Matthew 10 helps us to understand what he means here.
Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV) 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
The idea is someone who does not welcome one, does not show hospitality, does not receive them as messengers and therefore does not listen to their words. So receiving the disciples would be the opposite of that, welcoming them in, showing hospitality, and receiving not only the messenger but the message.
According to Jesus, reception or rejection of his messenger equates to reception or rejection of him. He says as much when he later sends out the 72 disciples, recorded in Luke 10:16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
The idea is that God will hold men and women accountable for their rejection of his messengers and therefore his message.
According to Jesus, reception or rejection of his messenger equates to reception or rejection of him.
Now, if we are honest, this statement is a little on the shocking side, isn’t it? Think about the implications in our immediate context.
The disciples come into a town proclaiming the kingdom of heaven has come and their message is confirmed by their ministry of healing. If someone welcomes them, listens to their message and believes it, it is as though Christ himself has brought the message in the name of the Father. If they reject them, refuse to listen to their message or reject it upon hearing it, it is as though they have rejected Christ himself and therefore the one who sent him. They have rejected God based on their reception of his messengers.
How can this be?
This has to do with the authority given the disciple.
The bible says at the beginning of our chapter, (ESV) 1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
They were told to Matthew 10:7 (ESV) 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Because they are acting under his authority and as his representatives, it matters how someone responds to them.
This we understand, right?
The United States Secretary of State's recent trip to China has been all over the news. Part of the secretary of state’s responsibilities is to represent the United States in areas of foreign policy. When he sits at a table, he represents the president of the United States, who under our constitution is responsible for determining US foreign policy. To receive him is like receiving the president himself. Inversely, to reject him would be to reject the president and in turn reject the country he leads.
Or to bring it a little closer to home-(Sending one child to tell another child something from a parent, busy cooking, tell Lydia to go tell Lilly to take out the trash.
‘Dad said’ are magic words, right?
This is both a blessing, knowing that we go in the authority of Christ when we go into the world to make disciples, but it is also a weighty responsibility. For, if we are to take Christ at his word here, then what we say and what we do, we say and do in the name of the one who sent us.
Jesus gave us a similar authority when he said to all disciples in the great commission. Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In a few weeks, we are going to have the pleasure of witnessing a baptism here of a man who has recently surrendered his life to the Lord. In that ordinance, as I lower him under the water I am going to declare that I am doing it in the name of the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the command to baptize believers comes from Jesus, not me. He is not baptized in my name, he is not baptized in Emmanuel Baptist Church’s name, he is baptized in the name of the thrice holy, triune God of the Bible, right?
The authority to administer this outward sign of his salvation was given to the church by Christ to carry out in his name.
Now, for argument's sake, let us suppose that he had come to faith in Jesus, but when I told him he needed to be baptized, he would not. For whatever reason, he did not want to submit to the ordinance.
You see don't you? That would not be a rejection of me, but a rejection of Christ’s command.
That would not be a failure to submit to me, but to Christ.
In the same way, when we declare what we have been commanded to declare to the people we have been commanded to declare it, and it is rejected, it is not their rejection of us or our message that condemns them but their rejection of the one who sent us.
This is freeing.
Take the disciples for example.
When someone rejected them or their message, Christ told them what to do.
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
They were not responsible for the reception or rejection of their message of the gospel, merely the right presentation of it.
They were not even to remain and try again, when they were rejected they were to move on, letting the people know by the symbolic act of shaking the dust from their feet that they would not return nor would they be responsible for the inhabitants of that place.
You cannot control whether someone will receive you and your message or reject you and your message, you cannot control what they think about it or what they do with it. You are responsible to be a faithful messenger, nothing more and nothing less, leaving the rest up to God.
You are responsible to be a faithful messenger, nothing more and nothing less, leaving the rest up to God.
The first truth we find in our text is In receiving God’s messenger, it is as though we receive God himself, the second is…
In receiving God’s laborer, it is as though we labor for God himself.
Matthew 10:41 (ESV) 41 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.
Jesus moves from the reception of the disciples by those they are being sent to a more generalized statement of principle.
He uses a simple pattern, which he repeats twice.
The one who receives X, because he is X, will receive a reward fitting X.
The first example is a prophet, the second a righteous man.
A prophet is someone who has been given a message to deliver from God. in the first century, they are mentioned as both foretelling God’s future purposes or forth telling God’s truth to a particular situation or a particular group of people.
Again, it is the idea of God’s messenger.
A righteous man is a little more difficult to understand. The word is used to refer to those who think they possess, in and of themselves, a righteous by their strict adherence to God’s law, like the Pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus’ day. But the word can also mean one who is morally upright, one who is walking in obedience to God, one who has been made right with God.
I think it is talking about the second one here. Someone who has a heart for God.
However, Jesus doesn’t spend any time fleshing who these men are, but rather focuses on the one given the opportunity to receive them.
Having touched on what it means to receive already, we will merely note that it seems to be in reference to receiving the prophet or the righteous man in the midst of their fulfilling their God given calling because Jesus mentions their rewards, seemingly for being faithful to their calling.
What is interesting to note is the motive for reception.
Motive- The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet, the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person.
A reward is not the motive. Giving something to get something is not the way the economy of God works, despite what the tv preachers may try and tell you!
The motive is recognizing that this person is either on mission from God with a message from God, as the case with the prophet, or walking in obedience to God, as in the case with the righteous man.
The motive is love for God, evidenced by the reception of his people. We will touch on this more in a moment, but for now, it is enough to highlight the motive in these dual statements.
Having received the prophet or the righteous man with the right motives, the recipient is said to share in the same reward as the one they received.
Now, at first, this seems even more radical than the first statement Jesus made.
If a prophet came to town with a message from God and someone opened their home, supported the efforts of the prophet, and received the message God had given, then they receive the same reward as the prophet, who had left their home and went on a mission from God? That hardly seems like a fair deal, does it?
Or if a righteous man, in pursuit of obedience to God needed a place to stay or a hot meal, and someone provided it for them, they would receive the same reward as the righteous man?
It’s preposterous, and yet Jesus says it clearly, does he not?
This is when we have to remember that it is God’s rewards, he can give them as he pleases. Amen?
Do you remember the parable of the day laborers that Jesus tells?
The master of a house went out early to hire day laborers for his vineyard for a denarius a day, most likely around 6am, the start of the Jewish day. Then at 9am he went out and hired some more, and then at noon some more, and then at 3pm, then at 5pm, right before the end of the work day at 6pm. Much to the surprise of those hired first, the master paid them all the same wage. When they challenged his fairness, this was what he said.
Matthew 20:13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
First, we remember that we are not to concern ourselves with what others are given, second, we must understand that God ordains the means, not just the ends. If it is God’s will that we receive a laborer to help them and we do it, it is our obedience that is rewarded, as it is theirs. God sent them and he very well may have chosen you to be the means by which they are able to complete their mission.
There is a great Old Testament story that illustrates what it looks like to receive a prophet that I want us to briefly look at this morning.
2 Kings 4:8-10 (ESV) 8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
Here is a great example. This woman could not perform the miracles Elisha did. She did not have a divine message to deliver to the king of Israel. She could not predict life, death, victory, and defeat like Elisha did.
But she had material things, she had food, she had money to build a small room on the roof of her house, she had money to outfit it so that when Elisha came through that way as he served God, he would have a comfortable place to rest.
Did you notice her motive?
I know that this is a holy man of God. It was on account of the God he served that she wanted to do this for him, asking nothing in return.
However, because of her kindness, Elisha does reward her. Her immediate, earthly reward was that she was not only blessed with a son in her old age, but that when that son tragically died, he was restored back to her.
But according to Jesus here, her reward would be the same as Elisha’s. That is a pretty incredible statement isn’t it?
Far from being unfair, this is God’s generosity on full display.
Whatever reward is awaiting a faithful prophet, whatever award is awaiting a righteous man, if we will be obedient when opportunity presents itself for us to receive them, we are promised the same reward.
How can this be?
I think it is because it is love for him that is rewarded, not the tasks we carry out in his name. Motive matters.
Jesus says that if we love God and therefore love his people by providing what reception we can when the opportunity presents itself, it will not go unrewarded, and more so, it will be rewarded in accord to the one we receive.
The second truth we find is In receiving God’s laborer, it is as though we labor for God himself, the third is…
In ministering to God’s people, it is as though we minister to God himself.
Matthew 10:42 (ESV) 42 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.”
Verse 42 brings the situation of verse 40 (the sending out of the disciples) and the principle of verse 41 (the rewards for receiving one of God’s laborers) and seemingly puts them together into an incredible statement.
For many years, I misunderstood this verse. Brittany and I used to serve with an organization that would set up a tent at biker rallies and hand out cups of cold water or hot coffee and this verse was often thrown around as the reason we did it, which when stated out of context, you can see why someone could get that.
42 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.”
I always assumed that it was the disciple who gave the cup of cold water because he was a disciple.
I was reading this passage a couple of weeks ago and I told Brittany, I don't think that means what I had heard it meant.
You see the pattern we established in verse 41 is the context.
Remember the pattern, the one who receives X, because he is X, will receive a reward fitting X.
Jesus uses a similar pattern, tweaking it a little to teach us something new, but it is there nonetheless.
You change the action from ‘receiving’ to giving a cup of cold water, you change ‘prophet’ to one of these little ones, and the type of rewards ‘a prophet’s reward’ to the assurance of the reward, he will by no means lose his reward, and you can see the similarities.
In the Greek, it has the same grammatical format.
Why is this important? Because, once you understand that it is not the disciple who gives the cold water, but the disciple who receives it, it opens this statement up to its full impact.
It changes from the idea from philanthropy of a disciple being rewarded to the treatment of a disciple being rewarded. And if there was any lingering confusion about who is giving the cold water and who is receiving it, scripture clears it up for us in a simple cross reference of Jesus’ teachings.
In Mark 9, the disciples tell Jesus about trying to stop someone from doing something in Jesus’ name because he was not one of them.
38-41 (ESV) 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us.
But then he goes further and says, 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
With that understanding, let us dig a little deeper into our text here in Matthew.
Surely the disciples, as they go out to represent Christ deserve reception.
Surely a great prophet deserves reception.
Surely a righteous man deserves reception.
But Jesus brings it down to one of these little ones. The smallest disciple.
The brand new believers, the young disciple, the baby Christians, and says, reception done for Christ’s sake is important enough to be rewardable. There is no one unimportant in the kingdom of heaven because they belong to Christ.
Secondly, look at the service rendered. He does not mention welcoming them into one’s home, he does not mention feeding or clothing, but the simple and easy act of offering a cup of cool water to a thirsty disciple is counted by God as a rewardable action.
Why? Because Christ considers it to have been done to him.
Isn’t that what he teaches in the passage where he describes the great separation of those that belong to him and those that do not?
As way of illustration, let’s briefly consider the scene Jesus paints for us in Matthew 25.
Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV) 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43
I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,
naked and you did not clothe me,
sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Jesus says here that what we do for the least of his brothers, read: his disciples, it is in a very real way, as though we did it for him. The list here again is not extravagant actions, but simply providing what is needed for one of Jesus’ disciples.
Food when they are hungry, water when they are thirsty, hospitality when they are in need, clothing when they are without, comfort when they need it, and presence when they are alone.
Jesus is very plain here when he says, acts of need meeting kindness done to his people are done to him.
In our text in Matthew 10 and Mark 9 we find out why.
Because they are a disciple, because they belong to him.
If you love Jesus, then you will love the things Jesus loves. Isn’t that the way it works in our lives?
If you love Jesus, then you will love the things Jesus loves.
We love the things that those we love, love, because we love them.
Ex- Volleyball, legos, tumbling, shopping
When Mrs. Linda came to watch Lilly play volleyball and cheered her on, I felt like a kindness had been done to me.
When someone loves my kids, when they interact with them or bring them a treat, or whatever it is, I feel like a kindness has been done to me. Why? Because I love my kids and a kindness done to them is a kindness done to me. If we who are imperfect parents with an imperfect love can understand that, how much more is that true of Jesus who perfectly loves his brethren?
Friends, do you want to serve the Lord? Serve his people.
You want to express your love to Jesus, love his people.
Jesus measures our love, not in how passionately we sing to him, not in how faithful our attendance is, but rather in the way we treat other disciples, especially those that the world considers unimportant or unprestigious.
Furthermore, Jesus isn’t only concerned with large displays of affection.
A cup of cold water to a thirsty brother or sister, a warm word to a discouraged disciple, a meal to a sick church member, a visit to a lonely follower of Christ. These are the things Jesus lists as important.
If you take nothing else from this morning, get these two statements.
There is no disciple too insignificant to serve.
There is no act of service too insignificant to count.
There is no disciple too insignificant to serve.
There is no act of service too insignificant to count.
Three simple but profound truths this morning that all point to the inescapable notion, that it matters how we treat one another.
God cares how we treat his people. Whether that be welcoming them well, partnering with them as they fulfill their calling, or ministering to them in their times of need, it matters to God.
And friend, if it matters to God, it ought to matter to us...