“I tell you the truth…” Matthew 10:15
This riveting passage reflects Jesus’ deep desire to see the Jews return to the God of their fathers. Jesus had called His disciples together and bestowed them with the power to drive out evil spirits, as well as to heal all kinds of sickness and disease (read 10:1). During this episode of His ministry Jesus sent the disciples out to “…the lost sheep of Israel…” (v. 6). In fact, He specifically instructed them not to go near the gentiles (non Jews) or Samaritans (who originated through the Jewish line, but were seen as genetically and spiritually polluted). They were instructed to preach a very simple message: “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near.” (v.7) As they preached, they were instructed to go throughout the area healing people and casting out demons (v. 8). He gave them this mandate with the description of their ministry: “Freely you have received, freely give.” In other words, it had not cost them anything to receive these gifts and abilities, so they should use them freely and administer them without expecting any compensation.
They were not to take any provisions, only to proceed in faith that God would supply their needs. They were directed to search for a worthy person who would accept them and care for them until it was time for them to leave. While they were there, they were to seek the peace of that household and bless it with the peace of God (v.’s 9-13). If the disciples were rejected by a community or town, they were to go outside the town and shake the dust of that area off their sandals to symbolize the judgment those people will one day face before God (v. 14). Then Jesus utilized biblical history to reveal an eternal truth when He stated, “ITYTT, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town” (v. 15). He provided clarification in the following verses, stating: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (v.’s 32-33). Jesus further condemned the rejection of His message in Matthew 11:20-24, after He had entered the disciples’ hometowns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum and been rejected – even after displaying miraculous healings!
What a terrible fate awaits those who reject the truth of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. It causes me to pause and reflect on what ‘discipline’ will happen to the follower of Jesus who refuses to go and preach the message that the Kingdom of God is near. The great commission is a marching order, a directive to go and make disciples… a command that may not be met with favor by the world. Jesus had described the hostile treatment his disciples could expect during the exercise of their commission: “do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (v.’s 26-28). He was actually pointing to His own sacrificial death on the cross, and that He was not expecting them to do anything that He Himself would not do.
In this passage, we find two eternal truths: (1) Jesus’ perspective was an eternal one. (2) There will be a day of judgment for every single person. Those who reject Christ, will be rejected by God and face the destruction of their very soul. Those who accept Christ, will be accepted before the Father.
As we tell the world the Kingdom of God is near, we should expect no better treatment than that which Jesus and His disciples received. We are able to proceed in the power of another eternal truth: we will be approved by Jesus before the Father in heaven!
May that thought lead you into a blessed day!