Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 18 Mar. 2012
10:32 Therefore, whoever will
confess being with me in front of men,
I will also confess being with him in front of my Father in the heavens.
10:33 But whoever shall not speak up for me in front of men,
I will also not speak up for him in front of my Father in the heavens.
10:34 Don’t y’all start assuming
that I came in order to drop off peace onto the earth;
I didn’t come in order to drop off peace, but rather a sword!
10:35 For I came to divide
a man against his father
and a daughter against her mother
and a bride against her mother-in-law,
10:36 and the man’s enemies will be those of his household.
10:37 The one who loves father or mother above me is not worthy of me,
and the one who loves son or daughter above me is not worthy of me.
10:38 and he who is not accepting his cross and following after me is not worthy of me.
10:39 The one who has found his life will destroy it,
but the one who has destroyed his life for the sake of me, he will find it!
10:40 The one who is receiving y’all is receiving me,
and the one who is receiving me is receiving the One who commissioned me.
10:41 The one who receives a prophet in a prophet’s name will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous man in a righteous man’s name will receive a righteous man’s reward,
10:42 and who ever happens to provide drink to one of the little ones among these guys – a cold drink only, in a disciple’s name, I tell you truly, he shall never destroy his reward.
Subsequent scripture quotes in this sermon are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.
Last week, we looked at what it means to confess Christ. We saw that it includes: 1) belief that Jesus died to save you, 2) verbal proclamation of the same to others, and 3) actual obedience to God’s word. This requires a total life alignment to be with Christ instead of with the world.
This also means sacrificing the things of this world. Two weeks ago, Art Doolittle talked about making those sacrifices and enduring persecution. But this week I want to consider the question, “Is it worth all that?” Is confessing Christ worth losing family relationships over? It is worth getting killed over? Mathew Henry once wrote, “If religion be worth anything, it is worth everything.” And I believe God’s word teaches us that the prize is worth the price!
Pearl of Great Price parable (Mat. 13:44-46) “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found… and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Mat 10:38 and he who is not accepting his cross and following after me is not worthy of me.
καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐκ ἔστι μου ἄξιος.
a. This is the first mention of a cross in the New Testament.
b. The disciples may not have fully understood what Jesus meant when He said this, for He hadn’t been crucified yet, and the disciples weren’t expecting Him to be crucified.
c. But it was the Roman custom to make criminals carry the crosspieces of wood to the execution site before they were crucified. It was a symbol of embracing your own death.
d. In the future, this would be applied literally to Jesus’ disciples:
· Some of them were literally put to death by hanging on crosses like Jesus’.
· Jesus had already warned His disciples that death was a real possibility for following Him and told His disciples not to be afraid of dying: “Brother will deliver brother to death (v.21)… You will be hated by all because of my name (v.22)… Do not fear those who kill the body (v.28)… enemies will be in your own household (v.36).”
· This is also the point there Luke records Jesus as saying, “Count the cost.” Is it worth it to you to die rather than deny Christ? Is His life really worth dying for? Is it really a price you can pay? Yes, Yes, and Yes! More on that in the following verses!
· By the way, the fact that other martyrs besides Jesus were crucified should not confuse us into thinking that their suffering was all the same thing. Jesus’ death on the cross was unique; He alone was “made to be sin” on our behalf. He alone died to save sinners. No one else’s suffering could ever do that.
e. Now, whether or not we ever have to literally be crucified, and whether or not we ever have to face death of any sort at the hands of persecutors, we will all need to apply this figuratively:
· So many voices in our world say to “be yourself,” but Jesus is saying, “Die to yourself.”
· Don’t be Nate Wilson anymore; be Jesus instead.
· Don’t make a name for Jim Porter, make a name for Jesus Christ.
· Stop doing the will of Steve Miller and do the will of God. This is dying to yourself.
· Note that it is your own cross. Each man’s cross is unique, and the things you are called to lose as you die to yourself may be different from what God calls other people to lose. Don’t get derailed by wishing you had somebody else’s cross; it would not do for you.
f. This is not speaking of a one-time act, either. Maybe you died to yourself when you first became a Christian, but Jesus used a Present tense here which indicates a continual reckoning of oneself as dead and a continual following after Jesus in order to be worthy or fitting to be His disciple.
Really no other way would be fitting. Can you
imagine if you were in Jerusalem at the time of Christ and you ran into some
dude who said he was a follower of Christ:
“Really!” you ask excitedly, “Is He nearby?”
“No, I don’t think so,” the disciple replies, “He was heading up to Lebanon last I saw Him.”
“Is that so? Why is he going all the way out there?” you ask.
“Beats me. I didn’t particularly want to find out either.”
“But you’re a follower of His?” you ask.
“Oh yes,” he assures you.
“So what’s He like?” you ask eagerly.
“Well, he’s something else, that’s for sure!”
“Yeah, but you’re His disciple, so is the way you are a lot like the way He is?”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t say that! We’re not all that much alike. I’m my own man, really.”
“But you’re His disciple?”
Any thinking person would wonder how this dude could call himself a follower of Jesus if he isn’t actually following Jesus and if he is his own man and not really becoming like Jesus!
h. Luke 9:23 He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Mat 10:39 The one who has found his life will
but the one who has destroyed his life for the sake of me, he will find it!
ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὁ ἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν.
The verb tenses at the beginning of each phrase are
the Greek Aorist tense,
which some scholars interpret as past tense: “he who has found his life,”
and others interpret as timeless: “he who finds,”
but either interpretation is in contrast to the future tense in the last half of each phrase that everybody agrees on: “he will lose… he will find.”
· Here is a revelation of the future for us! If you were a stockbroker and you knew the future, you could clean up on the stock market, right? If you knew that, ten years from now, the price of gold will be ten times what it is now, you’d be buying all the gold you could. And if you knew that real estate values would steadily go down for the next century, you’d sell your houses and land now, even if it was at a loss, right?
· So here’s the inside scoop from the Lord and Creator of life about the future consequences of two courses of action: Finding and Losing.
1. Finding - Heuriskw
o Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: to come upon, hit upon, to meet with… to find a thing sought… to fall in with… come or return to a place
o “Find” in Matthew:
o Commentator William Hendriksen explains what “finding [your] life” means this way: “when the issue is between [Jesus] and what he considers his own interests, and he chooses the latter in order to find himself…”
Hendricksen goes on to compare this kind of
self-finding person to a lake without an outlet. Lakes that merely take
in water and have no streams running out of them become stagnant, the water
gets dirtier and dirtier because the water evaporates out of the lake and
leaves the junk behind to get more and more concentrated with junk. This is the
same kind of person as the one who “loves father or mother or son or
daughter more than” Jesus. (v.37)
The other course of action is…
2. Losing - Apollumi
o Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: “to destroy, put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin, render useless, to kill.” As you can see, this Greek word carries more connotations of violence and permanence than our English word “lose.”
o Apollumi in Matthew:
o Losing/destroying your life for Jesus’ sake is parallel to “confessing Jesus before men” in v.32. This is loving Jesus more than your own life and being willing to face martyrdom for declaring alignment with Christ.
o In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul demonstrates this attitude of losing himself, “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:4-11)
o Later on in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus expounds on this point: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” (Matt. 16:25-27, Mark 8:35-38)
o In Luke’s parallel account (17:32-33), Jesus adds an interesting command, “Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” What does Lot’s wife have to do with this principle of finding and losing? Remember that Lot and his wife lived in the wicked town of Sodom and were warned to leave before God destroyed the town with fire and brimstone. Lot was willing to lose his land and associations in Sodom when God said to lose it, but Lot’s wife had not really reconciled herself to cutting ties with Sodom, she wasn’t willing to lose it – so she looked back longingly at her town as it was being destroyed by God, and God destroyed her life by turning her into a pillar of salt. Strange but true. I don’t want any of you turning into pillars of salt, so “Remember Lot’s wife.” When God convicts you that you need to lose something in your life for His sake, don’t keep hanging on to it!
o John 12:25 “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”
· Note however, that this does not include throwing away your life for no good reason. Jesus is not condoning suicide or anything like that. It is only a life offered “for my sake” (and, as Mark adds, “for the sake of the Gospel”) . When we give of ourselves or our life, it should be for the sake of Jesus and His righteousness:
· One of the greatest illustrations of this paradox of losing and finding is the life of Jim and Elisabeth Elliott. After Jim Elliot was found in the mid-20th Century speared to death by Amazon jungle tribesmen, the journal of his efforts to reach these tribesmen with the Gospel was published as a book under the title of, Through Gates of Splendor. Here is one unforgettable quote from that journal: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim gave his life, which he wouldn’t have been able to preserve forever anyway, and then his wife gave up her dreams to live among that very tribe as a widow and preach the Gospel that her husband had died trying to tell them, and as a result of these two people who gave their lives literally and figuratively, the Waodani tribe has largely been won to Christ! Jim got what he wanted, both joy in the presence of Christ and joy in seeing lost souls saved, for Jesus tells us that there is joy in heaven when the lost are saved.
· Is it worth it to lose our life for the sake of Jesus? YES! And we see in the last three verses of this chapter an overview of the benefits!
Mat 10:40 ῾Ο δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με. 41 ὁ δεχόμενος προφήτην εἰς ὄνομα προφήτου μισθὸν προφήτου λήψεται, καὶ ὁ δεχόμενος δίκαιον εἰς ὄνομα δικαίου μισθὸν δικαίου λήψεται. 42 καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ποτίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ποτήριον ψυχροῦ μόνον εἰς ὄνομα μαθητοῦ, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ τὸν μισθὸν αὐτοῦ.
40 The one who is receiving y’all is receiving me,
and the one who is receiving me is receiving the one who commissioned me.
41 The one who receives a prophet in a prophet’s name will receive a prophet’s reward,
and the one who receives a righteous man in a righteous man’s name will receive a righteous man’s reward,
42 and who ever happens to provide drink to one of the little ones among these guys – a cold drink only, in a disciple’s name, I tell you truly, there’s no way he can destroy his reward.
There are two key terms in these last three verses: 1) “receive… in the name of”, and 2) “reward.” In these three verses, it is stated five times in a row that a certain kind of receiving is promised a reward! This must be very important to be repeated so many times!
· Some think this was just a term of endearment for His disciples,
· others think it refers to the lesser-known disciples like Bartholomew and Thaddeus,
· but I think Jesus was referring to the children of the disciples who may have been tagging along.
c. In some places in the Bible, misthon is used in the sense of wages or paychecks to pay a laborer fairly for what he has done for you, but our reward in heaven is not something we earn by good works on earth; it is a free gift from God given to us simply because He chose to love us. (Ephesians 2)
In these last three verses, I see four benefits in
particular listed to losing your life for Christ & confessing that you are
Reward #1: Community with Christians
What happens when we “receive” a fellow believer into our home and feed them? We create community with that person, and they become a friend. “The fellowship of the saints” which we confess in the Apostle’s Creed is a true blessing. No Christian who practices hospitality can be lonely!
Reward #2: Favor with God
In v. 40, Jesus says that if someone listens to and shows hospitality toward one of the disciples, it counts as though they are honoring Jesus, and it counts as though they are honoring God the Father in heaven Himself! That cup of cold water offered to a little one – “even to the least of these my brothers,” as Jesus would say later, is given to Him. What is God’s attitude towards you if you are always learning from Godly men and helping them out? We can’t say God is indebted to you for anything, but it sure is gratifying to Him, and He is sure to take delight in you. And when you show up in front of the throne on judgment day, He will deliver his judgment with a beaming smile of approval on you because your relationship has already grown close.
Reward #3: Acceptance of your
life-work on an equal par with superstars
Throughout the O.T. book of Leviticus there is a theme of acceptability before God. If a sacrifice was not perfect, it would not be received by God, and thus the supplicant would not be received before God (Lev. 19:7). This saying of Jesus teaches us that if you show this kind of kindness to a man of God, it will be acceptable; you will not be rejected, and what’s more, you will get the same reward he gets. If you could manage to deliver a cup of cold water to Billy Graham, you could get the same kind of reward in heaven that he will get! What a great equalizer of spiritual status! It doesn’t matter how unimportant you are on earth; if you have served a fellow-believer because you love God’s word, you’ll get just as good a reward as anybody else! Hurrah for the behind-the-scenes servants in our midst!
Reward #4: Eternal Life with God
The rewards that come from the hand of God in heaven will be worth whatever it costs in this life!
· James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (cf. Rev 2:8-10), and – if that is not enough –
· Revelation 21:7 “…he who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.”
 cf. Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age
 The closest I find to it is Heb 6:10 which speaks of showing love “in the name of [God]” through serving others. See also LXX of Prov 4:10.
 See word study on misthon in my sermon on Mat. 6:1-4 “How to Give so that you Get a Reward from God” (21 Aug 2011)
 Rom. 4:4, Matthew 20:8, Luke 10:7,1 Corinthians 9:17, 1 Timothy 5:18