Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.”
This is week 47, Matthew, part 45 in the series. Today, Pastor G talks about Matthew 10:19-23 as Jesus continues giving instructions to The Twelve as they prepare to go out on their first ministry and missionary trip without Jesus. Jesus assures them the Holy Spirit will give them the words to say when they find themselves being persecuted. He also continues to warn them of an ever-increasing antagonistic world system bend on persecuting Christianity and Christians.
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:2
But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who are speaking, but it is the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you. ~ Matthew 10:19-20
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:8-12
But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” ~ Acts 4:19-20
We talked a lot last week about Jesus’ prophecies of the end times, when the world system will rise up against all Christians, everywhere, and we will be arrested, imprisoned, questioned, persecuted, flogged, killed. When that day comes for you and me, as it did for the early disciples, will we be so bold? When the days of true persecution come, worldwide tribulation comes, will we be so full of faith? Will we be so full of the Spirit, like Peter and John, that we don’t have to worry about how to defend our faith? Will we be so full of the Spirit that we don’t fear prison, beatings or even death?
That does’t mean we are to act foolishly or rush headlong into danger. Jesus says be wary as serpents. Be aware, be careful. Stay alive and stay on earth as long as you can, spreading the news, winning as many to Christ as possible before your time is up.
Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. ~ Matthew 10:21
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away, and brought him before the Council. They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man does not stop speaking against this holy place and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who were sitting in the Council stared at him, and they saw his face, which was like the face of an angel. ~ Acts 6:8-15
The Holy Spirit finally speaks through Stephen in most of chapter seven, a profound sermon, expounding the truth of the Old Testament Scriptures and a recounting of who Jesus actually is and the terrible sins committed against Him. Those accusing Stephen were furious at his words! Acts says they gnashed their teeth at him and beat him to death by throwing stones at him.
And you will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. ~ Matthew 10:22
One day, the world system will be so corrupt, so evil, so anti-God that all Christians will be hated by all non-Christians and that possibly includes some of your current friends and family. Jesus wants us to be fully aware of what we are signing up for and He reminds us we need to endure to the end to be saved.
In Matthew 10:33 Jesus says “whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny him before My Father in heaven.” In Matthew 24:10 Jesus says MANY WILL fall away from the faith and will betray one another and hate one another. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 that in the later times many will depart from the faith and devote themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons and evil liars. In 2 Timothy 2:12 Paul echo’s Jesus’ teaching and says, IF we endure, we will also reign with Him, but if we deny Him, He will also deny us. Hebrews 3:12 says Take care that not one of you who believes develops an evil, unbelieving heart that causes you to fall away from the Living God. And there are MANY other passage like this!
Real Christianity is not for the weak-willed or the faint-hearted. That’s why Jesus repeatedly tells us to count the cost before we sign on to follow Him. Following Jesus is about picking up OUR cross and following Him ALL THE WAY to our own Calvary.
But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next… ~ Matthew 10:23a
A common misunderstanding of Christ’s teaching on violence and persecution is that believers are to passively and meekly do nothing while they are being assaulted or murdered. While revenge and violence are not, at all, part of a biblical response that does not mean believers cannot seek to avoid harm when possible. It’s okay to run away when someone is trying to hurt you. Stay alive as long as you can. The longer you can live and speak the more you can testify and the more people you may be able to introduce to the Lord.
Now, the second half of this verse has created A LOT of controversy.
… you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. ~ Matthew 10:23b
How can that be true? Did the second coming of Jesus happen before the disciples got done sharing the Gospel in Israel? Did we miss it? Was Jesus wrong? Was He talking about something else when He refers to the Son of Man coming? What in the world did He mean by this? THAT’s what we’re going to talk about NEXT WEEK! So you have to come back.