Matthew 10:16 – 11:19

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 16, 2006

Matthew 10

Jesus had been ministering to greater and greater crowds.  At one point early in His ministry, He said,

(Mat 9:37-38 NKJV)  …"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. {38} "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

Jesus then spent the entire next night doing exactly that – praying.

The next morning He picked out twelve men from the group that had been following Him, gave them authority to perform miracles, and gave them instructions before sending them out on their own for a short term mission trip.  We’re in the middle of His instructions to these twelve.

He’s already instructed them to speak only to Jews on this trip.
He’s prepared them to live by faith, to trust God to provide on this trip.
He’s taught them to give a blessing of peace to those who welcome them.

:16-25 Expect Difficulty

:16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

:17 "But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.


Expect Difficulty

Serving God is not about staying in fancy hotels and having people pat you on the back.
Serving God may require sacrifice. It may require opposition. It may require sacrifice.
I think that sometimes we do people a disservice in giving the impression that becoming a Christian is all about “having your needs met”. We make Jesus out to be the ultimate psychologist, the ultimate doctor, the ultimate welfare director.

Please don’t misunderstand me – Jesus came to save us and help us. But following Him is more like signing up with the Marines and being sent to Iraq than it is winning the lottery and taking a cruise to Mexico.


A lonely frog telephoned the Psychic Hotline and asked what his future holds. His Personal Psychic Advisor tells him, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.” The frog is thrilled, “This is great! Will I meet her at a party?” he croaks. “No,” says the psychic, “in biology class.”

Expect trouble as a Christian.  It’s what’s up ahead of us.
(2 Tim 3:12 NKJV)  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

:18 "You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.

Paul stood before governors and kings.

:19 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;

:20 "for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

I’ve heard pastors use this as an excuse not to prepare for their message on Sunday.

The context here is about going out in the world, facing persecution, and God giving you a message to reply.

There is also a principle to learn to rely on the Holy Spirit no matter where you are.

:21 "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.

:22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

If you are in need of people “liking” you, then you’re going to have a tough time as a Christian.

:23 "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

:24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

:25 "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, how much more will they call those of his household!

Beelzebub – another name for Satan. It is a parody on the name of a Philistine god, Baal-zebub, which meant “lord of the fly”

Jesus was ridiculed. Don’t be surprised when you are too.

:26-31 Fear God

:26 "Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

You may think that other people aren’t getting caught and that they get away with hurting others, but it ain’t so.

:27 "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.


A message from God

Jesus has things for us to say.
We need to learn to receive from the Lord and then share what He teaches us.
This is part of the prophet Ezekiel’s call:

(Ezek 3:1 NLT) The voice said to me, "Son of man, eat what I am giving you--eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel."

“Eating the scroll” is taking what God gives to you. And then turning around and sharing it with others.

God desires to teach each of us. It is important that we cultivate a time of study and prayer each day – letting God teach us and lead us.
There’s a phrase found in the book of Jeremiah that speaks of how God spoke to the various prophets sent to Israel:

 (Jer 7:25 NKJV)  "Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them.

(Jer 11:7 NKJV)  'For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, "Obey My voice."

(Jer 25:3 NKJV)  "From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, this is the twenty-third year in which the word of the LORD has come to me; and I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened.

(Jer 25:4 NKJV)  "And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear.

The phrase “rising early” is found 11 times in the book of Jeremiah.  In my mind it works like this – the men who spoke from God got up early in the morning to hear from God.  And when God spoke to them, they turned around and spoke to the people.

I’m not sure I’d use the phrase “message from God” too lightly.  I’ve seen people abuse this by trying to get people to do things for them by saying that “God told me to tell you…”

But on the other hand, I still think God wants to speak to us.  God wants to give us direction.  And from time to time God will give us something to say to someone.  And I’d say, “I’ve been praying for you and I feel like I need to say something to you…”

We need to cultivate the discipline of spending time with God.

:28 "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.

People can kill your body, but they can’t touch your soul.

God is the one we should fear.

We should be more afraid of what God thinks than what people think.

At the end of the day, the people in front of you aren’t going to determine where you spend eternity. God is.

:29 "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.

:30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

:31 "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

You are precious to God.  If God is concerned about sparrows, He’s certainly concerned about you.

God knows exactly what is happening to you.

:32-33 Publicly follow Him

:32 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.

:33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Jesus calls His followers to follow Him openly.

:34-39 Jesus brings division

:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

When Jesus comes into your life – there will a division that occurs with other people.

This doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to be obnoxious and provoke trouble with people.

But most of the world isn’t going to applaud you for following Jesus.

:35 "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';

:36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'

:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

Jesus isn’t against families.

But His heart is that we value Him more than we value our family.

When a family member tells us to stop going to church and being a Christian, we choose Jesus.

:38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

What is my “cross”?

A cross was a means of punishment.  Today we might say, “I take up my gas chamber and follow Jesus…”

I think the context speaks of the difficulties we will face as we follow Jesus Christ.
We must learn to accept the difficulties that accompany being a Christian.

:39 "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.


Saving your life

If you want to live for yourself, you will lose your life in hell.
If you give up your life to follow Jesus, then you will find eternal life.
An older couple is lying in bed one morning, having just awakened from a good night’s sleep. He takes her hand and she responds, “Don’t touch me.” “Why not?” he asks. She answers back, “Because I’m dead.” The husband says, “What are you talking about? We’re both lying here in bed together and talking to one another.” She says, “No, I’m definitely dead.” He insists, “You’re not dead. What in the world makes you think you’re dead?” “Because I woke up this morning and nothing hurts.”
There’s a truth there – when we learn to “die to our self”, the things of the world don’t hurt as much. Lose your life for Jesus.

:40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

:41 "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.

:42 "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."

Remember that the disciples are being sent out on a short mission trip to tell people about Jesus.

If someone takes one of the disciples into their house, then when it comes time to get rewards when Jesus returns, those people will receive a reward equal to what the disciple receives.

In other words, there are BIG BONUSES for those who support the work of God.

Jesus mentions three groups of people being helped: Prophets, righteous men, and little ones.

There’s a progression here.  Those that help a “prophet” receives the same reward as the prophet.  But even those who help a “little one” will receive a reward as well.

Who are the “little ones”?  The “little ones” are the disciples that Jesus is sending. Kind of pops the bubble doesn’t it?

Don’t think of yourself any more than you ought. It’s okay to be a “little one”.

Matthew 11

:1-6 John’s struggle of faith

:1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.

Does this mean that Jesus assigned “cities” to each disciple?  And after sending them out, He goes to their “cities”?


:2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples

:3 and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"

The purpose of John’s ministry was about getting Israel ready for their Savior, their Messiah.

When Jesus first showed up to be baptized by John, John made a statement:

(John 1:36 NKJV)  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
It seemed clear to John that Jesus was the Messiah.

After that point, Jesus’ ministry began to grow and grow.

Even before John the Baptist had been arrested, the ministry of Jesus had already outgrown John’s (John 3:21-36).

And during that time, John still seemed to understand who Jesus was.
(John 3:29 NKJV)  "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.

But things changed.  John got into trouble with King Herod by preaching against the sins of the king.  Herod had John arrested.

And it sounds as if John is beginning to wonder if Jesus was the real Messiah or not.

Perhaps John expected Jesus to perform a miracle and have John released.  Perhaps it didn’t make sense to John for him to be in prison when Jesus was on his side.


Trials and dark days

Keep in mind that Jesus doesn’t rebuke John for his lack of faith.
Part of a believer’s life will be those dark days when we go through difficult times.
Job didn’t understand why his world had fallen apart.
David went through great darkness as his own king turned against him.
Elijah ran from Jezebel and hid in a cave.
Jeremiah despaired for his life when he was arrested and thrown into the muddy pit.
The life of faith is about learning to trust God in all things, especially through the dark times.
(Heb 11:13-16 NKJV)  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. {14} For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. {15} And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. {16} But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
We too are going to go through times when life doesn’t make sense.  We have to keep our eyes set ahead, set on Jesus.
(2 Cor 4:16-18 NKJV)  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, {18} while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

:4 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:

:5 "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Jesus is alluding to the Old Testament description of the coming Messiah:

(Isa 29:18-19 KJV)  And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. {19} The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

(Isa 35:5-6 KJV)  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. {6} Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

(Isa 61:1-3 KJV)  The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; {2} To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; {3} To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.


Trust the Word

There are going to be times when we, like John, find ourselves in a prison of despair.
We need to cling to the promises of God.
Jesus taught His disciples how to survive the storms of life:
(Mat 7:24-27 KJV)  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

We survive the storms of life by hearing the Word and doing it.

:6 "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."

This is the message to John – don’t give up believing in Jesus.

:7-19 Jesus teaches about John

:7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

John was not some flimsy guy who bent with every new whim and trend.

:8 "But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

John wasn’t a well-dressed, wealthy healthy guy.  He was dressed in camel-hair garments and ate bugs.

:9 "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.

:10 "For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'

Jesus is quoting from the last book of the Old Testament:

(Mal 3:1 KJV)  Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

There is also a hint of another prophecy of Malachi here as well:

(Mal 4:5 NKJV)  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

John had a special place in the plan of God.  John’s purpose was to get people ready for the Messiah.

:11 "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

John was tops as far as men on the earth.

But in heaven, things are different.  Even the least of those in heaven is better than the best of men on earth.

:12 "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

suffer violencebiazo – to use force, to apply force; inflict violence on

There are two possible ideas here:

One idea:
There have been many who have attacked God’s plans on earth.  And in John’s day, John was an example as he sat in prison (“suffers violence”).  There would be those such as the Pharisees who would want to highjack the plans of God to force them into their own mold (“the violent take it by force”)
Another idea:
It’s not “violence”, but “force”.  The kingdom is open to those who will seize it.  It is available for men who will press in and seek God’s face.

:13 "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

:14 "And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.

The messages of all the prophets and that of John the Baptist were about the coming Messiah, Jesus.

If you will receive the truth of the message about Jesus being the Messiah, then John fulfills the role of the prophet Elijah (Mal. 4:5), who would prepare the people for the Lord’s coming.

:15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

:16 "But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,

:17 "and saying: 'We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not lament.'

The people of Jesus’ day were acting like children.  Children want you to play their game.  They want things done their way.

:18 "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'

John was condemned by the people because he practices fasting.

:19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children."

Jesus was condemned by the people because He didn’t fast.


Pleasing people

You can’t please everyone.
If you go through life trying to please people, you’ll be a mess.
An old fable that has been passed down for generations tells about an elderly man who was traveling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind.  The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal’s back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride.  So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal’s back and continued on his way.  In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride.  So the man climbed on and they set off again.  In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.  The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.
The moral of the story:  We can’t please everybody, and if we try we end up carrying a heavy burden.
It is better that we learn to please God.  Learn what God wants.  Do what God wants.  One of the great added benefits of obedience to God is answered prayer.
(1 John 3:22 NKJV)  And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

At first glance this verse can sound a little legalistic – you won’t get your prayers answered unless you live a perfect life.  But R.A. Torrey has a great comment about this verse:

“If we give a listening ear to all God’s commands to us, He will give a listening ear to all our petitions to Him.  If, on the other hand, we turn a deaf ear to His precepts, He will be likely to turn a deaf ear to our prayers.” (“How to Pray”, R.A. Torrey, pg.32)

It’s all about developing relationship. 

I can expect God to reciprocate when I’m seriously paying attention to Him.  He will pay attention to me.