Shall we turn now in our bibles to the tenth chapter of the gospel of Matthew?
In the beginning of the tenth chapter we find Christ sending His disciples out, telling them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But in the fact that He is sending them to go, in the first part of chapter ten, makes the last verse of chapter nine quite significant. For in the last verse of chapter nine, Jesus said to His disciples: "Pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest, that he will send forth labourers into His harvest" (9:38). And having told them to pray that the Lord will send workers into the harvest, the next thing He says is, "Go."
So many times as we pray, the Lord speaks to our own hearts. So many times we see a need and we think, oh what a need. The church really should be trying to fulfill that need, and we become all concerned with the need. And the Lord says, "Pray about it." And as we pray about it, suddenly we realize that God has called us. He has shown us the need, because He wants us to plug ourselves into the filling of that particular need. Many times the very fact that God has made you conscious and aware of that particular thing, is the beginning of the call of God upon your own life for that particular field of service.
So the Lord says pray, "Because harvest is plenteous, the labourers are few; pray that the Lord of harvest, will send forth labourers into his harvest" (9:37-38). Then in the very next section, the Lord says, "Now you go out into this harvest." And so praying so often prepares us for going. It is while I am praying that the Spirit of God can really get a hold of my heart.
As I've said, I do believe that prayer changes things, mainly me. I don't think that prayer changes God. I wouldn't really want prayer to change God. I think it would be extremely dangerous if prayer could change God. I think that God knows best in every situation. And I would not want to convince God, if I could, I can't, but if I could, I would not want to convince Him to see things my way. I would rather that through prayer the Spirit of God be able to get hold of my own heart and mold me, and shape me, into that which God has purposed, in that which God has designed. So often as I say, "Oh Lord, send forth workers into the harvest." Then I hear the call of God, "Who will go?" And I answer, "Oh Lord, here am I, send me."
And so Jesus said, "Pray the Lord of harvest," and then He says now you go.
And when he had called unto him the twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease (10:1).
Jesus is first of all empowering His disciples for that work before He sends them out to do the work, empowering them against unclean spirits, giving them the power to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease.
Now the names of the twelve apostles, and here they are first called apostles, because of the fact that He is sending them out. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent”. Up to this point they have been disciples, they've been learning of Him. They have been following Him and learning as He taught, but now the time has come for them to go out. They are now being sent by Him, and thus the change from disciple, a follower, to an apostle, one who has been sent.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican [or tax collector]; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him (10:2-4).
“Simon the Canaanite”, that word translated Canaanite is actually Canaanin. We are told in Luke's gospel that he was Simon the Zelotes (Luke 6:15).
Now Josephus tells us that the Zelotes were the extreme patriots. These were men who valued freedom above life itself. These were men who were willing to sacrifice their own lives, or even see their own families martyred, in order that they might be free. They preferred freedom to life. They were willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain freedom. They were the ones who rebelled constantly against the Roman government. Simon the Zelotes.
Matthew, a publican, was considered a quisling by the Jews. He was one that had more or less sold out to the enemy, because he was collecting taxes, for the hated Roman government.
Now had Simon and Matthew met under any other circumstances, Simon would have done Matthew in. I mean here you‘ve got a Zelote, one who hates the Roman yoke, one who is willing to fight to overthrow it, and you have another one who was almost in league with Rome, a turncoat so to speak. It's interesting though how that Christ takes people from many different backgrounds, even adverse backgrounds, and brings us together in a loving fellowship.
Now it is also interesting to me, that as the Lord names these apostles, there aren't really any great marvelous people among them as far as the world is concerned. None of them are highly educated. None of them are prominent or wealthy. In fact, they are just common ordinary people. Four of them were fishermen, and one was a tax collector. We are not really given much of a background on the others, but they were just plain common people. That always interests me, because these men that God is preparing to send out to do His work, are just plain, common people like you. And when God has a work to be done, He doesn't really go to the universities to select those with the highest grades, and IQ's and all, but God chooses and calls just plain ordinary people like you.
It is wrong for any of us to excuse ourselves from serving the Lord, because of the fact that we are just so ordinary, because that is the kind of person God seeks to use for His glory. If God used the highly talented, highly developed kind of an individual, then we would all be saying, oh, but don't you know he's got his doctorate. Don't you know he was so brilliant? Don't you know he-- and we would be putting the emphasis upon the ability of the instrument, rather than upon the One who has used the instrument. We would have a tendency then to glory in man, or man's educational processes.
So the Lord has chosen the simple things to confound the wise, and the foolish things to put to naught the wisdom of this world. And God uses just plain common ordinary people like Raul Ries, Greg Laurie, Mike Macintosh, and Chuck Smith to do His work, just the plain ordinary people to do His work.
I love to hear Raul on the radio. I have to sacrifice listening to myself, because I am on KYMS at that hour. I heard Raul this week as he was describing his condition when he was in the Marine Corp. He had been such a vicious killer, and had killed so many people, that he was brought back and put in the hospital in Vallejo for the mentally deficient. And he said, "The psychiatrist said, 'Man, I was far and above beyond gone.'" That's a typical Raul-ism. He is ordinary, and yet anointed by the Spirit of God and used by God to do His work.
So not many wise, not many great, not many notable of the world, but just those plain ordinary people who He sent out as apostles to represent Him.
These twelve Jesus sent forth (10:5)
That is what made them apostles.
And commanded them saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, or into any city of the Samaritans do not enter. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (10:5-6).
So by telling them not to go into the way of the Gentiles, He was restricting their area of ministry. They were not to go south into Samaria. They were not to go west over to Tyre and Sidon. They were not to go as far north as Damascus, but they were to go only around the region of the Galilee; not even to the cities of the Decapolis, but only to those Jewish communities around the Galilee. So in the first sending out of the disciples, it was a very restricted area that He gave them to work in. They were to be forerunners of His coming; for He was going to follow up and to go into each of these villages. And they were more or less the forerunners of His own coming to these villages. So they were sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Paul the apostle said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: it is the power of God unto salvation to those that believe; to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16).
Jesus came to the Jew first. And as He was sending them forth now, it was very limited, only to the Jews, not to be going to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans. However, He Himself later was to reveal Himself to that Samaritan woman. He was to heal the daughter of the Syrophoenician, and finally He was to tell His disciples, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). But it was important in God's plan that the Gospel come first to the Jew.
And so there was first of all that restricted ministry of the disciples when He was first sending them forth. It was not to the world at this time; it was just among the Jews, not even into the Samaritans, but only to the Jews at this point.
Later, He said, "When the Holy Spirit comes upon you: you will be witnesses unto me not only in Judea, but also in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth" (Acts 1:8). But now restricted to the Galilee region, only to those Jewish communities: the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Notice it doesn't say, "The ten lost tribes of the house of Israel." Ten lost tribes is not a Biblical term. There are not ten lost tribes. God knows exactly where they are and who they are. He has never lost them. And when the time comes, He is going to seal 12,000 from each of the tribes to be preserved during the great tribulation period.
I discount the attempt to make a Jew out of me, because of my English heritage. The business of Denmark being of the tribe of Dan, or Danmark, so they are called the Dan-ish people. The word ”ish” in Hebrew is “man”, so Dan's man or Dan-ish, Brit-ish, Engl-ish, fool-ish. Just because it has an “ish” on the end, doesn't make it Jewish.
Now as Jesus sent them forth, He said,
Go, and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand (10:7).
What is the “kingdom of heaven,” this glorious phrase? Well, we’ll be getting parables about the kingdom in our next study as we get into Matthew thirteen and fourteen, these parables of the kingdom. What is the kingdom of heaven? Jesus said when you pray, say, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven" (6:10). What are we praying for when we pray for the kingdom of heaven? Now Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is among you, rather than in you. But in reality God's kingdom has come to every man who has acknowledged Jesus Christ as his Lord and King. And if you tonight have acknowledged the Lordship of Jesus Christ, if He is the King of your life, you are already a citizen of the kingdom: the kingdom of heaven has come to you. And as a citizen of the kingdom, there are many tremendous benefits for the citizens of that kingdom.
As a citizen of the United States I have many benefits. Even when I travel in a foreign country there are certain protections that I have as a citizen of the United States. Should I get into trouble there are always those embassies to which I can turn who are there to help the citizens of the United States out of whatever difficulty they might find themselves in. And those within the embassies in these foreign countries will seek to help those citizens of the United States, that's just one of the benefits of citizenship. Just because I am a citizen, they'll go to bat for me, and they'll speak up for me, and they will pull strings for me, because I am a citizen of the United States. And the United States has an obligation to guarantee its citizens certain rights, certain privileges. So I enjoy being a citizen of the United States, because of those rights and privileges that I have as a citizen.
But I am also a citizen of a kingdom, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven. And I tell you, the rights and the privileges that I have as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven far exceed the rights and the privileges that I have as a citizen of the United States. Wherever I go, I have protection. I have authority, the authority of the kingdom of heaven behind me.
Jesus is saying, "Now you go out and preach saying, herald it, the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And they were to demonstrate the aspects of the kingdom of heaven by
Healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, and raising the dead, and casting out the devils (10:8).
We read in the prophesy of Isaiah thirty-five, some of the aspects of that kingdom age; where the lame will leap for joy, the dumb will sing praises unto God, the blind will behold the glory of the Lord, and the gospel will be preached unto the meek, to the poor. So Jesus is telling them to demonstrate the aspects of the kingdom by setting men free from the kingdom of darkness.
I love the commission that the Lord gave to Paul the apostle when He called him on the Damascus road. When Paul was talking to king Agrippa and relating to Agrippa that calling of God on the Damascus road, Paul said that the Lord spoke to him to go to the Gentiles, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18). So Paul's commission as he went to the Gentiles was to deliver them from the power of Satan unto God, from the power of darkness to light.
As a citizen of God's kingdom, I've been delivered from the power of darkness, and I am to bring deliverance to those to whom I come, to those who will heed the message and receive Jesus Christ as King. That is the effect: they are delivered from the power of darkness and brought into the light, from the power of Satan and made a part of the kingdom of God. There are people today who are living in the kingdom of darkness.
There are two basic kingdoms in the Universe. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth there was only one kingdom in the Universe, the kingdom of God: the kingdom of light and life. But God in His kingdom created these beings we call, “angels”, and He endowed them with the capacity of choice. And one of the choicest of the angels, the anointed cherub that covered, perfect in beauty, perfect in wisdom, was lifted up by pride and decided to exalt himself and be as God; the first Mormon. And the inspiration behind the Mormons today is to be as God.
What was it Shakespeare has this statement in one of his plays, "Oh Cromwell, flee ambition for by this sin the angels fell." What was the temptation that Satan offered to Eve in the garden? "Eat of it because you will be as God, knowing good from evil" (Genesis 3:5). That bait still works. And there are those who are attempting to be as God still. Tragic.
Now in his rebellion against God, in his pride being lifted up to be as God, he formed a second kingdom in the universe, a kingdom that was an antithesis to the first kingdom, a kingdom that was in rebellion to the first kingdom: The kingdom of death and darkness. So now in the universe there are two opposing kingdoms: the kingdom of God, the kingdom of light and life, ruled by God; but now a sub-kingdom in antagonism to the first, rebelling against the first, the kingdom of death and darkness.
Now when God created man, and placed him here upon the planet earth, He placed man here in the kingdom of God. Adam had fellowship with God. God came down and He communed with Adam there in the garden. There was this beautiful fellowship with man and God in the kingdom of light and life.
But Satan, the ruler of the kingdom of death and darkness, came to Eve and said, Did God say you could eat of all the trees? Yes, all but the one in the middle. He told us if we ate of that tree we would die. Satan said, Oh you really won't die. That's the finest tree in the garden. God isn't really being fair to you, Eve. He is trying to hold back something good. You see that tree holds the key to knowledge. And God doesn't want you to eat that tree because He knows that when you eat of it, you'll be wise as He is, knowing good from evil. He is trying to hold that back. You really ought to try it. How do you know unless you've tried it? (Genesis 3:1-5).
And so Eve being deceived ate of it and her eyes were opened. And she gave to her husband Adam and he did eat. But in that act of disobedience to God, which was a double act, because it was an act of obedience to Satan, they left the kingdom of light and life, and they were drawn into the kingdom of death and darkness. They drew all mankind into the kingdom of death and darkness, because they could not pass on something they did not have. They had lost that place in the kingdom of God, the kingdom of light and life. "And so by one man, sin entered the world, and death by sin; for death passed upon all men, for all sinned" (Romans 5:12).
So each of us born of Adam were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, born sinners by nature, and we were all by nature children of wrath, even as others; born into the kingdom of death and darkness.
But there is another tree. The tree of life is still available. It is through Jesus Christ. And if you choose to come into the kingdom of light and life, you can come by the cross of Jesus Christ, using that same exercise of free choice that Adam used in leaving the kingdom of God. You can use that to come back, come back into the kingdom of God, since Jesus Christ made provision.
So the duty of the apostles was to preach the kingdom. It's possible for a man to now again have fellowship with God. You can come out of the kingdom of darkness. You can come into the kingdom of light. You can have deliverance from the power of Satan, and you can know fellowship with God. And that's the glorious Gospel that we herald today. That's the glorious Gospel we still preach. It is possible for that man who has been bound in the kingdom of darkness and death, that man that has been alienated by God because of his life after the flesh, it is possible for him to know the power of God's Spirit in his life. He can come from that kingdom of darkness into the glorious light and liberty of the sons of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, through the tree, the cross. And so a lot of people blame Adam today for their problems and they feel that it is quite unfair that they have to suffer for Adam's mistake.
I was hiking a group of kids from the High Y camp there in Arizona, coming down the backside of Mt. Lemon from an old mine. And as I was leading them down this trail I heard this yell back in the line, and so I went back to see what this horrible scream was about. This one little guy had brushed to close to an Ajoja cactus. Now the Ajoja is called the jumping cactus, and if you just barely touch it, it will break off and just clamp on to you. He had one that really clamped on to him good. He was really yelling. So I got back there and I took a couple of sticks, and I carefully worked the sticks in between the thorns and then I flipped that Ajoja cactus off of him. And as he was shaking his hand and all, he said, "That darn guy, Adam." Where do you go to Sunday school? He said, "I go to the First Baptist Church." I said, "Well, they're teaching you correct doctrine anyhow." You know that the thorns and the thistles resulted from the curse. "Cursed is the ground... thorns shall it bring forth" (Genesis 3:17-18).
So many times we're looking at the miseries that we're facing and we say, that darn guy, Adam, got us into this mess. He made such a horrible choice. When he had the choice of the tree of life, or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, why couldn't he have chosen the tree of life, why would he eat of the other tree first? That tree of life in the midst of the garden, why didn't he eat of it? How foolish. And we're prone to really come down on Adam for the foolish choice. But in reality, there are still two trees today and you have the choice. You can choose to eat of the tree of life today, for God has given to you that choice by believing and receiving in Jesus Christ you can have eternal life. Or, you can choose to disobey God, to rebel, to eat of the fruit of the world and abide in death. So you really can't blame Adam for your condition. You can only blame yourself, because you, many, are following Adam's folly not choosing to eat of the tree of life that God has made available to all men through Jesus Christ.
Now Jesus said to His disciples,
Freely you have received, freely give (10:8).
I wonder how that fits with these modern evangelists today.
I have got on my desk a letter, I wish I had it here right now before me. It's classic. We have these Jewish friends in Israel that we've been seeking to share the truths of Jesus Christ with, but it's a difficult task sharing with them, because he is a guide and he guides a lot of Christian tours. As a guide he sees a lot of the inner workings and the background, and a lot of the rip-offs. When I go over he will start telling me about these rip-offs that he sees where these tour guides get the people over there, the famous evangelists and all, and then they really rip the people off.
He will tell me of these things, and then somehow he has gotten on the mailing list of some of these evangelists, and he gets these computerized letters. "Dear brother," and all of this junk. Have you been bothered with an ear problem lately, or maybe its the eyes or nose, or a knee, or hepatitis? I mean the guy goes down a long list, and you’re bound to hit something. Somehow I've been impressed to pray for you lately, and I think there might be something wrong. Why don't you write me and share with me. Now please don't send me any money for my birthday, but I've been laboring for the Lord three hundred and forty-one nights a year and I am really tired and I am going to take a vacation and we could use a little extra money. Our organ blew up -- and all of this kind of stuff. Here this guy is getting these computerized letters, and he is smart enough to see through them, and to him the ministry is a sham. He sees the rip-offs.
Jesus said to His disciples, "Freely you have received, freely give." They weren't to demand fees for their services. They weren't to be taken offerings for themselves. They had received freely from God, and they were to give freely.
Now the Lord said,
Don’t provide gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses (10:9)
Don't take any coins in your purses,
Nor script for your journey, Don’t even take two coats, nor an extra pair of shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat (10:9-10).
Now you can go and it's proper that the people support you. You don't have to take a lot of money with you. It's proper that the people support you. The workman is worthy of his hire. However, you're not to go in and make yourself a burden, or lay yourself upon people.
And into whatsoever city or town you shall enter, inquire who is worthy; and stay there until you leave. And when you come into a house, greet it. And if the house worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you (10:11-13).
Now in those days they really thought quite a bit about giving a person a blessing. If they would greet you, they would often greet you with a blessing of the Lord. "The blessings of the Lord be upon you and your seed." "Thank you." But then if they get down the road and think, oh, he wasn't worthy. That was a Gentile or something, and he comes back, and he says, "I take that blessing back." They felt that they had to remove the blessings that they gave if the person was undeserving or unworthy. So Jesus is pretty much saying if thy house is worthy let your peace abide, if it's not, take your peace with you.
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, just shake off the dust off your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the Day of Judgment, than for that city. Behold, I’m sending you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (10:14-16).
Now someone said, well, serpents aren't really noted to be very wise. They're not considered to be a wise kind of a creature. And I heard a professor in biology making fun of the knowledge of Christ by pointing out to the class that serpents really weren't wise, and so for the Lord to say, “be as wise as serpents," was a rather stupid thing, and showed that He had really very little knowledge of biology. One of the students spoke up in class and said, “How long do you think you would survive without any arms or legs, and you had to take care of yourself out in the desert? So you have to give him some credit, at least they survive. That's more then we could do." The servant of the Lord, harmless as doves.
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to their councils, they will scourge you in their synagogues [that is they will beat you]; You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not take forethought how or what you are going to say: for it will be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you (10:17-20).
So you don't have to make up for the whole speeches in advance, just let the Lord anoint you by His Spirit.
And the brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved (10:21-22).
So here we have that basis for the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, which is oftentimes used as a contrast to those who would go to antinomianism, to the extremes of the security of the believer. And there are those who press this side of the coin, "he that endures to the end," and the perseverance of the saints. Truth lies somewhere in the middle.
But when they persecute you in this city, flee to another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come (10:23).
Now Jesus is referring to His journey that He is going to be taken among these cities. And so if they persecute you in one city, just go to the next. You are not actually going through all of these cities before I'll be right behind you. I'll be coming behind you, and I'll be ministering in these cities. He is not really referring to His Second Coming at all, but just to His ministry in these cities of the Galilee.
Now Jesus said,
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master (10:24-25).
That's enough. You bet it is, that's great, if we could only be as our Lord. And He said, "Your not greater than the Lord." It's just enough that you be as the Lord. God help us to be as the Lord.
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub [or the lord of flies], how much more shall they call them of his household? (10:25).
They called me names, they are going to call you names.
Don’t fear them: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak in light: and what you hear [in sort of whispered] in the ear, that preach from the housetops (10:26-27).
Now I've been teaching you, I've been training you, I've been telling you in these little intercessions that we have, now you go out and proclaim these truths openly. That, which you've heard in these little sessions that we've had, go out and proclaim them.
And don’t fear them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (10:28).
So He's not saying to fear Satan. Satan has no capacity of destroying your soul in hell. He is saying, fear God, don't fear man. The worst thing man can do is kill you. So why should you fear man, "To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). You should fear the one who is able to take both body and soul and cast it into hell, that's the one you really should be fearing.
Are not two sparrows sold for half of a cent? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father taking note (10:29).
Again, "your Father," and again, "your Father oversees His creation," and one of the common things of God's creation are the little sparrows. They are so common as to be almost worthless. You could buy four of them for a penny in those days. Two Sparrows sold for a half a farthing, and yet not a little sparrow falls, but what your Father doesn't know it, doesn't make note of it. How detailed is God's knowledge of you?
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (10:30).
Now just look at all of us here tonight. Some make it easy on the Lord, but isn't it interesting the trivia that God knows about us. He knows more about us than we know about ourselves. God knows even trivia about you. That's how concerned your Father is with you. Oh, if we would only be aware of the tremendous concern that our Father has with us, His children.
For Jesus said, You are worth more than many sparrows (10:31).
If God takes note of the sparrows, and He's been saying, don't worry about if they kill you. There is not even a sparrow that falls to the ground, but what your Father knows it, if you fall to the ground in the proclaiming of the gospel, if you be killed in your endeavor to reach others with the glorious love of Christ, how much more will your Father take note. You really have nothing to fear, not man, the worst he can do is kill you.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven (10:32-33).
This is a heavy, heavy verse, because we must all stand before God one day, stand before the creator of the universe.
Now if I have confessed Jesus Christ before men, when my name is called and I have to stand before God, Jesus will step forth and confess me before the Father. "Father, this is Chuck. He is perfect." Isn't that what Jude said, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless" (Jude 24). Why should you laugh when I say, He says, "I am perfect?" Because you know the truth. I know the truth, but I also know the power of my Redeemer. When He confesses me before the Father, and when He presents me before the Father, I will be complete in Him, "Faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24).
But if a person has denied Jesus before men, you’re going to stand all alone before God, the books will be opened, and He who knows all things, He who knows the secrets of the heart. The Bible says, "Every thing are naked and opened before him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13). And there in the embarrassment of your own bare being, and everything exposed, and you might turn fervently to Jesus Christ, and say, "Lord, Lord," and He shakes His head, "I never knew you." Ah, what a heavy thing. "If you deny me before men, I also will deny you before my Father."
Don’t think that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword (10:34).
The gospel of Jesus Christ unifies men, it brings together a tax collector and a Zelote, but the gospel of Jesus Christ also divides men. It divides men into two categories: those who are apart of the kingdom of God, and those who are apart of the kingdom of darkness. But Jesus divides men as well as unifies men and many times Jesus divides those within a household. A child comes into the kingdom of light, but the father continues to rebel in the kingdom of darkness, and so division comes, and a difference comes. This contention oftentimes arises over the differences of being in the kingdom of light, and the kingdom of darkness.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes will often be those of his own household (10:35-36).
Jesus was speaking out of personal experience, for at this particular time His brothers were against Him.
He that loves his father or mother more than he loves me is not worthy of me: and he who loves the son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me (10:37).
Our love for Christ has to be supreme, even above those of our family members, if they are not united with us in the faith. If they are not a part of that kingdom of light, our love for Christ must exceed even our love for those in our own family.
And he that does take not his cross, and follow after me, is not worthy of me (10:38).
When we get to chapter sixteen, we will take up the cross and what it means.
He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake, shall find it (10:39).
That we'll also take up in chapter sixteen.
He that receives you (10:40).
Now you see the authority that Jesus gives to His disciples. I mean you are there representing the Lord, you should be as your Lord.
Those that receive you receives me, and he that receives me receives the Father that sent me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones even a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward (10:40-42).
So you're doing it as unto the Lord, giving as unto the Lord. Giving unto a servant of the Lord, you receive him as you receive the Lord, and as you give to him, it is, as giving unto the Lord and you will receive your reward for it. The giving of a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, "verily I say unto you, you shall in no wise lose your reward."
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of these commandments, he departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities (11:1).
So He sent them out in front of them, and then He departed and was following up now, and coming into the cities. They were sort of the advance men for Him to go out in advance.
Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and he said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (11:2-3).
Now John had been placed in prison by Herod. John had been preaching the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And he said, "There is one who is coming after me who is mightier than I am, I am not worthy to untie his shoes" (3:11). But here is John still in Herod's prison and he is saying to the Lord, hey, let's get this show on the road, for even John did not fully understand the mission of Christ in His first coming, but was anticipating the immediate establishment of the kingdom of God as was promised in the Old Testament Scriptures.
And so the fact that Jesus had not yet proclaimed His power, and overthrown the Roman yoke and John was still in prison, he was getting impatient. He sends his disciples to Jesus asking, "Are you the one, or shall we start looking for someone else?" What he was really saying is, let's get this thing going. I am tired of sitting here in jail. Let's get the kingdom on the road. Let's get this movement going. Are you the one we should look for, or should we start looking for someone else?
Now Jesus answered and said unto them.
Go and show John those things which you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever is not offended in me (11:4-6).
Now Jesus, rather then answering John directly, points to His ministry, the works that He was doing.
You remember on the night that Jesus was betrayed, as He was talking to His disciples, and John records it so faithfully there in the fourteenth chapter, where Jesus had been saying, "Now look, I am going to the Father, and if I go, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said, Lord, we really don’t know where you are going; and how can we know the way? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no ones comes to the Father, but by me." And He said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father also."
Philip said, “Lord, if you will just show us the Father, it will suffice us”. Jesus said, Have I been so long a time with you, and haven’t you seen me, Philip? “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; why do you say then, Show us the Father? Don’t you believe not the Father is in me? And the works that I do, I don’t really do of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father or else believe me for the very works' sake" (John 14:2-11)
In other words, Jesus was pointing to the works as the evidence of His commission, of His person, and of His authority, pointing to the works. He also said, "The works that I do they do testify of me" (John 10:25). They were the evidence. He was fulfilling the promises of the kingdom in the Old Testament, as far as the lame walking, the blind seeing, the dumb speaking, the deaf hearing, he was fulfilling. The dead were being raised, the poor had the gospel preached, and he was fulfilling those aspects of the kingdom. His works were a witness and a testimony. All He did was heal a few of the sick that were around there, open the eyes of the blind, and all, and He said, now you just go back and tell John what you see. And just tell him, Blessed is the one who doesn't get offended because of my not really establishing the kingdom immediately, and over throwing the Roman yoke and establishing a physical, visible, earthly kingdom.
Now they departed, Jesus began to talk to the multitudes concerning John the Baptist, And he said, What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken in the wind? (11:7).
John was preaching down at the Jordan River, a lot of reeds down at the Jordan River. Did you go down to the Jordan River just to watch the reeds being blown by the wind? How come you went out of the cities and down to the Jordan? What did you go there to see? But what did you go out for to see? You obviously didn't go out to see the reeds being blown in the wind.
But what did you go out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment [a man who was wearing fancy clothes]? behold, those that wear soft clothing are in king’s houses [they are not in the king’s prisons] (11:8).
John was in the king's prison at that time. And those who wear that kind of clothes are in the king's houses or palaces.
What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say unto you, more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee (11:9-10).
He is declaring to them that John was indeed the fulfillment of the promise of a forerunner who would come before the Messiah to prepare His way.
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of woman there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (11:11).
In other words, our position as children of God through Jesus Christ puts us in a greater position than those of the Old Testament. Our position of having the Holy Spirit indwelling us, puts us in a greater position. Of all the men born of women, not a greater prophet than John the Baptist, yet the privileges that God has bestowed upon us in the church exceed those privileges.
So often times we think, Oh, how blessed it must have been for Abraham to have had that kind of a relationship with God, and Moses, David and all, but in reality the potential of relationship that is ours through the Spirit is tremendous. That God would dwell in us, by His Spirit, that God would empower us with His Spirit, is absolutely amazing. So even the least of us, filled with the Spirit of God, walking in this glorious fellowship with Jesus Christ, have greater privileges than those of the old dispensation.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence (11:12).
John was thrown into prison and soon he is to be beheaded. The kingdom of heaven is going to suffer violence. The King Himself is going to be crucified. And so the kingdom of heaven is suffering the violence of man.
And the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are able to receive it, this is [Elijah], which was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (11:12-15).
Now in an interesting way, according to Jesus, John the Baptist was Elijah. This does bring up some confusion and when we get to the seventeenth chapter, we will look at this again in a little more detail.
When Zechariah the priest was fulfilling his ministry in the temple, the angel Gabriel came to him and told him that his wife Elizabeth, who had been barren, was in her old age, going to bear a son, and he was to call his name John. And the angel told him, "He shall go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the children unto their fathers " (Luke 1:17). He quotes this prophecy that Jesus quoted concerning the forerunner of the Messiah. And basically the Lord was saying John the Baptist was going to be the forerunner of the Messiah, coming in the spirit and in the power of Elijah.
When in the gospel of John, John the Baptist began his ministry; they came out to him and began to challenge him concerning his authority. And they said unto him, "Who are you?" And they asked him point blank, "Are you Elijah?" and John answered, "No." Then they said, "Who are you?" He said, " The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths " (3:3), quoting another passage of Scripture concerning the forerunner.
Now, the reason for the ambiguity here, is the fact that before Jesus comes again and establishes His visible, physical kingdom upon the earth, Elijah will be coming, of which John the Baptist was a type, for he came in the spirit and in the power. So even as there were two aspects of the coming of Jesus Christ: the first to be crucified, suffering violence; the second to reign as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, so there are two aspects of the forerunner Elijah.
So John the Baptist came to fulfill the first coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, but Elijah himself will actually come before Jesus returns again. Elijah will prophesy before the Lord to the Jewish people, not to the world, but to the Jewish people to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers; that is, to bring the Jewish people back unto the faith of the patriarchs in God the Father.
In Revelation 11:2, I am convinced that one of those two witnesses in Jerusalem will indeed be John the Baptist, for he has the power to shut up heaven, that it not rain in the time of his ministry, even as Elijah prayed and it rained not. And he has power to call down fire on his enemies to consume them, even as Elijah called down fire upon the captain with the fifties who came out from the king to take him in. So Elijah coming before the Lord.
Because I believe that the coming of the Lord is so near, I do believe that somewhere in the earth today, Elijah probably is alive and living, because I believe that we are that near the coming of the Lord. I don't think that anybody knows who he is or where he is. He may know himself, but I am not looking for him. I am looking for the Lord to come for me. I think that it is easy for us to get our eyes off the main attraction and start looking for little side events. "Oh, who is the Antichrist? I wonder if this one could be the Antichrist." But let's look for the main event, Jesus Christ.
So Jesus is saying, Hey, this is tough to take. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." I mean, if you can take it, if you can handle it, if you will receive it, this is he. This is Elijah, if you can receive it. If you can't receive it, then take it however you want, but “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”. So in a sense it was Elijah, coming in the spirit and power, as a forerunner of the Messiah, but not the total fulfillment of that promise in Malachi.
Now what shall I liken this generation to? It is like children sitting in the marketplace, that are calling to their fellows (11:16),
They're seeking entertainment.
And they saying, We have piped to you, and you didn’t dance; we mourned, and you didn’t cry (11:17).
What do you want? What are you looking for?
So John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking, and the Pharisees said, He has a devil. The Son of man came both eating and drinking, and you say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children (11:18-19).
What did the people want? They really didn't know what they wanted. John came as an ascetic. And they said, "He's got a devil." Jesus came mixing with people, and they said, "Oh, He is a friend of the sinners. He is a friend of the publicans, a wine bibber."
Then he began to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they did not repented (11:20):
It is interesting that these cities that He upbraided around the Galilee have all been destroyed, and today are nothing but ruins. In fact, it wasn't until just recently that they even discovered the sight of Bethsaida. For a long time it was thought that maybe the Bible was speaking of some fictitious place, until more recently the archaeologists have uncovered Bethsaida. But Jesus in these cities that He pronounces woes upon, it is interesting that they have totally disappeared. Whereas many of the other cities, such as Tiberias, which was the capital of the Galilee region where Herod lived, Jesus didn't really go to Tiberias, it still remains today Tiberias. The city is still there. But Capernaum is gone, Bethsaida is gone, Chorazin is gone, so that these cities that he upbraided have disappeared off the map.
Woe, unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day (11:21-23).
Capernaum was the headquarters of Jesus, that was His city, that's where He spent the majority of His ministry. His earthly ministry was spent in and around the city of Capernaum. The majority of the miracles that Christ wrought, were wrought in Capernaum. And yet, the people there did not repent. And He said, "If the works had been done in the city of Sodom that were done here in Capernaum, they would have repented." And so the judgments that He pronounces upon Capernaum to be cast down to hell.
But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee (11:24).
Why? Unto who much is given, much is required. The greater understanding and light that a man receives, the greater will be the judgment of that individual. And so when God does judge, it will be according to the understanding or the knowledge that God has given. According to the grace they have been exposed to, will be the degree of judgment by which they will be judged.
At that time Jesus answered and said (11:25),
He has just rebuked these cities for their failure to repent, for their failure to receive, and then He turns from the rebuking of these cities to the Father in a prayer in which He said,
I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto the babes (11:25).
Father, I thank you that the great people of the earth, those great people of Capernaum, and Bethsaida and all, you have hid the truth from them. But here are these babes, simple ordinary people that you've chosen to reveal your truth and your love to. Jesus said,
Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight (11:26).
I thank you, Father, that you've chosen just to use the common, ordinary people to reveal your love and truth to. I am too. How glorious that God has chosen to reveal Himself to just the common.
All things are delivered, [Jesus said] unto me of my Father: and no man really knows the Son, but the Father; and neither knows any man the Father, except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him (11:27).
Now Jesus after this prayer, "Thank you, Father, because you've chosen to reveal yourself not to the wise and the prudent, but just to babes," then He said, "No one really knows the Father, but the Son. And no one really knows the Son, but the Father. And the only ones who really know the Father, are those to whom the Son reveals Him."
There are a lot of people who thought they knew the Father, but they had wrong concepts of God. There are a lot of people today who think they know God, but their concepts of God are all messed up. Jesus said, "No one really knows the Father, unless I reveal the Father to them." I look at the concepts that many people have of God, concepts that they have developed in their own minds. "If I were God this is how I would live; this is what I would do; this is how I would react; this is how I would respond; and so this is my god. I've created my own god, after my own likes and wishes and all." And this has been endemic of man through history, creating his own gods. “But no man really knows the Father, except the Son, and the ones to whom the Son reveals.”
Then Jesus makes the broad invitation,
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (11:28).
You see, Jesus is relating the restlessness of humanity with its godlessness. And He is saying that you will never really know what it is to rest, until you know God. Come unto Me, I'll give you rest. Come unto Me, I'll reveal the Father to you.
Now the invitation, of course, is from Jesus to you. The invitation is to come to Him, and the promise is, "if you come, He will give you rest." So that the first consciousness that a person has when they have come to Jesus Christ, the very first consciousness that they possess is a deep, beautiful peace inside. It just feels so good. I can't tell you why, but I feel good. You see, I am not running from God anymore. I am not fighting God anymore. In fact, I begin now to really understand the Father, and my restlessness was my godlessness. But now as I've come to Jesus Christ, suddenly there is a beautiful peace inside, a rest.
And then Jesus said,
Take my yoke upon you (11:29),
The yoke was the thing that was put on the ox so he could pull a plow. Basically what the Lord is saying is, "Let me have the reigns of your life, and I will guide you to that work that I have for you," for the Lord has a purpose and a plan for each one of you.
Paul the apostle writing to the Philippians said, "I have not yet apprehend that for which I was apprehended by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:12). Jesus Christ has apprehended every one of you. And when He apprehended you, He apprehended you for a specific purpose and plan that He has for your life. The Lord has a work for each of you to do for Him. He's got a plan for each one of your lives. The Lord does not waste anything. He is very conservative, uses everything, and when He apprehended you, He had in mind a purpose and a plan for you to fulfill for His glory, and for the kingdom's sake.
Paul recognizing that, having devoted himself to serving the Lord, after some thirty years said, "I am not yet apprehended that for which I was apprehended. Neither are things yet complete, but I am pressing towards the mark for the price of the high calling of God. I am still pushing on, seeking to apprehend that for which I was apprehended." Take My yoke upon you. I've got a plan for your life. Now you let Me take over the reigns, and let Me begin to guide you into My purposes, and into My plans for you.
And then the third thing Jesus said,
Learn of me (11:29),
Now you need to know the Father, and you can't know the Father unless I reveal the Father to you. Learn of Me, because as you learn of Me, you'll know the Father. He who has seen Me, hath seen the Father. So learn of Me, that you might know the truth of God, that He might reveal to you the truth of the nature of God. And as you learn the truth of God, you'll learn that He is a God of love, a God of compassion, a God of great deep concern for you. A God who cares for you more than you could ever dream, a God who is interested in every minute detail of your life. "Learn of me," Jesus said, for in learning of Him, you will learn of the Father, and you'll have a true revelation of the Father.
And then Jesus adds,
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (11:30).
That's in sharp contrast to those who go around telling me about the heavy burden they've been under lately. "Oh man, I've been under such a heavy burden. I don't know if I am going to be able to handle it, Man. The burden is so heavy on me." Wait a minute! I believe that it is possible for us to take on burdens that are not from God, burdens that we take upon ourselves. It's possible for us to get ourselves into some real messes.
I feel that I've taken on many burdens that God didn't lay on me and I sometimes complain about the burdens. Right now I am sort of complaining at home about the burden of going to Norway. I don't know if God laid it on me or not. I accepted the invitation and now I sort of wish I hadn't. I am just tired, and I would like to stay home. But nonetheless, I have to go. But I can't say, "Oh, the Lord has laid this heavy burden on me. I've got to go to Norway." If the Lord indeed has sent me, than He is going to give me the strength and the energy and I am going to do great. If I've taken the burden on and He hasn't, then pray for me, I am in trouble. For the Lord said, "My yoke is easy, my burden is light."
Hey, wait a minute, what was His yoke? Every man bares a burden. A man's burden is that master passion by which his life is governed. Jesus said, "My burden is light." What was His burden? What was behind the life of Jesus? What was the main thrust behind His life? He revealed it in His first recorded words, when He was just twelve years old, when He said to His mother Mary, "Didn't you know that I must be about my Father's business" (Luke 2:49).
Now when a person says, "I must," you better listen, because you're getting close to the heart of the issue. So many times a person says, well, I really ought to do that. I know I should. Forget it, you're not getting close yet. When a person says, "I must," then listen. "Didn't you know I must be about my Father's business." That was the burden in His life, His Father's business. "I do always those things that please the Father" (John 8:29). "I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me" (John 6:38). And He prayed: "Father, I have finished the work you have given me to do" (John 17:4).
And what does He say about His burden? He said, "My burden is light." It is light to do the will of the Father, to please the Father. It is not a heavy burden. Who is He calling? Those who are heavy laden, those who are carrying a heavy burden. "Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden."
What are the heavy burdens of man? What is the burden of life that you are trying to carry? What is the master passion behind your whole life? You say, well, I am being honest and looking at myself, the master passion of my life is money. I love good things. I love nice things. I want to live comfortably. And so the master passion of my life is just to possess nice things, and to live a comfortable life. Someone else may say, well, the master passion of my life is fame. I just want people to admire me and to look up to me, and I want to be famous. Someone else might say, well, really the real thrust behind my life is pleasure. I just like excitement and pleasure, and the only reason why I work is to get enough money to go out and have a good time. I hate the job, and I hate working, but I have to work in order to get the money. I can't wait for the weekends, man, where we can just really have a great time, and my whole life is geared around the weekends, and the fun that I can have, and I'd have to say, that's the burden of my life.
Look a little deeper, because none of these are the burdens that any of you are carrying. Who do you want the money for? Who are you seeking fame for? For whose pleasure are you looking? And when you get behind these things, you have to say, well, I am seeking money for myself. I want to be wealthy. I am seeking fame for myself. I am seeking pleasure for myself. Now you've come to the truth. The burden that Jesus said is heavy, one that will weigh you down, is living for yourself. When a person is seeking to live for himself, that is a heavy burden that one day will become intolerable, and you will just come to the cynicism and say, life isn't worth going on. You will become totally cynical, because you'll never be able to satisfy yourself. The yoke is too hard. The burden is too heavy.
But Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, my yoke is easy, my burden is light”. Living for God has to be the most satisfying life in the world. Nothing is more satisfying than to commit your life totally to God and to live for His glory. As Jesus said back in chapter ten, "he who finds his life, shall lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.” My yoke is easy, My burden is light, because my yoke is living to satisfy and to please God. And you find that is much easier to please God, then it is to please yourself. You'll never be able to please yourself, as you just live for yourself, because you're not answering to the basic purpose of your creation. When God designed you and created you, God purposed that you should be for His pleasure and for His glory.
As the elders are ascribing praise unto God and the worthiness of God to receive the praise of the Cherubim, "Thou art worthy oh Lord, to receive glory and honor, for thou hast created all things, and for your good pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11). God did not create you to live for your own pleasure. And if you live for your own pleasure, your life is going to be empty, frustrating, and dissatisfying. But if you will live for God's pleasure, if you take up the light burden, then your life will be fulfilling, rich, full. In fact even more, as David said, "my cup runneth over" (Psalms 23:5). And your life will be like an overflowing cup. May the Lord put His hand upon your life, fill you with His Spirit, and guide you with His councils. May you be strengthened in your walk with Him. May you begin to experience greater victories over those areas of the flesh that have dominated, and may you begin to experience more and more the power of God's Spirit within your life, giving victory. May the Lord be with you and may the Lord keep you in His love during the time that we're absent from each other. And may you just grow in your knowledge of Him, and in your fellowship in Jesus Name.