Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 10:21-23

"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. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 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." -Matthew 10:21-23

Who is this command to?

Jesus is instructing his disciples right before he sent them out to do ministry in the surrounding areas.

What does this command require?

When the disciples were persecuted, they were commanded to flee to another city.

What truths do we learn through this command?

It almost seems that Jesus is teaching the disciples to avoid persecution. But He is not. Jesus starts verse 23 with a sure statement--'When they persecute you'. So this command is not about avoiding persecution. Persecution will come. When it does, run to the next city. We learn here that persecution is an excellent motivator for spreading the gospel. When Christ had risen, and Christianity was becoming more known, persecution started. This persecution caused believers to scatter to other towns, regions, even other countries. Because of this dispersion of the many disciples, and because these new disciples were faithful in making disciples wherever they went, Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the Roman world and even into Asia. Persecution is a great tool for spreading the gospel and growing the church.

I think that there is a question pressing on your mind at this point. Is this command relevant to us? When we are persecuted for preaching the gospel of Christ, are we to flee to the next city? This is a tough question. I have come to this conclusion: Your time is better spent finding a place to preach the gospel where the people will receive it, than to have the gospel message trampled by your persecutors and for you to be beaten and bruised for preaching. I say that cautiously, for many will be persecuted for preaching and will continue to preach faithfully in the face of extreme persecution. I come back to Matthew 7:6 and 10:14. Jesus gives permission for the disciples to 'shake the dust from their feet' when they left a city or a household that would not hear the gospel message. Just think about it and try to find a balance. Yes, we are called to endure through our trials, even persecution. But at the same time, we must have discernment as to whether or not the message is being received. There might be some households or cities in which it is impossible to make disciples because of their sinfulness and rejection of the gospel.

What are the consequences for disobedience?

I'm having a hard time putting this into words, but let me take a stab at it: If the disciples disobeyed this, they would face death for their preaching. The gospel message would not spread like Jesus intended.

No comments:

Post a Comment