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Matthew 10 24-31 Do Not be Anxious about the Threats of Man

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Do Not Be Anxious about the Threats of Man: Matthew 10:24-31

Everton Community Church: Sunday December 2nd 2007.

If you haven’t noticed, we are in the swing of the “Holiday” season. That’s right: not Advent or Christmas but the Holiday Season. Retailers and cultural planners are so desperate for increased sales and attendance that the day after Halloween, began with the “Holiday” advertising. The word "Christmas" is avoided nearly all public discourse-more or less.

Quote: As one commentator put it: My sense is, though, if our social handlers and media moguls have anything to do with it, we are fast approaching the "last Noel." The "Give-A-Christmas" charity drive has become the "Holiday Fund." After Thanksgiving, we do our "holiday shopping," to fill our children's "holiday stockings," when we get back from the office "holiday party." Peter Jones @

The grinches who are stealing December 25 are filling the void with virtually anything. One town hosts a Polar Express Festival, replacing Christmas trees with polar bears! In schools, trees are kept but ideologically renamed Peace Trees, Cultural Trees, or Diversity Trees. With ornaments from the world's cultural, ethnic, and religious traditions, these trees celebrate in coded language the agenda of neo-pagan unity. A teacher explains: "By acknowledging the value of all cultures, we become cohesive and accepting of each other's diversity…we become successful at working toward the motto: 'Let there be peace on Earth.'" Obviously, featuring a Christmas tree and explaining the biblical meaning of peace is clearly not part of the "accepting of each other's diversity."

As we watch the cultural demise of the Canadian Christmas, it is easy to become nostalgic, even discouraged. But that is not my point. This is the first Sunday in Advent. The message this morning is not about saving society by publicaly pointing out that this is the Advent season leading up to Christmas. I would encourage this but this is not my point. The real issue is what has led us up to this point and what God says we are to do about it.

In the guise ofcultural diversity” people have become paralyzed by anxiety in regards to what others think about them. Lest someone somewhere become offended, Christians have forsaken their God given mandate to make disciples and not fear what others think, say or do in regards to this.

The call of the Great Commission is the call to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). Disciple-making is the central work of the people of Christ’s church, the work of bringing men and women to a saving relationship to Jesus Christ and of helping them grow in His knowledge and likeness.

Quote: The word “disciple” occurs 269 times in the New Testament. “Christian is found three times, and was first introduced to refer precisely to the disciples.

(Dallas Willard, “Discipleship: For Super Christians Only?” Christianity Today, 10 October 1980, 24.)

Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10:5-15 led to His warning of the dangers of discipleship (vv. 16-23), which led to His teaching about the characteristics and benefits of discipleship (vv. 24-42). In Matthew 10:24-31 Jesus identifies a comprehensive definition of discipleship 1) A Disciple Emulates His Master and 2) Does not Fear the World

1)      A Disciple Emulates His Master (Matthew 10:24-25)

Matthew 10:24-25   [24]"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. [25]It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (ESV)

Jesus first presents the negative aspect of the truth (v. 24), then the positive (v. 25a), and then the consequence (v. 25b)

First, it is axiomatic that a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant/slave above his master. By definition, a disciple (learner) is beneath his teacher in knowledge and wisdom and a servant/slave is beneath his master in social and economic standing. Also by definition, a disciple who is genuinely a disciple learns from his teacher, and a servant/slave who genuinely is a slave obeys his master.

Man’s volition is represented by the figure of disciple and teacher, and God’s sovereignty is represented by that of slave and master. The two illustrations unite to emphasize that the first and most obvious principle of discipleship is submission.

From the beginning to the end of his gospel, Matthew’s purpose is to reveal Jesus as the divine King of kings, the Messiah and Son of God who came to redeem and to eventually rule the world. He is the only King, the only Messiah, the only Son of God, the only Savior and Lord. In all of those roles He demands and is deserving of total submission.

Second, as Jesus goes on to point out, it is also axiomatic that the purpose of a true disciple is to learn from his teacher in order to become like his teacher and that the purpose of a faithful slave is to serve and become as his master.

When teaching the same truth on another occasion, Jesus said:  

Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (ESV).

A disciple’s single, overriding purpose is to emulate his teacher. It is enough for him to become as his teacher, not only in the teacher’s wisdom and character but also act like Christ would:

1 John 2:6   [6]whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (ESV)

The function of discipleship is clearly stated in the Great Commission:

Matthew 28:20a   [20]teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

In Verse 25 The logical result of being like Christ is being treated like Christ. If they called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. Jesus continues to develop the same truth but changes the figure from those of disciple/teacher and slave/master to that of master/head of the house/members of his household. Family members and servants should not expect to be treated better than the head of the family is treated.

Paul knew that to truly know Christ and the power of His resurrection involves:

Philippians 3:10   [10]that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (ESV)

Verse 25 noted the treatment that Jesus received: If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul.  Beelzebul (sometimes found as “Beelzebub” or “Baalzebub”) was originally the name of a pagan Canaanite deity. The name Baalzebub probably meant “lord of the flies,” and it was later changed to Baalzebul, “lord of the dwelling.” Because he was an especially despicable deity, his name had long been used by Jews as an epithet for Satan.

Please turn to John 15

Jesus’ point was that, if people called Him Satan, they would surely call His disciples the same thing. The Pharisees had already done precisely that when they accused Jesus of castingout the demons by the ruler of the demons” (Matt. 9:34), who was often referred to as Beelzebul (Mark 3:22; cf. Matt. 12:24).

Jesus repeated this general warning to the disciples many times. In one of His last discourses He told them:

John 15:18-19   [18]"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. [19]If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (ESV)(cf. v. 20; 13:16).

And now to Chapter 16:2

The day would come when the one who persecuted the disciples would:

John 16:2-3   [2]They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. [3]And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. (ESV)

As Jesus had already explained, His disciples are not hated because of who they are in themselves but “on account of My name” (Matt. 10:22).

·        We should not be anxious about the threats of Man for we should expect persecution. Fear is often stimulated by the unknown. But followers of Jesus should expect opposition and persecution.

Thus the call to discipleship is the call to be like Christ, including being treated like Christ. To people who are truly seeking God, the lives of His faithful saints are beautiful and attractive.

It is often the Christlike qualities of love, joy, peace, and kindness in Christians that attract unbelievers to the Lord. The more we emulate Christ, the more attractive we will become to those God is calling to Himself. But at the same time we will become more unattractive to those who reject God. Because they want nothing of Him, they will want nothing of us.

Illustration: Dan Crawford, the successor to David Livingstone, carried a copy of the New Testament in the pocket of his jacket. At the time of his death someone found the following verses penned on the flyleaf of that well-worn Book: I cannot do it alone! The waves dash fast and high; the fog comes chill around, and the light goes out in the sky. But I know that we two shall win in the end—Jesus and I. Coward and wayward and weak, I change with the changing sky; today so strong and brave, tomorrow too weak to fly. But He never gives up, so we two shall win—Jesus and I!

(Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.)

1) A Disciple Emulates His Master (Matthew 10:24-25) and

2) A Disciple Does Not Fear the World (Matthew 10:26-31)

The true disciple of Jesus Christ not only emulates his Master but is also not afraid of the world. Three times in these six verses Jesus says, have no fear. In light of what He had just promised, His exhortation not to be afraid was in order. He had told the disciples He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves, that they would be tried and scourged in Jewish courts, “brought before governors and kings” for His sake, delivered up in various ways, betrayed by their families, hated and persecuted by the world in general, and called satanic (vv. 16-25).

Fear of what people may think, say, or do has strangled many testimonies and hindered much service in the Lord’s name. Human nature wants to avoid problems and conflicts, especially if they might bring ridicule and hardship. People do not naturally want to be thought little of or mistreated, and even less to suffer or die. Christians who have fallen prey to today’s great emphasis on self-preservation find it especially difficult to confront sinful society with the demands and standards of the gospel. We are warned in Proverbs that:

Proverbs 29:25  [25]The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe. ESV

Every believer, like Peter warming himself in the courtyard while Jesus was on trial, at times finds it difficult to speak out for the lord for fear of being considered foolish, backward, extremist, unsophisticated, obtrusive, or strange.

·        Most likely it is the main reason we don’t evangelize. We become paralyzed by fear of what might happen instead of focusing on faithfulness and what God promises.

Because criticism, abuse, and danger would become frequent companions of the apostles, Jesus repeatedly exhorted them not to be afraid (see, e.g., Matt. 14:27; 28:10; Luke 12:32; John 14:27). At this time Jesus gave three reasons for His followers not to be afraid: A) Their vindication by God, B) Their veneration of God, and C) Their valuation by God.

We are not to be anxious and afraid for our:

A)     Vindication by God (Matthew 10:26-27)

Matthew 10:26-27   [26]"So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. [27]What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. ESV

First, believers should never be afraid of the world because they know God will one day vindicate them. So/Therefore looks back to what Jesus had said in verse 25. Although God’s children will be mistreated and accused of being wicked and even demonic, Jesus says, have no fear of them, that is, those who cause you trouble. For looks forward, introducing the promise that in the end God will make everything right. All truth and goodness and all falsehood and wickedness will be seen for what they really are.

There is nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. The world’s wickedness will be shown for what it is, and believers’ righteousness will be shown for what it is. God has bound Himself to vindicate His children.

·        We should not be anxious about the Threats of Man, for all this action occurs under the eyes and care of God.

We should not be concerned about what the world says now but about what God will say at the final day:

1 Corinthians 4:5   [5]Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (ESV)

·        Our enemies cannot prevent our public vindication nor their own public exposure.

·        Be honest: What do you long for more? Present Respect from non-believers or future commendation from God. It is our short sightedness that longs for present respect from non-believers by not proclaiming the Gospel that causes us to not long for the future commendation from God by being faithful and proclaiming that Gospel which will cause us to look foolish by some.

·        What greater motive could we have for faithfully serving the Lord and fearlessly facing the world?

There are to be no secrets in Christianity. What the Lord has, in effect, revealed to us in the darkness we are to say in the light; and what we hear whispered in [our] ear we are to proclaim on the housetops.

As His followers study, meditate, and pray over God’s Word in solitude and in the company of fellow believers, God opens up His truth to their hearts and minds. But what is learned in those places of figurative darkness, hidden from the world, the child of God is then to speak in the light of open proclamation. What we figuratively hear whispered in [our] ear we are then to proclaim upon the housetops.

During New Testament times Jewish rabbis would often train their students to speak by standing beside them and whispered in their ears. What the student heard whispered he would then speak aloud. What the Lord has, in effect, whispered in our ears through His Word we are to speak aloud to the world, holding nothing back.

In Jesus’ day a person shouting from housetops could be heard for a great distance. Both official and personal announcements were often publicized by that means. The objective of shouting from the housetop was to be heard by as many people as possible. The Talmud tells of rabbis blowing trumpets from housetops to announce the beginning of religious holidays. A modern remnant of that practice is the announcement of Muslim prayer times from high in a minaret.


Illustration: Fear, of man

In A.D. 398 John Chrysostom was appointed patriarch of Constantinople, where his zeal for reform antagonized the Empress Eudoxia, who had him exiled. Allowed to return after a short time, Chrysostom again infuriated Eudoxia, who sent him away again. How did Chrysostom respond to such persecution? With these words:

What can I fear? Will it be death? But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth and all its fullness are the Lord’s. Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for; and from death I do not shrink.”

Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 33

We are not to be anxious and afraid for our:

A) Vindication by God (Matthew 10:26-27)

B) Veneration of God (Matthew 10:28)

Matthew 10:28 [28]And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. ESV

The second do not fear has to do with those who kill the body. The harm they do is only temporary. We should instead fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Fear is used here in two senses. The first has to do with fright and terror, while the second has to do with awe and veneration.

There may be a price to pay for speaking God’s truth in the light and proclaiming it from the housetops. There are many today who kill the body of those who proclaim Christ. Such people, however, and even Satan himself, cannot to kill the soul.

Physical death is the full extent of the harm they can bring us; they cannot touch the soul, the eternal person. Even the bodies they destroy will one day be resurrected and become imperishable (1 Cor. 15:42).

It should be made clear that destroy does not here mean annihilation. The lost will not cease to exist, but in their resurrected bodies:

Matthew 25:46   [46]And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (ESV).

·        That which is eternal cannot be that which is annihilated. That which is annihilated ceases to exist.

The word behind destroy (appolumi) does not convey the notion of extinction but of great loss or ruin.

2 Thessalonians 1:9   [9]They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (ESV)

·        Ultimately people will be given what they always wanted: nothing to do with God. Unfortunately, the circumstances of this wish will be tragic.

Jesus’ point here is that the only fear a believer should have is of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell; and only God can do that. In the last days Satan himself will be cast into hell, which is the Lord’s domain, not Satan’s.

The Word Hell” here (geenna, Gk.) is the N.T. word used for the place of eschatological punishment (5:29, 30; 10:28; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5). The word is transliterated Gehenna from the Hebrew ge-hinnom, Valley of Hinnom,” a deep depression south of Jerusalem where Kings Ahaz (2 Chr. 28:3) and Manasseh (2 Chr. 33:6) offered child sacrifices to the pagan god Molech. Declared unclean by Josiah (2 Kin. 23:10), it became the place to burn refuse and to dispose of corpses (Is. 66:24; Jer. 31:40). O.T. prophets proclaimed oracles of doom on it, and ge-hinnom became a symbol of final judgment (Is. 31:9; Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:6). It is a place of eternal and unquenchable fire (3:12; Mark 9:43), a lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:10, 14, 15), an eternal fire (18:8, 9; 25:41), a furnace of fire (13:42), an outer darkness (8:12; 22:13; 25:30), and an eternal punishment (25:46). God has power to cast both body and soul into hell (cf. also Luke 12:5). (Believer's Study Bible. 1997, c1995. C1991 Criswell Center for Biblical Studies. (electronic ed.) (Mt 10:28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

But this fear we are to have of God is not that of terror or fright, but of reverential awe and honor.

·        We should not be anxious about the Threats of Man but more concerned about the wrath of God.

Proverbs 9:10  [10]The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Illustration: When Hugh Latimer was preaching one day in the presence of King Henry VIII, he reports that he said to himself, “Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the king is here; be careful what you say.” Then he said to himself, “Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the King of kings is here; be careful what you do not say.” For such unflinching faithfulness Latimer was eventually burned at the stake. But He feared failing God more than he feared offending men.

The faithful disciple values his soul immeasurably more than he values his body, and he will gladly sacrifice that which is only physical and corruptible for the sake of that which is spiritual and incorruptible.

Quote: Jim Elliot, wrote, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

·        We should not be anxious about the threats of Man because they cannot kill your soul, only your body.

Hymn: Martin Luther said it so well in his Hymn: A Mighty Fortress is our God:

Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.

We are not to be anxious and afraid for our:

A) Vindication by God (Matthew 10:26-27) B) Veneration of God (Matthew 10:28) and finally:

C) Valuation by God (Matthew 10:29-31)

Matthew 10: 290-31 [29]Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. [30]But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. [31]Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (ESV)

Jesus assures the twelve, and every person who would ever trust in Him, that they are dear to their heavenly Father. With divine intimacy and intensity the Lord loves and cherishes those who belong to Him, and He will not allow any permanent harm come to them.

An assarion (penny/cent) was the smallest coin in circulation in Jesus’ day and was worth one-sixteenth of a denarius, the average daily wage for a laborer. One such penny/cent would buy two sparrows, which were as common and relatively valueless in New Testament times as they are today. Roasted sparrows were often served as cheap finger food, as a type of appetizer or hors d’oeuvre.

Yet not one sparrow will fall to the ground apart from your Father. From an argument of the lesser to the greater, Jesus says. This most insignificant of little birds cannot even fall without God’s knowledge. In some Greek usages, the word for fall is translated as “hop”-in which case a little sparrow cannot even hop on the ground without God’s knowledge!

God’s knowledge of us is so detailed and His interest in us is so keen that the very hairs of [our] head are all numbered. In a similar argument from the lesser to the greater, If He takes notice of such things as that, how much more is He concerned about spiritual matters of far greater consequence?

Jesus then gives a third exhortation to not fear (cf. vv. 26, 28) and another reason why we should not fear: we are of more value than many sparrows. The obvious understatement illustrates how very dear God’s children are to Him. In a similar promise Jesus said as we saw last week:

Matthew 6:26   [26]Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (ESV))

How can we be anxious and fearful, knowing of such care and protection by our heavenly Father?

Quote: As one author said: “The appeal to God’s sovereignty is not to foster hope that we will be spared all difficulty, but to foster confidence that when those difficulties come we are not abandoned. Things have not fallen out of hand. We can still rely on the God who has permitted us to face these things to supply us with the grace and help we need to be faithful under such circumstances”.

·        We should not be anxious about the Threats of Man because they can undo neither the father’s will nor his loving care.

(D.A. Carson: Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. 1999 Global Christian Publishers.  p. 273)

Source Format: MacArthur, J. F. (1985). The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Mt 10:24). Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books


cf. confer (Lat.), compare

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