Courageously Confess Your Christ! (Matthew 10:24-33 / Pentecost 5—July 5, 2020)
Last Sunday we looked at Matthew’s account of Jesus sending out the Twelve into public ministry. He said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (9:37-38).
The answer to that prayer were the Twelve disciples themselves. They went out, and they healed the sick, raised the dead, drove out demons, and preached the Good News of the kingdom of heaven.
So, what we have here in chapter 10 of Matthew’s Gospel is Jesus’ missionary discourse. If you have a red-letter edition of the Bible you will notice that Jesus is speaking throughout the entire chapter. And this is an important chapter for us to understand, for Jesus tells us plainly what his disciples can expect in a sinful world. Basically, he says, “You need to know what it means to be my disciple in a world where the majority of people quite frankly aren’t my disciples. As you go into the world and tell people about me you will discover that not everyone will like you because they don’t like me.”
Verses 24 and 25 state: “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant to be like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!” In other words, if they called Jesus a “devil” (that’s what Beelzebub means), don’t be surprised if they call you, his followers, all sorts of names too.
Now all of you can relate to this. You know that there is a level of disapproval that comes from voicing your beliefs in the public square. “Believe what you want,” society says, “but don’t you dare let other people know what you believe for that would be offensive to them.” It’s not that they can’t let others know what they believe, it’s that you can’t go around telling others what you believe, because you believe in Jesus and religion is supposed to be private. Don’t fall for that. Religion is indeed personal, but it is never supposed to be private. The Greek word for preaching the Gospel is to “herald” it forth! To proclaim it! But now there are some who say you can’t do that, and if you do have the gumption to do it, the cancel culture will excoriate you.
Jesus says, “Don’t be surprised if these things happen. These things are going to happen. What you need to remember, however, is that they happen because of your connection to me!”
“So do not be afraid of them.” Verse 26. “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight: what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roof” (v. 27). Jesus isn’t saying that we ought to literally climb on our roofs and start preaching; what he is saying is that we aren’t to be afraid, or worse yet ashamed, of what we believe, and therefore cease to let anyone else know what we believe.
People that are ashamed of things hide them. That’s why so much sin happens at night and behind closed doors. We don’t want others to know. Could it be, even if unwittingly, that we often treat God’s Word in this way?
It’s one thing to not publicly confess your faith in a church because you’re not yet convinced of the teachings of that church. So, although one goes to church on Sunday, they don’t want to become a member yet because they’re still confused. That’s one thing. But it’s quite another thing to sit in limbo because you’re afraid of what others might say and think if you associate yourself formally with other Christians. You know, the attitude that says, “Well, I consider myself a Christian. I just don’t want others to know that I’m a Christian, at least not a serious one. After all, my family will be upset. Or my neighbors might gossip.”
Jesus says, “Whoever, acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (vv. 32, 33).
So, you have men and women who because of human criticism hide Jesus as if he were an embarrassing sibling. “Oh no, you don’t want to meet…. well, yes, he is my brother, but you don’t want to meet him. He’s not that important.”
What then? Jesus says, “Those who disown me in this life, I will disown them before my Father in the next.” I mean, if you reject your Savior, what confidence are you going to have to stand on the Last Day? That’s why he says in verse 28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
You see there is seriousness to our Christian life as Jesus’ disciples. The captain doesn’t send his soldiers out to battle only for them to go off and hide. It is to carry out the task entrusted to them. Jesus says, “This is what I want my disciples to do: I want you to acknowledge me before others so that they in turn will come to acknowledge me as well.” This is the mission of the church! And it requires a certain level of courage that is ready to speak up as the opportunity presents itself. Where is that courage going to come from? Because I’ll admit: it’s not easy to go against the crowd. Nobody likes to be different. And yet I’ll tell you one thing: it’s a whole lot easier to speak up for Jesus when you’re secure in who you are. And that, you see, has to do with one’s family.
Go back to verse 25. There Jesus makes the comment that all those who are his disciples are also considered to be members of his household. In fact, what he’s really saying is that rather than be unsettled over the fact that some will criticize you for your faith, cheer up, because that shows you’re a legitimate member of God’s family! Isn’t that how it works? What happens to one member of the family happens to the entire family!
And, of course, there is a tremendous amount of comfort in recognizing that you are a part of God’s family. For in a family there is sense of safety. There is a sense belonging. You are connected to each other by the strongest of ties: blood. And so, there is an intimate knowledge of each other. There are things that you know about your children that nobody else knows, and that nobody else needs to know. And Jesus says, “This is how my Father knows you. He knows you so well that he knows even how many hairs are on your head!” Fathers don’t know other boys and girls who aren’t their children to that degree.
I don’t know your children that well, but I do know where my daughters have special birthmarks. I know that Anna has a light scar on the top of her left foot. I know things about my girls that you’ll never know, and all of us would say: “That’s precisely how it should be!” You see, there is a level of intimacy that can only be found within the family unit. And what Jesus is saying to us is that we who believe have been brought into that type of relationship with Almighty God! You are forgiven! You are part of his inner circle! Say it to yourself: I am God’s son! I am God’s daughter. So close; so safe; so secure.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” You say, “What in the world do sparrows have to do with any of this? Jesus answers, “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” And then he adds: “You are worth more than many sparrows.” Why? Because you’re a human being and not an animal. Because you were created in God’s own image It is because he loves you with the love of a father for his child, and if you know anything about the way a Father protects his daughter, you know that nothing escapes his watchful loving eye.
Now let me finish.
Can you imagine getting up there and being taken into the throne room of the Father, the King sitting on the throne, and as you walk in, the King’s son Jesus introduces you to the Father by saying, this is ______; this is my brother. This is __________ ; this is my sister! Jesus says, “Whoever, acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” And so, you’re up there, and the angels usher you into the presence of the Father, and there he is with all of his power and all of his might, and with a smile on his face and a glimmer in his eye.
The Father says, “Oh! There you are! Nice to speak to you finally in person. For I knew you even before you were born. I saw you come out of your mother’s womb. I was with you through all the long years. I never once took my eye off of you. And I’m proud of you! You made it! Well done, son. Well done, daughter. This is your family. Welcome home!”
Love ones, do we really need to be afraid what people say or do to us on this earth? Not when we understand who we are. We are Christ’s disciples. We are God’s own children. We are Christians. And as Christians, may we courageously confess our Christ! Amen.