Have you ever noticed how many children’s medicines are marketed to have a pleasant taste? Great marketing and a little bit of sugar really does help the medicine go down - and it makes kids want to take their vitamins! Well, Christ isn’t really trying to “sugarcoat” his message to His disciples as we continue through Matthew 10. He’s already warned them about the persecution and opposition they’ll face simply because He is their master (Matthew 10:24-25). As He unpacks this further, we read about the inevitability of persecution and even bodily harm (Matthew 10:28). In fact, Jesus reminds the apostles that His primary purpose in coming wasn’t to bring temporary earthly peace. He came to upset the status quo and to reconcile humans to God. But this news won’t be well-accepted by those who see no need for a Savior, so Christ’s message will even bring division among families (Matthew 10:35-37).
If you’re like me, you may find these words hard to swallow! Like a yucky-tasting cough syrup, the news of opposition and persecution makes me cringe. Yet even in the midst of this hard news, we see hope. Our hope doesn’t rest in how others will react to the good news, or in the false assumption that we won’t face suffering. Rather, we have hope because we know that we are children of God who are precious in His sight.
I love the imagery of Matthew 10:28-31. Often the poor would purchase sparrows to feed their households. Two sparrows might cost a penny - less than an hour’s work wage. And yet God has intimate knowledge of the sparrow. He knows their flights and landings, their births and their deaths. If God has such intimate knowledge of the sparrows, how much more must He know and love His children? God sees our highs and our lows. He sees our moments of triumph and of defeat. He knows our pain and the persecution we will inevitably face. He knows the day when we will breathe our last breath and our physical bodies will die. And we take great hope in the this reminder that God sees and knows our pain, and that nothing is out of His concern or His control (R.T. France, Matthew).
So believer, take heart today that God knows you and values you intimately. Will you face suffering? Will you walk through pain? Yes, unfortunately - because we live in a broken world. But we face these things knowing that all things are in His hands, and that more importantly - we are also in His hands. This knowledge gives us the bravery and courage to loudly proclaim the good news of the gospel on every housetop and every hill, on the mountains and in the valleys, in the streets and the suburbs, in the pastures and the tiny towns, in every place until Christ comes again (Matthew 10:27).
Matthew 10:26-42 (ESV):
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. 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. 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. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”