In Acts 17:6-7, Paul and Silas are in Thessalonica and have stirred up opposition. The Jews have dragged some Christians before the secular authorities, complaining that “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
The context of Matthew 10 follows on the heels of Matthew 9:36-38. Not only did Jesus pray to send out workers into the harvest but He also fulfilled that need – Matthew 10 is Jesus sending out His apostles on what we call the “limited commission.”
How do we handle our relationships with non-Christians…?
DO GOOD (10:1-4):
To these twelve, Jesus gave power to perform miracles, establishing the veracity of their message (Mark 16:17-20). Today, we, too, help our cause by doing good (Gal. 6:10). These apostles were – from the occupations we recognize – middle-income Palestinians. They were not part of the religious elite. It is noteworthy one worked for the government (Matthew) and one worked against the government (Simon the Zealot, Canaanite).
TEACH JESUS’ MESSAGE (10:5-15):
The “sent out” in verse 5 carries the idea of delegated authority. The authority was not in themselves. It was in Jesus; in their message. It is with us today as we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20). The authority is in the message (Titus 2:15).
The message (for them – vs 7) was that the kingdom was near at hand. Our message is that Jesus is coming again to separate the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-46), to put an end to sin and to death (Rev. 20:12-15).
YET, SOME WILL (VIOLENTLY) REJECT THE MESSAGE (10:16-23):
We are to be wise in our presentation of the Gospel (10:16). Compare Colossians 4:5. We do not have to unnecessarily provoke non-Christians! See 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and how we should teach non-Christians. “Innocent” means “unmixed” with the world’s values (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-18).
But, the message they should preach would come from God (10:18-20). To us, the Holy Spirit has revealed His message, through those same messengers (Eph. 3:3-5).
Jesus does not call us to pointless martyrdom (10:23).
JESUS ENCOURAGES THE PERSECUTED (10:24-33):
Just because we are living as “good” Christians, we should not expect people to love us all the time (10:24-25). It may be because we are “good” Christians that people hate us!
Yet, we are still to preach boldly (10:26-27). The early Christians did not pray that God would take away the persecution; they prayed for courage (Acts 4:23-30). So should we (Eph. 6:18-20).
IN THE MIDDLE OF PERSECUTION – JESUS MATTERS THE MOST (10:34-39):
It may be our own family who persecutes us (10:34-37). The peace Jesus came to bring (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; Luke 2:14) is fundamentally peace between God and man. Jesus separates us from the values / worldview of society.
BLESSINGS AWAIT THOSE WHO RECEIVE CHRIST’S MESSENGERS (10:40-42):
“Little children” does not refer to physical children. It refers to Christ’s disciples metaphorically, picturing them as dependent and helpless.
In living upright in an upside down world, we must choose Christ first, even in the face of persecution from our family and friends. “I am resolved to enter the kingdom, leaving the paths of sin. Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me. Still will I enter in.”