Summary: The picture has not been very encouraging: sheep among wolves, hated and despised, betrayed by family and loved ones, sold-out for convenience and self-preservation, falsely accused and punished, even tortured and killed. All this they had to look forward
From being on the receiving end of personal betrayal and persecution to the point of beatings and death, to being cast in a light that will cause them to be labeled with the most odious of labels, the disciples have been hearing from their Teacher just what the price tag is for all who would really be His disciples.
The picture has not been very encouraging: sheep among wolves, hated and despised, betrayed by family and loved ones, sold-out for convenience and self-preservation, falsely accused and punished, even tortured and killed. All this they had to look forward to, and they were to greet it all with joy and a sense of blessedness. They were to count it a privilege to have been found worthy to share in His sufferings. But wait – there’s more!
Jesus goes on with His description of the real cost of discipleship by giving His friends and followers the encouragement to not be taken by surprise when these things happen, for they will have seen it all happen to Him first.
When Jesus we look at what Jesus says in Matthew 10:24-28, we find that He is basically telling them and us, “I was there ahead of you and have prepared the way. Keep your focus on becoming like Me and being loud about the message I have given you – I’ll take care of the rest. Do not fear those who will do evil to you for the God to whom you belong is far mightier and far more to be feared than the worst who will come against you.”
These few verses contain a great deal of truth for us about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, what the real cost of discipleship is, and where we are to focus our energies – and it is not on combating the vile treatment we may well receive.
In this section, Jesus starts off by speaking a truth to them about God’s order. There is an order to things that God has established, and it pre-dates Creation itself. Long before God created the Universe, there was an order in the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Look through the texts that discuss the power and authority of God and you will find that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and by the Son, and that He speaks only what He has heard from the Son. You will find that the Son has subjected Himself to the authority of the Father, especially when He says, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work (John 4:34) .” Or what is recorded in John 5:30, "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” You can also look at John 6:38-39 and see the same message.
The point is that Jesus begins this portion of His instructions by reminding His disciples that just as there is God-ordained order throughout the entire Universe, there is also God-ordained order in human relationships. And, when it comes to the relationship that human beings have with the Almighty, there is most assuredly a God-ordained order.
This is a teaching that doesn’t get much “play” these days and, when it does, it is resisted mightily. To hear and believe and obey this truth is to willingly submit oneself to another – maybe several “anothers”. Jesus had all of the power and authority of God because He is God-the-Son – yet He willingly submitted Himself to the God-the-Father. And God-The-Holy-Spirit is in voluntary submission to the other two, yet He as much God as they are. This is our example.
To be a disciple or learner of Jesus Christ we must willingly submit ourselves to be under Him – to subject ourselves to His leadership and authority whether or not we understand how He exercises that authority and in whatever capacity He assigns us. He is also our Lord, so we are compelled to be in obedience for we are His servants as well as His disicples. He has placed every believer into His Body and has assigned a role to each of us to fill.
He has gifted us and blended our talents and abilities into the precise combination that He desires, and then He puts us into use with other members of His Body as He sees fit in order to fulfill His plans and purposes.
Into this mix He “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).”