The truths of this section would apply to God’s servants during any period of Bible history.
Running alongside the truth of service and our relationship with Christ, there is the perplexing subject of suffering. Paul says, “I bear in my body the marks”, etc.
Let us look first of all at verses 24-25, at the relationship between Christ and His servants:
1. They were disciples—He was their Teacher.
2. They were servants—He was their Lord.
3. They were members of the household—He was Master of the house.
The disciple follows the Teacher and is not superior to Him. The servant should not expect to be treated better than His Lord. If men called Christ “Beelzebub”, we His servants can expect insults to be hurled at us.
Discipleship involves sharing Christ’s rejection and suffering.
v. 26-27—Cast in the framework of service and the first of suffering with all the hazards and disappointments the Lord issues His great calls to “fear not.” Do not be afraid of the secret and deceptive means of those who oppose the Gospel. It will all be made public sometime later.
v. 27—The duty of the disciple was to proclaim fearlessly, to all men, the Gospel they had been taught.
v. 28-29—“Fear not them who kill the body.” “The Lord is my helper, therefore I will not fear”, etc. Those who kill the body have no power over the soul.
We should fear God who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Physical death is not a great tragedy for a believer. “It is absent from the body, present with the Lord.”
The worst that can happen to a child of God by man’s instrumentality is really the best thing that could happen to him. So we are exhorted to “fear not them who kill the body.”
v. 29—Note God’s care for the sparrows.
v. 30—Note God’s care for us.
v. 31—The third “fear not.”
v. 32—In view of the foregoing Christ’s disciples should openly and fearlessly confess Him before men, in return He will confess us before the Father.
v. 33—Those who deny the Lord, those who refuse to give themselves to Christ, these will the Lord disown before the Father.
v. 34-39—We must interpret verse 34 in its setting to understand it fully. There is a very real sense in which the Lord came to make peace. When He was born the angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of goodwill.”
v. 35-36—The sense here is that when men and women became believers in Christ, their families would turn against them. This type of incident is happening over all the world today.
v. 37—The cost of discipleship. Christ must be supreme. Many good brethren and sisters are languishing in the sphere of mediocrity because they have failed this crucial test. The mission field is depleted, the home field is suffering because love for Christ has waned. “Those who fail are not worthy of Me.”
v. 38-39—There is another thing that is more apt to rob Christ of His rightful place than love for one’s family, it is love of one’s self.
Alongside the thought of loving one’s life, there is introduced the thought of one’s Cross. These are two conflicting principles. Keeping one’s life, avoiding responsibility and shirking the loss and pain of total commitment.
The Cross speaks of execution and death. It means crucifying the flesh, it means my whole being and life totally abandoned and submissive to Christ.
v. 39—The believer who loves his life and does everything to satisfy it; in the final analysis has wasted it. Those who crucify the flesh with its indulgences and spend their life in the service of Christ, will find life in all of its fullness.
v. 40—This is a tremendous verse. Those who receive a true servant of God receives Christ and also the Father.
v. 41—Those who receive a prophet, because he is a prophet, will receive a prophet’s reward. Those who receive a good man because he is good will receive the same reward as he.
v. 42—Those who show kindness, be it ever so small, to any of my servants it will be rewarded.