Matthew 10:31 – “Fear ye not…”
From the multitudes that followed him, Jesus selected twelve men to receive additional instructions (10:1-4). These messengers were taught how to give the message of the kingdom, the same message proclaimed by both John the Baptist (3:1) and Jesus (4:17). Jesus noted the procedures for their encounters and provisions for their journey (10:5-15), but then the tone and mood changed as he turned his attention to the problems they could expect (10:16).
The vital task of representing Jesus as a messenger of the gospel would be fraught with difficulty, like sending meek sheep among ravenous wolves. The warning was not new (see 5:10-12), but clarified the challenge in this new context of evangelism. They must avoid the danger, like a shrewd snake, but peacefully, like a gentle dove. Nevertheless, the risk remained high for societal rejection, cultural stigmatization, physical mistreatment, legal opposition, family betrayal, and extreme hatred (17-22).
The narrow way is a hazardous way (7:14, 10:16). Yet the hazardous way is still the “happy” way (see “blessed” assurances in 5:10-12). These men were engaged in spiritual warfare for the eternal souls of their countrymen. War is ruthless. The hazards confronting those who shared, and who do share, the gospel is the confrontation with all the hazards of hell. The opposition may deter the path of the gospel (10:23), but it will never stop the proclamation of the gospel (Matt 24:14). Jesus had already experienced opposition; his followers would undoubtedly experience the same (24-25).
Opposition in outreach is nothing new, and we should not be surprised when it happens. The problem confronting us is not our ignorance of the reality of opposition; it is fear in the face of opposition (10:26). We fear rejection, embarrassment, mistreatment, and ridicule. We fear vulnerability and insecurity. People’s opinions of us and their favor toward us are precious to us, and our fear reveals our idolatry. Jesus addressed those fears when he proclaimed the assurance of the Father’s love, oversight, and commendation (29-33). Do not fear what man can do to you (Hebrews 13:6).
The task is clear and simple: proclaim the gospel (10:27). Tell others about Jesus. God sees you, loves you, shepherds you, emboldens you, upholds you, and commends you. Obtain his favor. Forget your fear. Go boldly in the power of the Spirit (Acts 4:31). Proclaim to good news! Go house to house (Acts 5:42)! Reach for souls in your surroundings and your cities (Acts 1:8)! The hazards of hell have been overcome and shall not prevail (Matt 16:18)!
So what’s stopping you now? Fear. Your fear is the only remaining obstacle. People need to hear the gospel, but are YOU standing in the way of someone’s opportunity to go to heaven?
Daily Reading: Matthew 10:16-25
Bible Reading Challenge: 10 Days on Discipleship