Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
This discourse, delivered by Jesus to the Twelve before their first short-term mission trip, has contained many stern sayings, but will now end on a gentle note. Most will not welcome the disciples. But not everyone will refuse their message or persecute their person. Some will receive them and embrace their words.
Matt. 10:40 “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me
receiveth him that sent me.”
Our kindness to fellow believers opens to us more than meets the eye. Huge significance hides in what we do for one another. The recipient of our kindness is merely the leading, thin edge of a sacred wedge, the thick end of which is God Himself. The blessing we give to others on earth mushrooms to God in Heaven.
Chrysostom viewed our text a marvelous gift from Jesus to His followers. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to entertain Jesus? When Master said He comes to us in His servants, He opened to His followers the world’s hearts, hands, and houses.
Jesus values kindnesses done to His followers. Every good deed done in their behalf He considers as performed for Him. We serve a wonderful God, one who does not horde blessing, but instead conveys and distributes it to His people.
The one true living God is not a tyrant treating His subjects like slaves or cattle. He is with us, one with His people. Of all the world religions, Christianity alone claims God draws close to His followers. How intimate is He with us? Our text provides remarkable insight into the issue. Our closeness to Jesus is likened to His with the Father. The bond is absolute. When Jesus says to us, “I am with you always” (MT 28:20), He means it. He tells us, “I blend my life with yours.”
Matt. 10:41 “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall
receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in
the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”
Jesus wanted us to know, when considering the citizens of His kingdom, there are no haves versus have-nots, no bluebirds versus buzzards. Each member of His family shares the Christ-life as an equal. Not everyone can have their lips afire with a prophet’s inspiration, but we can all receive the reward of one who does. We can not all be honored as well-known, tested, righteous believers, but we can all receive the reward of one who is. Those who can speak eloquently for Christ, and all who set good public examples, are not above the rest of us. In God’s eyes, there are no first-class versus second class Christians.
Don’t overlook the value Jesus placed in our text on holiness. A prophet is not the only one He honors. He lauds the holy one as well. Office is important–it matters to be a pastor, staff member, deacon, Sunday School teacher, etc.–but character is the ultimate issue. The world’s greatest heroes are her moral heroes. Holiness matters most. Jesus always safeguarded the ethical theme. Behavior counts. Morals are more important than, and give legitimacy to, any credentials.
The prophets and the righteous, the speakers and the proven–reward is spread among all who help either. Christianity is a symphony, not solo recitals.
Every famous, so-called great, believer has ever been entirely dependent on many who remained relatively unknown. The reward we assume God will shower on His celebrities will also be parceled out on their unacknowledged helpers.
Many in the limelight readily say they could not survive without the love, care, and sympathy of many who never catch the public’s eye. The knight who clapped Luther on the back as he entered the Diet of Worms, and said, “Well done, little monk!” shared in Luther’s victory then and shares in Luther’s crown now.
My dad led me to Jesus. When I was a young preacher, he relentlessly kept finding me places to preach. When I became a pastor, he taught me how to meet with deacons, baptize, offer the Lord’s Supper, conduct funerals and weddings. My reward will never be as large as his, for he has his own, plus all of mine.
D. L. Moody, at the funeral of his mother, looked into her coffin and said, “Oh Mother, you have done more for me than everybody else in the world. You believed in me when I was a wild boy. You prayed for me and loved me. I owe more to you than I owe to everybody else in the world.” Moody moved two continents nearer to God by his astounding preaching, but when the time comes to reward the noble son the dear old mother shall share equally in his reward.
Christ holds a special place in His heart for His quiet people, those whose best works are upholding public people facing tough tasks, sustaining the famous assailed, cheering the well-known sad, encouraging the visible discouraged.
H. L. Gee tells the wonderful story of a country lad who had to overcome many hurdles and difficulties to become a minister. His helper in all the obstacles was the village cobbler. The day the lad was licensed to preach, the cobbler said, “It was always my desire to be a minister, but circumstances made it impossible. You are achieving what was closed to me. Promise me one thing. Let me make and cobble your shoes, for nothing. Wear them in the pulpit when you preach, and then I’ll feel you are preaching the gospel that I always wanted to preach standing in my shoes.” Beyond a doubt, God always saw the cobbler every time the lad stood to preach. No first class versus second class–their reward is the same.
Dr. John E. Clough, one of history’s most remarkable Baptist missionaries, touched India for God. Near his death, he told Dr. Truett a story about his earliest days. After being converted and baptized in a little country church, John began to feel, while following a plow every day, strong impulses stirring in his heart to be a preacher. One day John finally mustered enough courage to mention this longing to the senior deacon, who bluntly tried to suppress him, “John, you could never be a preacher. God does not call a dullard to preach. A man must have some gift of speaking to be a preacher, and you don’t have any gift at all. You won’t want to say anything more about this, John. You should go on to be a good church man, but don’t plan to be a preacher.” John went back to his plow. The intense burning to be a preacher would not go away. He again spoke to the deacon, “I’ve tried to forget about being a preacher, like you told me, but I can’t. I lie awake at night restless and praying about preaching. Let me ask you this question, if God has called me to be a preacher, and if I will study and pray and do my best, won’t He make up for my lack?” The deacon couldn’t trifle with that question, and answered, “Alright, John, we’ll have you talk to the church about it.” The deacon apologetically told the church, “I have talked with John, and have in vain tried to talk him out of doing what he is going to tell you. I’ve asked him to come and tell you what he has told me.” The poor, modest country boy stood up and told the church what he had told the deacon. He voiced his story with halting words, stuttering tongue, and painful embarrassment. When his stammering speech was over, the church people said, “Let us give John a chance. Let us send him away for one year to school.” One man said he would give a hundred bushels of corn, another gave a hundred, others gave eighty, some sixty, and several forty. They took up hundreds of bushels of corn that day, the sale of which sent John away for one year. At the end of the year, John returned. It was noised abroad that John E. Clough was coming home to preach for the first time in the little country church. People from near and far crowded to hear John’s first sermon. When he stood to preach, as Truett described it, the same Spirit that came down on John’s Master in Palestine 1900 years earlier came down on John and his tongue was loosed and his words burned like fire in the dry grass. Women sobbed while he preached, and the strong faces of men softened and were subdued. After the sermon, they gathered around the young preacher and said, “God knows best. John is God’s man.” John E. Clough did in India a work rarely matched in missions annals. One time, his preaching resulted in 2,222 converts baptized in one day. As an old man, John sobbed to Dr. Truett, “If there is any reward coming to me, God will give the same reward to those humble farmers who prayed for me and sent me away to school.” No bluebirds, no buzzards, no haves, no have nots, all are equal in the kingdom.