FRIDAY, APRIL 7
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 10
This chapter contains so much it is hard to know where to start. For example, there is some interesting stuff about disciples and apostles. There is a discourse on how the Gospel was first taken to the Jews. The Jews’ rejection of the Gospel meant that it would be brought to us Gentiles. (Gentile is a Bible word that refers to everyone who is not a Jew.) There is some eschatology. (Eschatology is a theology word that refers to the last days.) There is some cool stuff about how much God actually cares for us. There is some difficult stuff about how the Gospel actually separates people. Then the chapter ends with some much needed words about rewards. So, out of all of that, what do you pick?
I think I will tackle the disciple/apostle topic and we will see where it goes… When the chapter opens, we find Jesus calling His twelve disciples. In verse 2, however, those twelve disciples were called apostles. So, what are they: disciples or apostles?
The word disciple simply means learner. But in a New Testament context it refers to someone who follows a “teacher” to learn how to live like that teacher lives. In the Christian context, it refers to someone who follows Jesus to learn to live like Jesus. The word apostle means “one sent forth”. In context it refers to someone sent by Jesus with a particular purpose or mission.
By definition then, a disciple is somehow different from an apostle. Although the twelve apostles were disciples, not all disciples were apostles. Biblically, an apostle is one who saw the resurrected Christ and received his commission from Jesus. Furthermore, the original apostles laid the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20). Based upon those Biblical requirements, I don’t think anyone today be an apostle.
The New Testament talks about crowds of people following Jesus. Although there certainly could have been disciples in those crowds, not everyone in those crowds could be considered a disciple. Sometimes people chase Jesus just to see what they can get out of it. In other words, just following after Jesus doesn’t necessarily make you a disciple. Discipleship is a much deeper and more significant thing.
Discipleship is a function of commitment. We should all be committed to learning from Jesus about how to live like Jesus. And we should be committed to helping others learn from Jesus about how to live like Jesus.
But one of the reoccurring themes in this chapter is how hard discipleship can be. In verses 5-15, we encounter the real possibility of rejection. In verses 16-23, we see the potential for incredible persecution as religion and government team up to try to take out Christianity. In verses 34-37, we see the prospect of families being divided over Christianity.
As much as we American Christians want to push back on these kinds of things, we know historically this has always been the case even in the earliest days of Christianity. We also know Christians in certain parts of our world today are facing increasing persecution. And we know, even in our country today, Christianity is not thought well of by an increasing number of people.
But don’t lose heart. Historically, the church has flourished in the face of even the most devastating persecution. It is as though the more humans have tried to stamp out Christianity, the faster the church has grown. And as you finish chapter 10, you see that God has some special rewards for those who have chosen to follow Jesus. Hang in there!