Paying the price for your ministry
Jerry A Collins
v Does Jesus ministry cause conflict?
v Am I willing to suffer for my faith?
v Why am I not to fear what people may do to me?
As disciples of Jesus Christ we can expect to have an uneasy relationship to the world. In one sense we are to watch out for how we live in the world because everything will eventually be revealed or exposed. In another sense we are to live not fearing what men may do to us since they are limited to only what they can do to us physically. But disciples are to live in the fear of God who has authority over both body and soul. Disciples must know that God loves them, is concerned for them, and knows exactly what they are in need of and when the need exists. On this basis disciples freely and deeply confess Christ knowing that He will also confess them but denial of Christ means to be denied by Him. So what is to be our conduct as we face the hard times of following Jesus? The disciples are going to face hostility after Jesus death and resurrection as in Acts, the Epistles and Revelation. At times Jesus ministry would create conflict as people become polarized in their responses to his message and His missionaries.
1. DISCIPLES PREPARE SELVES FOR OPPOSITION TO CHRIST
Jesus makes it clear that a follower can expect conflict and hostility.
Jesus says their task would be difficult since they would be sent out by Him like sheep in the midst of wolves. This is the idea of being vulnerable to abuse, ridicule, scorn, hatred, and possibly death. So they were to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. That is, sensible and practical in methods and innocent or harmless, not forcibly opposing their enemies. They are to beware of men vs 17 but not to fear them vs 26, 28, 31. To be vigilant and on the lookout constantly prepared to face the opposition that comes from following Christ is the point. Not fear but vigilance. The reason is they will deliver you up and you shall even be brought. The opposition will be from two fronts; (1) From people who prioritize religious systems. We see this with the Pharisees use of the religious courts in both the life of Christ and the disciples vs 17. (2) From those who prioritize political systems vs 18. In both cases the purpose is to silence the witness. Jesus even extends this to the betrayal of family members vs 21. Something we see today with converts from Islam to Christianity for instance. But there is a point to all of this—one greater than ever trying to avoid this opposition—and that is facing it for Christ’s sake. As a testimony to them and to the Gentiles 18. Be prepared to use these opportunities to tell them about Jesus Christ. Peter says always ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you 1 Peter 3:15.
2. DISCIPLES WILL BE GIVEN WORDS TO SAY WHEN OPPOSED
A disciple has no need to become anxious about how or what you will speak 19. If you do then you are thinking about yourself rather than Christ. The reason is because you will be given in that hour the words you are to speak. In fact, those words will come by means of the Holy Spirit in you. You will receive this power for a specific kind of situation like this. Here the Spirit is called the Spirit of your Father in the sense that the Spirit is identified with the Father in the work of our witness. The Father, Son and HS are each involved in the same work and ministry but not in the same way. So we can be assured that opposition and persecution, includes two elements: (1) One we prepare ourselves for acknowledging the opposition inevitably to come from our following Christ and (2) One God prepares us for as to what we should say when we are opposed.
3. DISCIPLES ENDURE OPPOSITION TO THE END
Opposition can broaden-as seen in the religious and governmental courts—and it may intensify as seen in the betrayal of family members even to death vs 21. In either case, the disciple will be hated by all on account of My name 22. This is something that can be expected to happen not just in the lifetime of the disciples—although we have a thorough record of that—but will go on through the ages. During the Tribulation this opposition will be most intense toward which some of this imagery is projected when compared to Matt 24:9-14. Jesus name is decisive and demands altercation. So a disciple must be one who has endured to the end who will be saved. For a faithful disciple bearing under the load of opposition for Christ in his life can expect deliverance or rescue. On the one hand God promises rewards for those who overcome and endure opposition and persecution for Christ. On the other hand, this may also project toward the time of the intensified persecution of the Tribulation when many will become martyrs but many other disciples will be saved from death and survive to the end of the 7 yr Tribulation. But whenever they persecute you in this city flee to the next 23. When you are opposed move on to another place—keep going for Christ until He comes for you. You shall not finish meaning do what you can and somebody else will finish it. Do what you can where you can enduring and witnessing knowing the work is never finished.
4. DISCIPLES BECOME LIKE THEIR TEACHER
Since a disciple is beneath his teacher in knowledge and wisdom and a slave beneath his master in social and economic standing, then a disciple learns and a slave obeys. The purpose is for the disciple to become as his teacher and the slave as his master vs 25. In other words, the logical result of being like Christ is being treated like Christ. The imagery switches to head of household and household meaning that family should not expect different treatment than the head of the household. Jesus was called Beelzebul. Despised by the Jews they used this to describe Satan and derogatorily attributed Jesus as working with him (Mt 12:24-27; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15-19). The more like Christ we are the more unattractive we are to those who reject Christ.
5. DISCIPLES DO NOT FEAR THOSE WHO OPPOSE THEM
Three times He states this and three reasons He gives for this. (1) All that is done in secret will be exposed 26-27. There comes a time when the secrets of hearts will be revealed 1 Cor 4:5; Rom . Nothing is done that escapes His eyes. In fact this is why He alone is to be feared. Opposers will have their schemes brot to light and shouted from rooftops—God will bring all of this to account. (2) God is to be feared not men 28. God will judge a person after death. Man can only do so before death. God can cast both body and soul in Gehenna 28 a place in Israel where wicked kings of Israel worship Baal including offering children in flaming sacrifice (2 Kgs 16:3; 23:10; 2 Chr 28:3; Isa 66:24; Jer 7:31-32). There is a real end-time judgment and that torment is eternal -15. (3) God cares for you and knows you intimately 29-33. This illustration implies God’s care for his disciples even if death is part of that discipleship not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father 29. Not even these insignificant birds escape God’s attention much less His disciples facing opposition. There is no need to worry about how God will take care of you. Knowing even the numbers of hair and the life of sparrows, He is aware of your situation facing rejection for Christ. You are much more valuable than they are.
6. DISCIPLES EXPRESS COMMITMENT TO JESUS
The one who confesses Christ before men, Jesus confesses before the Father. Luke says angels will hear this as witnesses Lk 12:8-9. In contrast denying Christ is denial by Christ before the Father. People have 2 options—accept or reject. Is this one act or a pattern? Contrast Peter and Judas. Peter did deny three times and regretted and responded later with numerous public declarations of Christ. Judas denied Christ, tormented rather than declaring Christ committed suicide. Peter was a denial of nerve while Judas was a denial of the heart. The one who denies, functions as a summary description of a life of denial.
1. We have to determine to be a disciple of Jesus. 2. Cost and sacrifice and the cross are the badges of discipleship. 3. The Father honors and is pleased with disciples.