by Matthew C. Harrison
“Upon this Rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail.” The rock is the great confession of St. Peter, “You are the Christ!” (Matt. 16:13–19). The Rock is Christ Himself for us (1 Cor. 10:4).
With that rock-solid basis, we are freed to be bold in these “Matthew 10 Times.”
- Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Jesus’ words to His apostles apply to us. The world is evil. Jesus implores us to be wise. We are not to act rashly or foolishly. Snakes are able to twist and escape in unbelievable ways. They are wily and patient hunters. We are to act, but as we do so, we are not to use dishonest or deceitful means. We will be kind and loving, yet strategic. We may be sheep, but we have a marvelous Shepherd! “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12). Be bold!
- Matthew 10:17–18: “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.” According to tradition, almost all the apostles died violent deaths. Persecution is rampant in Muslim countries. Muslim converts to Lutheranism in Germany are even now suffering beatings and death threats. We witness the tide of public opinion (particularly in universities, businesses, professional sports and government) turning radically against biblical Christianity. We have LCMS people under government scrutiny and threat of job loss for merely stating that they believe what Jesus says about marriage between a man and a woman (Matthew 19). It will be our lot, and increasingly so, to stand before officials and bear witness to the truth of reason and the truth of Christ and His Scriptures. Let’s confess like the apostles (Acts 4–5). Be bold!
- Matthew 10:19–20: “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” The Lord’s promise to His apostles holds good for us, too. Don’t be afraid! “And take they our life, / Goods, fame, child, and wife, / Though these all be gone, Our vict’ry has been won; The kingdom ours remaineth” (LSB 656: 4). We have many promises, including the gift of the Spirit via Holy Baptism! “He who confesses me before men, I will confess before my father in heaven!” Be bold!
- Matthew 10:21–22: “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Don’t be surprised when those in our own families turn away from the faith. It happened with the apostles. It will happen in these last and difficult times. Yet we shall not cease praying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” More and more, voices of hatred are rising in our culture toward Christians who believe the Bible. Hold fast! “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” says Jesus (Matt. 28:20). Remember the apostles’ amazing response to persecution in the Book of Acts (Acts 5:41). And nevertheless, the Gospel spread! Be bold!
- Matthew 10:23: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” It happened to the apostles, and we shall not be surprised as it happens to us. We shall speak of Christ where we can, and when we are shut down in one place, we shall move to the next and speak again! “Until the Son of Man comes” probably refers to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. God give our pastors the spirit of St. Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19:8). Be bold!
- Matthew 10:24–25: “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” Luther said that suffering is one of the most significant aspects of the Christian’s life. Suffering drives us to prayer and God’s Word. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (Rom. 5:3f.). The man born blind spread the word that Jesus healed him! Yet “they reviled him” and “cast him out” (John 9:28, 34). Expect it! Be bold!
Our house of faith is built on the Rock! “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). Be bold!
Pastor Matthew C. Harrison