Dare To Share

Dare to Share

A Study of Matthew 10

Introduction: Research from the Barna Group says that 47% of practicing Christian millennials believe it’s wrong to evangelize, to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will convert.But I would argue the only thing you can do with Good News is to share it. This is the theme of the second of the five great sermons that comprise the Gospel of Matthew. The first sermon is the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7). The second sermon is the Sermon on the Messengers in Matthew 10, in which Jesus gave instructions to His disciples before sending them out on their first evangelistic mission.

Background: Verse 1: Jesus called the twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority…. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the president plenipotentiary of heaven and earth. The word authority describes the way He spoke and acted on this planet. The people were amazed at Him because He taught them as one who had authority and not as the scribes. Here in Matthew 10, Jesus was taking His authority and vesting in them the authority to share His message.

Last year, Katrina and I visited Washington, D.C. We walked by the White House and there was a man with a bullhorn hollering to the crowds. There was a man with the microphone speaking into a camera. There were people with signs, demonstrating and advocating. But none were authorized by the President to speak on His behalf. If we could gone inside we might have met the Press Secretary. We might have met the Chief of Staff. Those are the people who are truly authorized to speak for the president, to deliver his message, to speak with his authority.

There are a lot of people hollering through bullhorns today. There are a lot of people standing in front of cameras. There are lots of people demonstrating and advocating. But only a few people on this planet are authorized to speak for the King and to deliver His message—and you are one of them. When you share the Gospel, you speak with authority.

Jesus said at the end of Matthew—All authority is given to Me in heaven and on earth, therefore you go, preaching, baptizing, teaching.

Verse 2: These are the names of the twelve apostles. Notice the change of terminology. Look at these two verses again: He called His twelve disciples, gave them authority, and then they were apostles. This is too obvious to miss. Matthew changes terms here, and it isn’t subtle. What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?

Well, the word “disciple” means “someone who follows another to learn from him.” One day Peter and Andrew were out on the shores of the Sea of Galilee mending their nets and fishing and plying their trade, and Rabbi Jesus walked by. He said, “Follow Me,” and they left their boats and they followed Him.

The followed Him up into the hills of Galilee where multitudes gathered and Jesus began teaching them saying, “You are salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost is saltiness, how can it be made salty again. It is good for nothing except to be thrown into the street and be trampled underfoot. You are the night of the world. A city shining on a hill cannot be hid, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket but on a lampstand that it might give light to all the house. Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

The disciples felt Jesus were speaking personally to them, and He was, and they drunk up every word and asked Him what He meant, and they were His pupils.

That’s what it means to be a disciple. When you sit down and open your Bible every day and read it and pray, Jesus has a way of speaking to you and me just as personally as to those original disciples.

But then these disciples were authorized by Jesus Christ and they became apostles.

What does the word apostle mean? It means someone who is sent out on a mission. Jesus was about to send these twelve men out on their mission. A few years ago, Katrina and I made a trip to Paris. But we were going as tourists. But if I were Secretary of State, and the President sent me to Paris to negotiate with members of NATO, I would be an apostle. I would be on a mission authorized by a higher power.

We aren’t on this planet to be tourists. When you come to Jesus Christ and follow Him as His disciple, you become His apostle. You are here on this planet on a mission. Paul said, “We are Ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us.” He did not say, “I am an ambassador for Christ.” He said, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us.”

When you realize this, it changes all your plans and priorities in life. It doesn’t necessarily mean you become a professional vocational member of the clergy. It means whatever your calling and career, you’re an Ambassador for Christ.

And now, Matthew introduces us to the Twelve Apostles.

  • Simon Peter—probably the best known. The first half the book of Acts is devoted to His ministry after the resurrection of Christ. We know he ministered in Jerusalem and Judea. He went up to Caesarea and brought the Gentiles into the church. He went into Asia Minor, and he went to Greece, traveling with his wife and preaching the Gospel, and he ended up in Rome where he was reportedly crucified during the days of the mad emperor Nero.
  • Andrew—every time we see Andrew in the Gospel he is introducing someone to Jesus. According to the church historian Eusebius, Andrew ended up in southern Russia near the Black Sea, evangelizing and preaching and teaching, and there he was finally stoned to death for his faith in Christ.
  • James, the brother of John. We know exactly what happened to James. He fearlessly promoted the message of Christ, enduring arrests and floggings, until he was killed in Acts 12 by King Herod.
  • John. We also know what happened to John. He traveled with the Gospel throughout modern day Turkey until he became the leader of the churches in the region around Ephesus. He had a circuit of churches—the seven churches of Asia. He wrote the Gospel of John. He wrote three letters—1, 2, and 3 John, and he was exiled to the prison island of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation.
  • Philip – preaching in Judea until he was driven out and he went north and west into present day Turkey where he established a ministry in the city of Hierapolis, a great Roman city famous for its hot springs. It was a health resort, with people coming from all over to vacation there. It was a strategic place of evangelism, and Philip died there for his faith. Some accounts say he was stoned and others that he was crucified.
  • Bartholomew, who was also known as Nathanael. According to very old records in Christian history, Bartholomew went eastward, to Turkey and to Persia and to Iran and to Azerbaijan, which is between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. His death was very gruesome. He is said to have been flayed alive, skinned alive, and then beheaded.
  • Thomas. Just as the apostle Paul went westward into Europe, the apostle Thomas went eastward into Central Asia and on to India. To this day, pilgrims visit his tomb in the city of Matras.
  • Matthew, the tax collector, who wrote this very Gospel. Matthew remained in the land of Israel as long as he possibly could, writing his Gospel and preaching to the Jewish people. When he could no longer stay, he too went eastward, to Persia, the land of Iraq and Iran, some traditions say he also traveled to North Africa, where he probably died.
  • James the son of Alphaeus. This seems to have been the brother of Matthew. What happened to James is a little difficult to know, because there were several men named James in the early church, but it’s likely that he went to the land of Syria with the Gospel.
  • Thaddaeus we believe went to Armenia and Azerbaijan, working in the same general areas as Bartholomew, between the Black and Caspian Seas. Later it’s likely the traveled down to Syria and northern Persia, where he was died.
  • Simon the Zealot. This man was called a Zealot because when he came to Christ was apparently member of a radical band of Jewish extremists who wanted to overthrow Rome. In the days of the book of Acts, Simon apparently took the Gospel to Egypt, then through North Africa to Carthage, and from here up to Spain, and according to traditions, he traveled from Spain to England, to Glastonbury and to London.
  • And then there was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him and committed suicide.

All over the world, east and west, north and south went these apostles, and thousands like them, like mighty wave, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world. And to think that here we are 2000 years later with the same mission.

Verse 5 says: These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions, and that brings us our Lord’s Sermon to the Messengers. The instructions He gives here about sharing the Gospel are transferable and very practical and helpful. Jesus was masterful at telling us how to introduce others to him.

1. Start Where You Are (Matthew 10:5-10). Verses 5-6 say, Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. The Gospel was to go first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Jesus also knew the disciples needed to start where they were. We have to start where are we. Look around you wherever you are, and realize that is your most immediate zone for sharing Christ by the way you live and the way you act. It begins in your home, in your school, on your team, in your place of work. The Lord probably isn’t going to send you to some distant land if you aren’t of use to Him where you are you.

2. Look for receptive people (Matthew 10:11-15). Verse 11 says, Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at the house until you live. This has become a key strategy for reaching Muslim people with the Gospel. Missionaries in Islamic lands look for a “man of peace” who will show some signs of welcome, and somehow this person often becomes a key to winning others in his region. Whenever I share something about my faith, I look for any sign of receptivity.

3. Expect resistance (Matthew 10:16-36). Look at verse 16: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. It’s very hard to be a spokesperson for Christ if you’re afraid of rejection. You can’t let yourself be discouraged if people don’t listen.  This is by far the longest section of the Lord’s message. He prepared His followers for inevitable persecution.

4. Remember that God is speaking through you in ways beyond what you realize (Matthew 10:20). Look at verse 20: It will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. In its immediate context, Jesus was telling them that when they were arrested and brought before public officials not to worry about what to say for the Lord would help them say the right things and speak through them. But there is a broader application to this verse. Remember the verse I quoted earlier: We are ambassadors for Christ as though God were making His appeal through us. When Jesus returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to continue His own ministry by means of the Holy Spirit through us. I’ve never gotten over this thought, that whenever I quote Scripture and share the message of Christ, it’s the Lord Jesus Himself speaking through me by the Holy Spirit. That completely changes the mindset with which we undertake anything we do for the Lord.

5. Stay Committed. Serving the Lord like this as His own personal disciple and apostle is the highest duty and greatest calling the world (Matthew 10:37-42). Look at verses 37-39: Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Who does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it.

Conclusion: I was flying through Chicago to Tulsa, Oklahoma. When I got to Chicago, I learned my flight had been canceled. I was being diverted to Houston, and apparently I got the last seat on the plane. Well, on the way to the gate I stopped at a restaurant and got a chickpea salad to go. I thought I’d eat it on the plane. When I got to the gate, a groups of sailors were boarding—all of them young men in their uniforms. I was the last to board, and I had a window seat beside one of those young men. I saw down and said, “Hello, sailor,” and he nodded. As I was getting settled into my seat, I noticed the compartment in my backpack where I keep my billfold was unzipped. As the plane taxied to the runway, I started looking for my billfold. I didn’t have much money in it—about $20—but all my identification and credit cards were there. I looked over at the sailor and said, “I can’t find my billfold. Would you mind to hold this,” and I took every single thing out of my backpack and laid it on his lap and had that sick feeling that I had lost my billfold at O’Hare Airport. I packed everything up and said, “Thank you for your service,” and I said, “Aren’t you hot?” The plane was sweltering and he was in his wool uniform. He said, “We graduated yesterday from boot camp and we’re on the way to our posting in San Antonio.”

He fell asleep and I ate my chickpea salad and worried about my billfold.  But the Lord seemed to nudge me and say, “You should witness to him.”

I said, “Lord, I don’t feel like witnessing. I’m worried about my billfold.” But when the Lord is nudging you, it’s no good resisting. And by and by the sailor woke up. I was still so worried my billfold that I didn’t feel like getting into a conversation with him and I didn’t have anything creative to say. So I just looked over at him and said, “I’m a Baptist preacher. Do you have any questions about God?”

He looked me and then he looked at the seat in front of him and he said, “Actually, sir, I do.” And he began asking me very good, very thoughtful questions, and I reached my backpack and got my preaching Bible, one I’ve had for a number of years. You’ve seen it here in my hands many times. I started turning to one passage after another, and I took him to the book of Romans and explained how a person becomes a Christian. He was so thoughtful and so focused on what I was saying that I said to him, “I don’t want to pressure you, and I know you may want to think this over, but if you would like to become a follower of Jesus Christ right now and give your life to Him, I’ll help you do that.”

He said, “When my parents broke up I used to lay on my bed and pray over and over to find God. I would like to do that. I would like to pray for Christ to come into my life.”

And that at 35,000 feet I had the joy of praying with him. And then I asked him if he had a Bible, and he said maybe there was a small one somewhere in his gear. I said, “Well, this my preaching Bible. I’ve preached from it around the world, but if you promise to read it every day, I’ll give it to you.”

He said, “I promise.”

Then he said, “I wasn’t supposed to be on this flight. My flight was cancelled.”

“Same for me,” I said.

He said, “Do you suppose this is an accident that we ended up together here.”

I said, “I don’t think so.”

And when I got off the plane in Houston I didn’t have my billfold or my Bible, but I was about as thankful and happy as a man can be. And to follow up with the story, my sailor has been reading the Bible every day. He has read through Matthew and Mark, and we keep up by texting. And I even got my billfold back, thanks to a very honest restaurant employee.

Someone said:  This short life wills soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.

We aren’t here on this planet as tourists. We are here on assignment. Maybe this week. We are here to be disciples and to be apostles. To come and learn, and to go and tell.

You are salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost is saltiness, how can it be made salty again. It is good for nothing except to be thrown into the street and be trampled underfoot. You are the night of the world. A city shining on a hill cannot be hid, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket but on a lampstand that it might give light to all the house. Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.