Matthew 10:24-26

Matthew 10:24-26


At the end of the hour last Lord’s Day we were hearing about the “coming” of the Son of Man before the throne of His Father to receive the Kingdom, and dominion, and power, and glory.  And this glorious “coming” of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven was to occur – by all means – before the apostles finished going through all the cities and towns of Israel, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and finding the lost sheep of the house of Israel!

So, in addition to being rooted and engrafted into the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostles had this motivating anticipation of the grand events which were promised by Christ; and, I’m sure, their perseverance in these terrible circumstances was reinforced by that.  That’s the kind of “vision” that is so valuable to the work of the Church in the world.  It’s the vision of Christ in dominion!  And without it the Church withers and dies – and that’s the case with fundamentalist and dispensationalist Churches today.  There is no future.  There is no “King” yet!

In addition to those things, Christ now presents to His apostles another bedrock reason for their preservation and their perseverance.  And it’s a bitter pill for those who still have hearts of stone; and it is excruciating for those who claim to be believers but who retain their arrogance.  And to those Christians who are involved in one form of rebellion or another, it is non-sensical and unreasonable.  But to those who are under affliction and persecution and must suffer for the faith - and who hold to the faith as their most prized possession – it is a jewel of inestimable value.

Now, I think that it will be difficult for any of us – myself included – to grasp the wholeness of what Christ teaches here.  And I say that, not because we can’t understand the Scriptures by His Spirit when they are read and preached!  So don’t misunderstand me when I say this.

But the facts are, by way of example, that it is extremely difficult to teach Christianity to one who has not received the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit!  It’s so very hard to make one humble before God unless he’s suffered the humiliation of his own pride!  And it’s impossible to teach the joy – Biblical joy – that is ours in Christ unless one has been caused to mourn his own sin first!

And so the reason, then, that it will be difficult for any of us to conceive and comprehend the fullness of it (what Christ teaches here) – although we can hear and understand – is that none of us have had to suffer the depth of affliction which some of our forebears have had to endure.  And that, of course, includes the twelve disciples who received the words of our text here in Matthew.

They were sent among wolves who rebelled with all their might against this “man” who said that He was the Son of God/Son of Man and the Messiah of Israel!  And they lashed out in great violence against this One Who said that He was going to the Gentiles!  And He and many of  His disciples would be crucified and stoned to death due to the claim that He was, indeed, God.

And in almost any era, in the past two thousand years, stories can be found concerning men and women who have suffered that same kind of deep affliction and persecution for the sake of Christ – and in Christ.

But none of us in this room – and in fact nobody that I presently know – has even been through the horror that is described by Jesus here in this text.  So therein lies some of the difficulty.  This is not to say that affliction and persecution isn’t present at some level!  Not at all!  And I would never state that what is taught here cannot be received and enjoyed as our own!

But the depth and vigor of the antagonism against Christ in Israel in 30 A.D. has never been duplicated in America – thank God!  And when and if we do receive open torment from Christ’s detractors, I hope that chapter ten of Matthew is a very part of your essence as a regenerate son of God – and joint heir with Christ.

For Jesus has taught His disciples, up to this point in the text, that they would be persecuted on account of Him.  And in His Name.  And this is a comfort in and of itself – that the affliction we receive from others isn’t because of us, personally; it’s because of Him!  And Jesus has even given the apostles an office with temporary gifts.  And He’s told them that they would even receive direct revelation from God to preach the Gospel in times of great suffering!  These are words of great comfort to them – that God would preserve them, and that they would persevere in tribulation!

And, further, Jesus has indicated their engrafting into Himself in His suffering and crucifixion and burial and resurrection.  And, as we heard last Lord’s Day, our Lord shores up their faith by sharpening their anticipation of His “coming” in the clouds of heaven to receive dominion as He comes before the throne of the Father!  All of these things are bedrock reasons for the perseverance of the apostles, and for the lost sheep of the house of Israel – and for our perseverance!

And He now continues, in verses twenty-four and twenty-five – and beyond – to penetrate and deliver to them the profound depth of the relationship that they now enjoy with God the Son, and to plumb the mysteries of their part in the Kingdom as joint heirs with the suffering servant of God!

Let’s read the text again, now, before we begin to examine it: verse twenty-four and twenty-five: 


“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a servant over his master.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his teacher, and the servant as his master.  If they called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of house?”


Now, with regard to persecution, hatred, rejection and affliction, the disciple’s relationship to Jesus is exampled here.  Since they are being rooted in Him and connected to Him through faith, then they become as He is.  They take on the characteristics – they become identified with Him!

The first example He gives is the disciple/teacher relationship.  The disciple isn’t above his teacher – he becomes as His teacher.  He takes on the spirit of his teacher and remains under his teacher.

In the second example – the master/slave example – the master owns the slave, and the slave never becomes above his master; but the slave is identified by his master!

Now, these two relationships ought not to be taken further than Jesus intended by the examples; but they ought to be seen in their fullness as cosignificative of the identity of the twelve apostles with regard to Jesus.  And not only them, but also that of the lost sheep of the house of Israel as they are found – and us as well!

And now, by way of explanation of that so that we can better understand it, we have to know the difference between the two little words “as” and “like.”  Jesus said that the disciple isn’t above his teacher, he becomes “as” his teacher.  The slave never becomes above his master, he is “as” his lord.  Jesus didn’t use the word “like,” as in the disciple becomes “like” his teacher; or the slave becomes “like” his master.  The word is “as.”

So, in order that we can distinguish between the two, let me give you an example of the word “like.”  At the beginning of First John chapter three we see that the apostle takes us one step further than the objective truth that we are “sons of God.”  He says that we shall become “like” Him!  We shall be made similar to Him – we shall resemble Him – we will “image” Him!

Now, Jesus did not use that word “homois” – like – here in verses twenty-four and twenty-five; He used the word “hos” – as.  So the “likeness” of His people to their Lord, as great as that doctrine is, is not what the Lord is giving to the apostles here.  Now, the fact that the examples here are with regard to the teacher/disciple relationship and the master/slave relationship would lead us to believe that Jesus is explaining His role as teacher and master, and that the apostles are disciples and slaves.  And I have no doubt that those relationships were chosen for that reason.  But I don’t think that Jesus was expounding on those relationships, as important as they are!  They’re not the central issue.

But what He’s unveiling here is that the apostles share His identity!  Being “like” Him, or bearing similarities to Him, although a glorious doctrine of the faith, and though it is an unaltered and eternal truth, is not the issue here in Jesus’ statement.  The apostles – and those after them – were in Him and participating in all His glorious virtues, and, as Jesus says here, they became “as” their Lord and shared His identity!

And as the disciple considers it an honorable state to be considered “as” his teacher; and as slaves don’t refuse to share the condition of their masters, and the identity of their master, so the apostles shared the condition and identity of Jesus.

And once the Teacher has poured out His Spirit to His disciples, the disciples don’t consider themselves above the Teacher!  And once the master has bought and owns a slave, the slave doesn’t then consider himself above his master!

So the identity of Jesus is shared with His apostles.  They live in Him and He lives in them.  He is their lord and they are His servants; and they become “as” He is – which includes the persecution, suffering and humiliation of their master!  Did you hear that? – with all of your cognitive “ears” open?  The disciple/slave shares the full identity of his teacher/lord – including his persecution, his suffering and his humiliation.

In other words, Jesus’ lot as Lord of the house – the teacher and the master – was reproach and humiliation.  And He has no divided house – His household members share that lot and identity!

And that’s where the term Beelzebul comes in at the last half of the verse, verse twenty-five.  And, by the way, the spelling is B e e l z e b u l.  Beelzebul.  Not Beelzebub.  And this, in my opinion, is a very clear play on the Old Testament word.  Spelled one way it means “lord of the domicile,” or “lord of the household.”  Spelled another way it means “lord of the flies” – having reference to the horrendous number of flies around the thousands of slaughtered animals in the temple.  But both spellings no doubt being brought forward from Second Kings, the opening verses.

And without taking the time to go into that whole story, let me just say that the term Beelzebul was the most reproachful term the Jews of Jesus’ time had!  And Jesus was called Beelzebul by His detractors as the lowest and most detestable imaginable – in order to render Him detestable to the multitudes of Israel!  Brought forward from that Old Testament passage, the term had to do with the greatest enemy of religion; it was used as a familiar epithet of loathing and contempt for idolatry and idol worship!  The foulest devil, the worst one, the prince of the rest!  This was even the one that brought in the multiples of millions of flies to foul the

Holy Place

Now, it’s obvious – not only from this word, but from all the other information we have about the Lord and His ministry – that He was the object of great reproach.  Being called the enemy of religion in Israel, and the lord of the flies, and being the One who took the derision of the whole country wasn’t an easy thing to do.  But He willingly submitted to all of this reproach – for us.

Now, since it’s His lot to do that, and, like I said, He willingly did it for us, but since it’s His lot, He asks, are we above Him?  Are we better than Him?  Or do we share His identity?

He didn’t decline to undergo rejection, pain and derision – should we be ashamed to do so and decline?  The disciple is conformed to his teacher; and the servant to his master – Are we too delicate or tender if we account it too hard to persevere in reproach of the same kind He went through?

What consolation is here for us in tribulation?  Our Lord Jesus Christ shares His identity with us – and what perseverance that gives us in time of rejection and reproach?!  The disciple reckons it an honorable state to be considered as his teacher!  And slaves don’t refuse to share the condition of their masters!  They don’t venture a higher status!  They don’t wish to be above their master!

And if we receive persecution – if we are the recipients of hatred – if we are the butt end of the reproaches of other people because we have the identity of our Lord, then we shouldn’t be surprised and think it to be a strange thing – since the Head of the House suffered all these things before us!

What is there that you can think of that would be of greater consolation when everyone has turned on you on account of Christ, than to be fully aware that our Lord Jesus Christ has shared His identity with you, and that qualifies you to suffer with Him!  That which is begun in the Head should be completed in the members of the family!  And let’s not forget, with regard to the last statement in verse twenty-five, that it is always easier to hate and reproach the members than it is the head!  Besides, we’re the flies!

And to take this one step further, let me say that the writer to the Hebrews said that Moses and the prophets were servants; but that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and Heir (Hebrews three, one) – though Jesus bestows upon them the honor of calling them “brethren” (Hebrews two, eleven).  Yet He is the First-born (Romans eight, twenty-eight) and Head of the Church (or Master of the House); and, in short, He possesses supreme government and power.

And yet, the Supreme Head of the Church, God’s Annointed King, willingly suffered the most crass reproaches of men – even to the point of being known all over the nation as Beelzebul – the lowest and filthiest of the demons!

Therefore, nothing can be more absurd, nothing can be more incomprehensible, nothing can be more insensitive and thankless than to wish to be counted as a believer and yet to murmur against God when He conforms us to the image of His Son, whom He has placed over all His family as teacher and Lord!  Upon what kind of insensitive and unthankful pedestal do we pretend to sit if we wish to have a place in His Household, and yet be above Him?  Who do we think we are? – what masters of the universe do we think we are? – what gods over all do we think we are when we wish to be counted as full members of the body of Christ? – and to be identified with Him – yet wish to decline any of the reproaches of men!  We wish to decline to be involved in the hatred of the world order!

On the flip side of that, there is no way possible for us to be identified with Jesus – to be “as” our teacher and Lord – without sharing in His humiliation.  His earthly life of reproach is a foreshadowing of something that will continually confront and harass the life of the Church through the development of the Kingdom until He returns.

No one who calls Him “lord” can possibly expect to live in quiet obscurity and peace with the world order; but to share His identity is to suffer the same humiliation.  To share His identity is to have the greater part of the world order around us rising up in hostility against us.  And in some periods of our history even pursuing us to the death.

But the great consolation is that when we suffer on account of Him, when we are persecuted in His Name, when we receive the reproach and hostility of family, friends, co-workers, government and courts, we know that we are sons of God; and that we are in His Only Begotten Son; and that we actually share His identity – we are “as” our teacher and our Master.