Matthew 10:26-33

You’ll remember from last Lord’s Day that we were saying that Jesus Christ, the Head of the House and Supreme Ruler of the Church was afforded only disdain in Israel – to the point of being known as Beelzebul! And He had said to His disciples that they were going to be treated in exactly the same way – and with even less hesitancy! He’s opened up for them the heart of depraved mankind toward Christ and His Kingdom; and He’s not held anything back from what’s about to take place!

But, at the same time, our Lord also opens up for them the glories of living in Christ and speaking the Word of Truth. In fact, for every harsh treatment through which they persevere, there are consolations which far outweigh the afflictions!

Remember that the apostles were to understand that when they were afflicted and rejected, it was a rejection of Christ. And they were to have these temporary gifts and revelation from God by His Spirit in order that they might speak the Gospel to kings and governors. And they were assured of His coming death, burial, resurrection and ascension – and that they were actually IN HIM in all those things. Even when He ascended the clouds of heaven to receive dominion and power and the Kingdom, they were to be IN HIM! And then that they were really “as” their Master/Teacher – His identity was actually shared with them. Their suffering was His. And His suffering was theirs. If He suffered so terribly, so would they; and when they suffered it was proof that they were sons of God and joint heirs with Christ! It proved that they were IN Christ and He in them.

This is exactly what our Lord prayed for in His great intercessory prayer later on in the Gospel of John, chapter seventeen, verse fourteen and following. Listen:



 “I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I Am not of the world.  Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the World, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their Word; That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are One….”



“Therefore don’t be afraid of them…,” Matthew ten, verse twenty-six, “beware of the men.” But “You mustn’t be afraid of them! For nothing has been covered the veil over which shall not be removed, and a secret which shall not be made known.” And verse twenty-seven:  “That which I say to you in the darkness, you say in the light; and what you hear in the ear proclaim on the roofs.”



Don’t be afraid of them, because now the Gospel of the Kingdom is to be made public! Everything I’ve told you in private, everything I’ve said to your ears only, all that I’ve said in interpreting the old prophecies, everything with regard to this nation and the Gentiles, all that I’ve said about the New Heavens and the New Earth - it’s all to be uncovered!

1) The new High Priest Who replaces the old priesthood, and Who declares the leper clean. That’s to be uncovered and preached publicly!

2) The new King Who replaces the Kingdom of Israel has declared His Sovereignty over all the nations by healing the Gentile centurion’s daughter and then declaring the centurion’s faith as indicative of many who will come to the new King from the east and the west! That’s to be uncovered and preached publicly!

3) The One Who rejects the following of the Sanhedrin Scribe – declaring to him that he was a part of the animal uncleanness which had infested the land of Israel, so that when the Anointed King finally came He didn’t even have a Kingdom to call His Own! That’s to be uncovered and preached publicly!

4) The Son of God Who foreshadowed His Own resurrection from an inundating storm, and Who then demonstrated His Own God-ordained rights to control all of creation by stopping the quaking of the sea! This is the One Who shook heaven and earth to make it all new! That’s to be uncovered and preached publicly!

5) The King Who went across to the other side to set the nations free from their demonic possession, and Who sent the demons “down under.” That’s to be uncovered and preached publicly!

6) The One Who demonstrated the power that only God can have, by forgiving the sins of the paralyzed man – and, by doing so, further separated the Pharisees from the Covenant. That’s to be preached and uncovered!

7) The great Prophet Who called a turncoat tax-collector to be His disciple; the One Who condemned the outward religiosity of the Pharisees to eternal judgment; The Prophet, Priest and King Who raises from the dead the daughter of a representative ruler. That’s to be uncovered and preached publicly!

8) The Lamb of God Whose Own blood would flow to save His people heals a woman with a twelve-year menstruation. That’s to be preached publicly and uncovered! The great Son of David – and David’s Adonai – Who healed the sight of two blind men. That’s to be preached publicly!

9) The dumb speak and the devils flee and sins are cast out and the dead are raised – and the nation which had been called “God’s Son” was being “shaken out!” And Satan was about to be bound, and the sacrifice was about to be made, and dominion was about to be given to the Anointed King – and a New nation – the New Heavens and the New Earth – was to be established – the government of which was to be on His shoulder! That’s to be uncovered and preached publicly!



And the great Anointed King who sends twelve men to uncover these things and to preach them openly and publicly says to them – go and find the lost sheep of the house of Israel. I’m sending you among wolves to find them. 

But you mustn’t be afraid of them – the wolves. What you’ve seen and heard – what I’ve told you – My words – proclaim them! “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but be afraid rather of the One Who is able to utterly destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

Now the Words and deeds of Christ the King would become public! And never in all the earth was there ever such thunder heard as the voice of the Gospel as it resounded through the whole world – beginning from the mouth of the Son of God – The Word – and through the mouths of twelve men! And Christ here exhorts them to boldness, devoting themselves to preaching, without fear! Without shame! Even though they see the Gospel despised! Even though they see the Lord Jesus Christ despised! “Don’t be in fear; on the contrary, become zealous preachers!”

And here in the verse twenty-eight that I just read, Jesus excites them to despise death! “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body….”

Just a couple of words about the verse itself; it goes without saying that the one who can kill the body and not the soul is any man - or group of men – who would seek to do so. And of this one a disciple of Christ is not to have fear. On the other hand Jesus mentions One Who has the power to utterly destroy both body and soul in Gehenna. Not only to kill the body, but to do much more! And, obviously, that is God. Gehenna we all know to be the “forever burning” pit of garbage and human refuse – situated on the south side of the city in order that the westerly winds off the Mediterranean Sea would favorably distribute the odors and smoky remains in Jordan, rather than back into the City of David! In the language and revelation of God, Gehenna has always been used as a type of hell – a place of absolute abandonment and utter destruction. So Jesus isn’t saying anything new here. He just carries forward into the new situation that which was commonplace language in the old.

But… now that we’ve dealt with the little details in this verse, now we have to do the rest. And the rest isn’t easy. We received a very difficult teaching last Lord’s Day about the persecution Christians receive as a result of being “as” our Master – as a result of having the same “identification.” And we now see that we are to suffer in Him and share His identity.

And I would think that what we now have to learn this Lord’s Day is the most difficult to receive with joy and consolation... difficult for all men – in all times! But especially difficult for those of us in a very soft generation. As I’ve said a number of times, the apostles were being sent in among wolves… it was imminent danger! And they were to preach what they had heard… and uncover what was happening and what was going to happen!

And although there was great apprehension about what they were going to do, they probably didn’t have any trouble at all in believing what Jesus was telling them! But for us… neither have we learned - by experience – what our Lord has taught here, but our generations have been woefully lacking in the preaching of what Jesus says here as well. And for those two reasons we don’t want to believe what Jesus says here… we’re afraid to believe what He says.



“Do not (mustn’t!) be afraid of those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but be afraid rather of the One Who is able to utterly destroy both soul and body in Gehenna….”



The point is, here, that the abandonment of the faith comes, many times, through the bone-shaking dread of death! Animal depravity causes us to fear death and those who might kill us, and it keeps us from the fear of God! Craving this life to the point of fearing what men will do to us drives us away from fear of God. Do you see that? Fear of losing our earthly lives actually drives men, because of depravity, to abandon eternal life!

Men become so fearful of hurting, and dying, and being humiliated that they lose all fear of God and what He can do to our immortal souls! So we have to attend to the distinction Jesus makes here between the two objects of fear. If the fear of God is extinguished by the dread of men, then we pay greater homage to them than we do to God! God will not have it!

So, when we abandon the fear of Him in favor of the fear of death at the hands of men, then we reserve to ourselves nothing more than what the psalmist mentions in Psalm forty-nine, verse twelve: “To be like the beasts that perish….”

God alone, Jesus says, has the power to bestow eternal life, or inflict eternal death. And we forget Him because of the immediate pain of death and the dread of men. Don’t we then set a higher value on the fleeting moment of the present life then we do on the eternal condition of the soul? Don’t we then set a higher value on living in our present bodies than we do on living eternally with Jesus Christ our Lord?

So what Jesus is saying here is… acknowledge that you have received immortal souls which are subject to the disposal of God alone. Do not come under the power of men. In these situations where God and His Kingdom are at stake, men who have been created for heavenly immortality ought to have little regard for this life! They should not fear men, and they should not fear losing their lives to them for the sake of the Gospel – for the sake of Christ – for the sake of suffering in Him!

So, in verses twenty-six and twenty-seven Jesus says that the apostles ought not fear for the Gospel - it will not be suppressed. Everything is going to be unveiled, or uncovered, and all will come to light!

And, now, He says, in verse twenty-eight: “Don’t be afraid for self. Be afraid rather of God!” I suppose the most graphic and vivid example of this very admonition of Christ being heeded is that of Stephen, who, because of His preaching of the Kingdom of Christ, was stoned in public by the wolves who ripped and tore at him in demonic anger. And, as he was suffering at their hands, the inspired text says that heaven was opened up for him so that he could actually see the One with Whom He was identified – the Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Stephen feared God more than men.

In support of that, in verses twenty-nine and thirty Jesus gives the apostles immediate confidence in God’s providential care over the most minute items of His creation. Twenty-nine is special because, as He says, there is no “chance” in the falling of one sparrow. When it falls, it falls because of God - not due to chance, and not due to natural events. But, He says, you have a very special relationship with Him. He’s “your Father,” He says. Not only does one simple sparrow have absolute Providential control over its life and death, but you’re sons of God! He’s your Father!

And in verse thirty He says, “…even the hairs of your head are all numbered!” Now, people have, I’m informed, approximately one hundred, forty thousand hairs on their heads. That’s an average. And each has its own number! And if one is removed, God knows which one it is!

Thirty-one says if not even one sparrow (worth about one-half cent) falls by chance, will God neglect you? You mustn’t fear the pain of death, hurt and humiliation, because you are of great value – you are God’s sons!

And then Jesus provides for His apostles, in verses thirty-two and thirty-three, the ultimate black and white situation. If you deny Me, I Who personally stand before My Father in heaven will deny you. And if you acknowledge Me, then I, Who will stand before My Father in heaven, will acknowledge you.

You don’t fear men, you fear God. You don’t acquiesce to men, you acknowledge Me. You don’t deny me because of the fear of death; you don’t deny Me because of hurt; you don’t deny me because of humiliation; you don’t deny Me because of the “wisdom of the moment,” or prudence, or politics, or for love, or for justifiable consequences, or for the sake of unity!

The word, “confess” that Jesus uses here means to say the same thing. In other words there is absolute identification with Him. That’s what it means to confess Him. Not just the words. Not with waffling. He says… identify with Me, share My identity “BEFORE MEN.” In other words, IN PUBLIC! Be “as” your Mater in public – without fear.

The Lord kind of sums up the course of one’s life here, doesn’t He? Peter denied because of the fear of men. Many have done the same during the ten great persecutions of the Church in history - fear of authorities.

But since there’s little persecution in the United States at this time, other reasons for the denial of Christ come to the forefront, don’t they? And I sometimes think that the fear of losing the favor of men and the profit and advantages men offer is almost as great as the fear of the loss of this life. And most think that the little compromises that we have to make in our “confession” of our “Christianity” is relatively “small” in comparison to the payoff we receive in this life – those small, “gray” areas.

But the consequences of denial are terrible. And what Jesus says here is that all who intimately identify with Him IN PUBLIC He will intimately identify with before His Father. That will be painful - even today it will be painful. But we must not fear men.

Maybe one day it won’t be painful any longer. Maybe one day there will be a re-establishment, in our own country, of the Crown rights of the King; and there will be a reconstruction of all aspects of society. Let’s not rest until we see, under the Lord’s blessing, Christian individuals loving each other in Christian families, and building each other up – and submitting to one another – and worshipping in truly Christian Churches, educating their children in Christian homes and schools, working in Christian businesses, under the protection of a Christian Constitutional Republic and Christian states, governed by Christian elected officials, with Christian judges administering Biblical Law!

And with one overarching law to govern the congress – that no law shall be passed by the Congress of the United States of America which is inconsistent with the will of God as revealed in Holy Scripture.

We work for that and know that it is to be… one day.

But, in the meantime, the fear of men and what they might do to us is equated with the denial of Christ. If we fear them and compromise the faith, then we can’t identify with Christ.

And the nation and the Church is in the midst of the throes of denial. And where are those who are speaking the words of truth to society without fear? 



“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but be afraid rather of the One Who is able to utterly destroy both soul and body in hell….”