TODAY’S READING: Matthew 10
Matthew was very interested in the commission of the Church, but not just at the end of his Gospel. Chapter 9 culminates with Jesus telling us to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers and chapter 10 begins with Jesus doing what He prayed for. Oh, that all our under-shepherds in every global church would do the same: Pray for God to raise up missionaries and then immediately send out their very . The first teaching section in Matthew (Sermon on the Mount) was character based, telling us what kind of missionaries we should be. The second teaching section relates what missionaries should do.
We should respond to Jesus’ call to get intimate with Him and receive His power to cast out demons and heal diseases (v. 1). We should stay focused on the people group He has assigned to us (vv. 5–6). We should preach wherever we go that the King is coming back soon, and we should heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, and raise the dead (v. 7–8). We should minister without asking or accepting payment and trust the Lord to provide our every need (vv. 9–10). We should look for persons of peace (vv. 11–12). We should let God be in charge of how people respond to us (v. 15). We should be wise and brave and expect persecution (vv. 16–18). We should not worry under duress but expect God to give us exactly what needs to be said, and we should expect the Spirit to speak through us (vv. 19–20). We should expect to be betrayed and hated by those close to us, and we should expect to fill up the sufferings of Christ and be hated by all (vv. 21–23). We should endure until the end and not fear (vv. 23–31). Missions is not complicated; it’s just hard. The goal is not to be loved, even as we are constantly loving; the goal is to confess Christ before all peoples (vv. 32–33). The goal is not unity, for Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword (vv. 34–38); the goal is to lose our lives in saving others (v. 39).
The goal is not to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. One of the most misunderstood verses of Scripture is in this decidedly missionary-oriented passage, for the verb “sent” is where we get our understanding of mission. When Jesus sent the twelve out (v. 5), the Greek word is apostolos, where we get our term apostle. Real apostles are those that Jesus sends away from home to preach the gospel where the gospel has not been preached. And it is in this context we are told that “whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple…shall by no means lose his reward” (v. 42). Bluntly stated, giving a cup of cold water in the New Testament is directly connected to the hospitality and given to missionary workers (sent-out ones). It has nothing to do with humanitarian wells or social programs. I’m not saying those activities are wrong; I’m just saying they are not urged by this text, nor are they the goal of missions. If you want to be blessed, support missionaries. That’s the cold-water cup God rejoices to reward.