Matthew 10:24-33: Confidently Proclaim the Truth
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Amen.
Do you want to be the kind of person that other people listen to; the kind of dynamic individual that just attracts followers. The person others look to for wisdom and direction. Well, all you need is more confidence! Well that’s actually not true. That’s what most self-help books would have you believe, but it’s not really true. Sure, you might be able to convince people to listen to you for awhile. And maybe in some areas of life it might work. But not in the ones that really matter. Do you think it was an abundance of self-confidence that allowed David to defeat Goliath? Was the reason that Jeremiah was able to stand up against all of the priests who were teaching falsely, because he had this deep trust in himself? Do you think Ehud kept saying to himself “I think I can, I think I can” when he killed the Moabite king and led his people in victory over their enemies? Was Paul so certain of his wisdom that he was able to face off against angry mobs? These men, their confidence had nothing to do with a strong belief in themselves and everything to do with the faith that God had worked in their hearts. A faith that directed their confidence to him.
Let’s take a look at Paul. He had been arrested for something he didn’t do. He was accused of false teaching and for bringing a non-Jew into a part of the temple that only fully Jewish people were supposed to enter. It wasn’t true, but the leaders got the people so worked up that they wanted to kill him. He is rescued by the Roman guards, but also placed under arrest. They hand him over to the religious leaders of the Jewish people for a kind of trial. Now above all other people, these hate him the most. They want him dead. He keeps teaching about Jesus and boy that was not a topic the religious leaders wanted to hear about. They had tried their best to get rid of Jesus but that failed. And now Paul is trying to show them who Jesus was. He takes aim at the high priest. He points out how foolish the Pharisees are. He strikes out at the Sadducees and their errors. Paul spoke boldly. He didn’t do it to make himself look good. He did it because they needed to be corrected. And he knew it probably wouldn’t end well. “The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.” (Acts 23:10)
We wish we could be so bold when talking about God. And I mean in both Law and Gospel. If only we were so eager to share the message of Jesus with those who are lost. To encourage the broken hearted and to bring comfort to those who feel like no one could ever love them. To be willing to step outside our comfort zones and to be the evangelist like Paul. But also to be bold enough and loving enough to correct sin. Not like the Pharisees who had a “better than you” attitude. But like Paul. Who saw the dangers of sins in others’ lives and to want to help them and point them back to God’s warnings and God’s guidance. But. Well. I’m not like Paul. I don’t have that kind of speaking ability! And I’m certainly not like fearless Jeremiah. Man, that guy had no fear in facing off against….well, everyone! He probably spent more time in a jail cell, in stocks, or in muddy pits than almost all the other prophets combined! That’s maybe an overstatement, but Jeremiah was always in trouble all because he spoke the Word of God. I have a family! I can’t be as bold as Jeremiah! I have a job! I can’t risk that! I don’t want to start fights with people in my life. Besides, I lack the confidence, I lack the skill, I lack the knowledge! Someone else will have to be the modern day Paul or today’s version of Jeremiah. It can’t be me.
Excuses. We are great with excuses. And we let those excuses keep our mouths shut. We don’t share the Gospel and we don’t use the Law to warn people about the danger of their sins. God never said that he wants us to start a war of words with the people in our lives. He wants us to use his Word to change hearts. He doesn’t tell us that we have to risk the lives of our family, or lose our jobs, or be thrown into jail. He doesn’t say that you have to have a certain level of ability or knowledge to proclaim his truth. But he does call us to share his Law and Gospel with the people around us. Don’t think he’s serious? “Whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
Thank God that the salvation he has won for us has nothing to do with our self confidence. In fact it has nothing to do with us at all. Our confidence is found in Christ who disarmed the power of the Devil and takes away every reason we have to doubt. Our Savior who defeats every enemy and carried the sins of the world on his shoulders. We don’t have to, and we shouldn’t put our confidence in the weakness of men, but in the strength of God who tells us that he has washed away every one of our sins. And that he has forgiven us for those times when we have been weak. When we allowed fear or excuses to keep us from sharing the message of God. Those times we didn’t encourage the lost and broken with the Gospel because we were too embarrassed or afraid? Forgiven. The opportunities that God gave us to lovingly correct dangerous sins in other’s lives with his Law, he tells us that he has taken those sins away. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25) Do you want to know where our confidence should really be? In our God who keeps every promise.
How else do you think that Jeremiah was able to face imprisonment? How else do you think he was able to open his mouth even though he knew he would suffer again? He went into the court of the Temple and spoke, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: Listen! I am going to bring on this city and all the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against they were a stiff-necked people and would not listen to my words.” (Jeremiah 19:15) One of the officials named Passhur heard this and was furious. He had Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks. The next day Jeremiah is released, and guess what? He turns to Passhur and says, “The Lord’s name for you is not Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side. For this is what the Lord says: “I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will give all Judah into the hands of the king of Babylon…” (Jeremiah 20:3-4) Talk about confidence. But Jeremiah knew this was a message that had to shared. He had to warn Passhur and all of Israel about their sins. Even if they wouldn’t listen. What makes us willing to suffer? The same one who was with Jeremiah. What gives us the patience like Paul who spoke to the same people over and over again, desperately hoping that they would listen to God’s warning? The same one who changed Paul’s heart and our hearts from unbelief to following him! Jesus, who is the perfect Master, the perfect Teacher.
And our perfect teacher who has loved us and saved us is very honest about the hardships we will face for following him. The world’s going to hate us. People will refuse to listen to the Gospel promises. Friends and family will refuse to listen to God’s warnings from his Law. We will be mocked. We might be hated. We might be rejected from the people of this world and they will threaten us. We might even face physical harm and death. But “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31) Who is Jesus talking about here? Most people automatically say that we should not be afraid of the people of this world but that we are supposed to be afraid of the Devil. And we should be on the watch for the Devil. But that’s not the one that Jesus is talking about. Jesus is telling us that we should revere and fear our God. That if we chose to follow the world instead of God then we will be in danger of losing our faith. And that destination is hell. But this isn’t meant to be a threat to scare us. While Jesus is reminding us of how dangerous ignoring God is he is also reminding us how much God loves us and how much care he has for us. The one who carefully and lovingly watches over the simple sparrow says you are worth so much more in his sight.
You have been forgiven and called by God. You are made in his image. With faith worked in our hearts, God calls for us not to have a spirit of fear or timidity, but confidence. Confidence in his power and his love. With his Word he gives you that confidence. Be bold. Trust in your Savior and the message he gives us to share with others. Be confident to know that this world can’t take away what truly matters. Be confident in God’s love and his promise. Proclaim the Truth. “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32) Amen.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.