The Messengers - Part 5Posted: Fri. Aug, 5 2016
The Messengers, part 5.
The final part of our series on the messengers sent out by Christ to bring His word into the world naturally deals with the fruit of the messenger.
MAT 10:40-42 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward."
The bearers of Jesus' word are given a final word of promise for their work - the fruit. The fruit or reward for the messenger is from a completely different sphere than the world. As soon as most people hear the word reward their minds automatically go to the four areas of the world's desire: fortune, fame, pleasure (fleshly), and power. But none of these are in view. Christ received nothing from these four desirous categories and the fellow workers of Christ will be like Him in all things.
They are to meet those to whom they are sent as if they were Christ Himself. When they enter a house, Christ goes with them. They represent Him and are bearers of His presence, and so they bring with them the most precious gift in the world, Jesus Christ. And because He is God and in the Father, they also bring the Father, meaning they bring the plan of forgiveness and victory in life. Since Christ is the sender of the Holy Spirit they also bring the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when a person moves into a new neighborhood, a neighbor brings over a plate of brownies. The messenger of Christ brings the Trinity and their ministry and gifts, and sure, he can bring the brownies too.
As we have seen in this short series, the messenger sacrifices and suffers in his ministry. MAT 10:14 "And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet."
MAT 10:16-18 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles."
MAT 10:21-22 "And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all on account of My name."
MAT 10:25-26 "If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! "Therefore do not fear them."
Verses 40-42 is the reward and fruit of their toil and suffering - they will be received by some, and with them, the messenger and the receiver of the message will share in the spoils and the joy of Christ's gift. Every service rendered to the messenger is service to Christ Himself. This means grace for the church as well as for the disciple. The ones who receive in joy will serve the messengers and so serve the church. No church could have ever survived if this were not true. Hence, no matter who started the messaging work, the body of Christ becomes knit together and they serve one another and they share in Jesus' incomparable gift.
The messenger is not to enter into the midst of the lost sheep in vain. He is to always bring with him the incomparable gift and be ready to give it. So then, he must not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit, but walk by means of the Spirit into the midst of those in need of Christ. There is a law in the kingdom of God which simply states that all who receive God's gifts willingly participate in those gifts. There is not one gift that God has given that doesn't have a use and a purpose. The gift of the gospel carries with it the call to participate in the gospel by walking in the great joy of the good news and always being ready to share that good news and thus share Christ. 1CO 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
ROM 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."
The one that receives a prophet receives a prophet's reward. When He says "in the name of a prophet," it clarifies for us that he doesn't just receive the prophet into his house as a kind gesture without knowing or caring about the gift that God has put within the prophet. To receive a prophet in a prophet's name is to know that he has a message from God within him. So what is the reward? It is a prophet's reward. And what is the reward to the prophet that is the same as the one who receives him? It is none other than the prophecy itself. The reward to the prophet, a temporary gift in the early church before the completion of the canon of scripture, is that he prophesies. His heart becomes filled with the revelation of God's truth, but what good is the gift if that revelation is kept to himself? It is the message of God that is his reward and the one who receives him also receives that message. Wealth, power, fame, or worldly pleasure are not in the same league as this reward.
It is the fulfillment for that which we have been created that is the greatest reward of life. So many, including Christians, scour the earth in search of the rewards of power, wealth, fame, and pleasure and they fail to see that a far, far greater reward lies simply in fulfilling the reason for which they have been created. The word of God is alive and powerful and its revelation in the early church, just as it is to anyone now, is the most precious gift in the world since it reveals that reason. This shows us that the messenger, whether he existed in the first century with the gift of prophecy, or if he is any believer, depicted by the righteous man, finds his reward in only giving the message to the one in need. This is all he desires, for it is the true purpose of the messenger. The fruit of his labor, his toil, his suffering, his persecution is that in some cases, his message, which is Christ Himself, is received and he and another share in the gift that is Christ. The scales of the balance are as lopsided as can be. The side carrying the reward far outweighs the side of the cost.
He who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man receives a righteous man's reward. The same meaning concerning "in the name of" applies. The righteous man is not just accepted into a home as a stranger who needs a place to sleep, but he is known to be a disciple of Christ and is accepted as such a one. The one receiving him is one who believes and so receives what that righteous man has in Christ - righteousness! Hence again, the reward is nothing temporal. It is the fact that he is righteous. Being made righteous by Christ by means of His atonement, the righteous man is justified before God the Father and he has every opportunity to walk in true, perfect righteousness. The one who receives him receives Christ's gospel and they rejoice in fellowship with one another as those who have received Christ's very righteousness by grace alone. They share in this gift and find freedom from the world and the flesh and unity to one another where there was once enmity. This is the fruit of the often toiling messenger.
Whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward. We find the same clarification given by the phrase, "in the name of." So it is not just those who distribute food and water to the weak and poor who are rewarded, but those who do so in the service of Christ. Would Christ just feed the hungry or would He feed the hungry for the purpose of revealing a message concerning Himself? If His ministry was to the feed the hungry then there would never have been another hungry person ever again. The word translated "little ones" is a word that means small and it is found in several contexts. Since we do not see children in the context, and plus the added fact that the messengers are not just sent to children, we conclude that Christ is referring to the small in life or those who are weak, poor, and have no honorable name. By ministering to them the disciple is ministering to Christ Himself and brings Christ into their lives. Their poverty and weakness can now become meaningless as they become rich in Christ. He who was rich became poor so that we could become rich. And, as in the case of the prophet and the righteous man, the messenger and the small can rejoice together as children in the kingdom of God who are poor in spirit, but are rich beyond their wildest dreams, and that, eternally. EPH 3:8-10 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Therefore, we now see the life of the messenger, the plight of the messenger, and his true reward. The last thing mentioned by Christ is the thing that the disciple is to focus on the most. He is not to think about his own way, his own sufferings, nor even his own reward, but of the goal of his labor, which is the salvation of mankind and man's entrance into Christ's church so that they may share in His inheritance.
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries