Session #078 Last Word First Place
Scripture Matthew 10:32-39
Summary Matthew 10:32-39 contains many contrasts. Jesus employs this literary device to its fullest to make a very clear and strong point. In this teaching, Henson uses the seven contrasts to establish that there is no question that Jesus will have the last word. The question is, does He take first place presently? How we represent Jesus before men today will determine how He presents us to the Father finally.
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:32–39
There is no question that Jesus will have the last word. The question is, does He take first place presently? How we represent Jesus before men today will determine how He presents us to the Father finally.
Contrast #1: Confess and Deny (Matthew 10:32)
Confess in Greek is homologeo made of two parts, homo meaning together/with; and lego, to say. in English, “con” is together or with; and “fess” is to say, to speak, to agree, to consent, to admit, to acknowledge.
To confess publicly is to acknowledge openly. One cannot just have a private faith but make a public declaration. It does mean that you represent Jesus through your words, decision, and actions in every situation.
Confessing Jesus is agreeing with who He is, what He says, and what He stands for.
Alignment with the king and His kingdom means obedience. We confess not just with those who agree with you, but also before those who may oppose you.
Deny in Greek is arneomai which is to reject, to refuse, not to know/recognize someone. Denying Jesus by giving up instead of enduring (2 Timothy 2:12).
Denying the Person of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, who is equal with God is called a liar and one who does not know God as written in 1 John 2:22. There are certain cults (and religions) who acknowledge Jesus, but not as the Son of God or equal to God.
Anti is against or instead of (cf 2 Corinthians 11:4). Today, Jesus is being redefined too.
Denying Jesus through destructive heresies and false teachings is warned in 2 Peter 2:1 and
Jude 4. To deny or reject or twist the teachings of Jesus is to deny Him. Are people trying to rebrand Christianity to be more acceptable and attractive? Trying to get the world to love us when Jesus already warned that the world will hate us.
In summary, to confess Jesus is not just to believe in Him but also to agree with Him, to acknowledge His word and ways of the kingdom. Alignment is Obedience. To deny Jesus does not only refer to apostasy (to give up the faith) but also the rejection and refusal of His teaching and ways especially in the face of challenges and threats.
Contrast #2: Before Men Vs Before God
How we represent Jesus before men will determine how Jesus presents us before God.
How we appear before men pales in comparison to how we are presented before God. Once again, the emphasis is Do not fear men. Fear God.
Contrast #3: On Earth Vs In Heaven
What we say and how we live on earth have heavenly implications. Do not focus on earthly survival, but on eternal significance.
Contrast #4: Your Father Vs My Father
Jesus provides the assurance of the guidance and knowledge of our Heavenly Father for all of His children in using “your Father” in Matthew 10, 10:20 “the Spirit of your Father” and 10:29 “your Father’s will”.
This is contrasted with the two mentions of “My Father” in the first 10 chapters of Matthew. Both mentions, in Matthew 7:21 “he who does the will of My Father” and Matthew 10:32-33: “before My Father” have to do with the final judgment.
All are children of God, but Jesus has a special place as the Son of God. God the Father watches over all His children. He hears and answers us, not for our wants and comforts, but that we can love and serve Jesus wholeheartedly. Only the word of Jesus will matter on that final day as who is finally accepted and rejected. God the Father will listen to God the Son. Jesus has the final say and the last word.
Contrast #5: Our Word Vs Jesus’ Word
How we live for Jesus in confessing or denying will determine what He says about us. He is the Judge and His verdict will stand (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
We do not have the final say and we are not to judge one another now (1 Corinthians 4:5).
One day, everything will be revealed. Jesus will have the last word and the final say. However, we must judge and evaluate one another now so that we can provoke one another to live for Jesus, in accordance with His ways, to be “found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2), that we may be ready to stand before Him.
What He says to His Father about us will stand, Jesus has the final say and the last word.
To the Jews, this is a huge claim as to them, God has the last word. If Jesus claims that He has the last word, then He is God.
Contrast #6: Peace Vs Sword (Matthew 10:34)
In Luke 2:14 (ESV), “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”; and
Luke 2:14 (RSV) — 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
Shalom in Christ is wholeness and restoration in and through Christ. Through Christ, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Once we were enemies of God. Now, at peace with God. In Christ, there is one new Man, peace between Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14-18).
In Christ, we have peace in the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:3). This promise of shalom is available only to those who are in Christ, “with whom He is pleased”. Beyond imputed righteousness; but also active faith expressed through obedience. Even though the greatest uncertainties and the toughest of times, even persecution and death (Philippians 4:4-7). Finally, the God of peace will crush Satan under our feet shortly (Romans 16:20).
In the meantime, in the eyes of opponents, our faithfulness to Jesus Christ will not result in peace, but a sword.
Jesus is the sword that cuts, divides, kills relationships (Matthew 10:35). Jesus uses family members to illustrate the closest of relationships and extends to friends and others. “The sword is the effect of His coming, not the purpose of His coming.” F.F. Bruce
Jesus uses Old Testament reference, Micah 7:6 where Micah prophesied about the divisions that would come between those who follow God and those who do not. Jesus applies that word of prophecy to His own coming and says that He will become a dividing line even among families.
How will we choose?
Jesus Must Take the First Place (Matthew 10:37-38, Luke 14:26)
Total devotion to the Master is not unexpected in a rabbi-disciple relationship. A rabbi is regarded as more important than one’s own parents. It has been said that if a disciple sees his rabbi and father in trouble, he is expected to save his rabbi first.
Allegiance to the King does not mean negligence of marriage and family. Honour your father and your mother. Husbands, love your wives; Wives, love, and obey husbands. Children, obey their parents; Fathers, do not provoke them to anger. Provide for household, if not, “he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8. Fulfil marriage and family responsibilities but Jesus takes first place.
The principle is very clear, Jesus Takes First Place. If we fight against one another, or against the one who lives for Jesus, there will be tension in the marriage or family (sword). If we all align with Jesus, and with one another, there will be peace. With all submitting to Jesus and kingdom agenda, serving the same kingdom cause, there will be sacrifice and mutual submission to one another.
Jesus takes first place over every relationship. Even Paul said that if an unbeliever chooses to leave the marriage, so be it. The believer must keep on following Jesus.
Jesus takes first place in our lives. Take up his cross is consistent with persecution warnings. In other words, they (even family) may crucify or kill you.
No matter what, you keep following and confessing Jesus. If not, we are “not worthy of Me” (repeated three times). Worthy is deserving and requires confessing the name before God. Unworthy is undeserving when we are denied before God.
Contrast #7: Find Vs Lose (Matthew 10:39)
He who finds his (physical) life … and he who loses his (physical) life …
What is the ‘it’?
10:39 parallels the first statements about confessing and denying in 10:32-33. If Jesus confesses before His Father which is acceptance and that leads to eternal life; and if Jesus denies before His Father which is rejection leads to eternal death, then we can interpret it as, He who finds his (physical) life will lose (eternal life), and he who loses his (physical) life for My sake will find (eternal life).
Consider the words of Jesus to the church in Sardis Revelation 3:2-6, externally, the church looks alive and growing but Jesus sees all things and knows that they are dead. He cautions the church to “wake up” and be vigilant. Strengthening what remains for not is all lost. Jesus calls them to remember the gospel that they have received, to obey Jesus’ teachings, and repent of their ways.
Is this not an extension of the principle? Finding your own life in personal pursuits and agenda over Jesus’ agenda will risk eternal life. Jesus has the last word and the final say.
The question should be, does Jesus have first place?
Black & White? What about Grace?
Peter who denied Jesus three times was restored and lived all out for Jesus and died for Jesus, would he have received eternal life?
Hebrews is a letter of faith, hope, and endurance in the face of persecution. It contains warnings and cautions against presuming upon the grace of God.
Hebrews 10:26-31 writes that if a person willfully goes on rejecting Christ the only prospect is nothing left but “a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (26-27). It is an eternal judgment that awaits those who reject Christ.
Hebrews 12:12-17 encourages us to endure and that the suffering is not meaningless but for our good. Perseverance is a mark of every disciple.
In the end, Jesus has the last word.
It is a passage of contrasts so that we will take Jesus seriously. There is no question that Jesus will have the Last Word. The question is, is Jesus taking the First Place?