Facing Persecution – Part II – Matthew 10 – By Ty Tamasaka
“21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” Matthew 10:21-25 NIV
There are times I enjoy sharing an encouraging word or story as I begin a devotion. The text in Matthew 10:21-23 however, does not afford that opportunity.
In the last devotion, we seen Jesus beginning to openly and clearly teach that His apostles would face persecution for following Him. In these verses, He shares more about facing persecution.
1 – The most bitter persecution may come from those we love most. Verse 21
Many of us can handle ill treatment and persecution from strangers or people we don’t really care for… but it hits hardest and deepest when the ill treatment and persecution comes from those we love most. Parents, siblings, children, spouse. Jesus pointed out that the message His apostles were sent to preach would bring division in households.
2 – Although the Gospel is a message of love, it will often be met with hate. Verse 22
While the Gospel is a message of God’s love, forgiveness, and restoration for His people, it will be met with hatred. One would think that a message of forgiveness and love from God would be met with open arms and open hearts. Sometimes it will. Thank God for those times. Jesus warns that there will be times when the message of the Gospel is going to be met with anger, hatred, and bitterness. People will plant their heels in and harden their hearts against their maker.
3 – Stand firm. Endure the seasons of persecution. Verse 22
Living in the United States, we face little persecution for our faith in comparison to what the early church faced. Yet, when I share the Gospel with someone and they don’t respond, or become offended, I struggle with a sense of failure. I struggle with feeling like I had been too pushy or too soft when I share… that maybe if I did something different, they would have responded better. Jesus says, in the face of persecution and rejection. “Stand firm. Don’t quit. Endure.”
4 – Don’t run toward persecution or remain in it if you don’t have too. Verse 23
This passage is comforting to me. Jesus teaches His disciples that it is wrong for them to run towards persecution – or even remain in it, if they have a chance for an honorable escape. If they could “flee to another” place, He says, do it. Don’t pursue persecution, if you don’t have to. Don’t run toward it.
In verses 24-25, Jesus says:
“24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”
The term Beelzebul literally meant “lord of the flies,” and referred to a Philistine god worshipped by some in Jesus’ day. Some of those who heard Jesus’ teachings and saw His miracles said He used the demonic powers of Beelzezbul to do what He did. Jesus was essentially telling His apostles, “If they are calling Me as your teacher, the lord of the flies, don’t expect to be treated better than Me. When I send you out they will come down on you too.”
We are to understand that as students, we are not above our teacher. The goal of the student and the goal of the servant is the same. The student is to be like his teacher. The servant is to be like his master. As the “sent ones” for Jesus, it should be enough for us to be like our Teacher. As “sent ones” for Jesus, it should be enough for us to be like our Master. Jesus faced persecution. So will we.
As the new year approaches, let’s take a moment to pray for persecuted believers.
Lord Jesus I lift up those who are persecuted for their faith in You. I pray for Your Spirit to bring comfort, strength, and encouragement to Your children who are under persecution.
Empower me to be like You. Increase my passion for people. Increase my capacity to endure being a “sent one”. Soften my heart towards Your people and harden my skin to face persecution. In the name of the One whom I serve, Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.