The first time through Matthew 10, if I’m honest, seemed random, harsh and a bit abrupt. I could see Jesus building a “list” of instructions and informational points to prepare His friends for the next few years with Him, but I needed to spend some time rereading and thinking to see more of Him and His purpose for this passage.
First, God is not wordy. He is concise. He is truth and He doesn’t need to “package” His ideas to seem more palatable to us. He loves his friends enough to be honest about the truth that He knows they will face. This is hard stuff! “You will flee for your life, you will leave your families, (Anyone who loves their family more than Me is not worthy of Me.) you will be arrested, you will be flogged, people will hate you! I don’t know about you, but if I am trying to decide whether I am in or not on a life threatening opportunity, I want my decision to be based on pure, honest, truth. I want the facts, not a nicely packaged story about how my leader hopes it is all going to turn out. Jesus tells them, “When you are arrested, don’t worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, it won’t be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” As I sit with Jesus words I find this FANTASTIC and TERRIFYING at the same time. When, not if you are arrested and don’t worry when you have to testify because My words will come out of your mouth.
Second, Jesus knew the weight and the cost of His plan to His friends. He knew as He laid out the truth of the next few years for these people that their response would be fear. How could it not? So as He spoke to them He said, “Do not be afraid”. He says it more than once in this chapter because He knows they need His comfort and reassurance. Then He uses everyday items like birds and hair to show them that He knows what they are facing, He loves them deeply, personally and will continue to care for them. Again…”So don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows”.
So what seemed in the beginning to be harsh and abrupt, now looks honest, loving and truthful. When the reality of truth is hard to live with, He says, “I love you so do not be afraid”. “You are worth more than many sparrows”.