The Judgment and Utopia–Part IV


We have been looking at Matthew 10, where Jesus sends out the Twelve on a mission to Israel in light of the coming of the Son of Man.  The end of the world is the time of the judgment of God. At the beginning of the chapter Jesus instructs the disciples to enter the houses of the worthy and leave their peace with the residents.  This peace is nothing less than salvation.  Worthiness pertains to the willingness of the occupants of village or household to receive and listen to their apostolic visitors.  Later in this chapter, we are told that the worthy are those who do not love the family more than Jesus.  They who do not take up their cross are not worthy of the Son. Jesus says that the one who receives the disciple, receives Christ. In response to those who are not worthy, the disciples are to shake the dust from their feet.  He follows this instruction with words of judgment: “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (Matthew 10: 15 ESV)  Considering what happened to the two cities of the valley, the judgment is exceedingly strong.

Jesus describes persecution of believers by family and government.  Within the household, division will occur that will involve family members delivering other family members who are believers to death, presumably to government officials.  In this context of conflict Jesus gives encouragement and advice.  He reminds the disciples that they will be instruments of the Spirit so that they need not worry about what they will say or how they say it.  Though they will be hated for Jesus’ name sake, God will reward those who endure until the end.  Christ’s servants should not be surprised that they will be maligned; for, the master, Jesus Himself, is called Beelzebul (the devil).

Through all, the disciples are to declare boldly their message.  He tells them not to fear those who kill the body but fear him who can kill body and soul in hell (the devil).  The Father values his people.  He who acknowledges Christ will be acknowledge before the Father.  Those who give a disciple (called a little one) a cup of water, because he is a disciple, will receive his reward.  The text is full of the idea of the judgment at the end of time, when the Son of Man returns, and of the salvation of the disciple.

Jesus is anything but utopian.  Utopias are human made societies that involve no judgment of sin and do very well without God.  They have never and will never exist.  Utopias quickly become dystopias–nightmarish societies perverted by human sin perpetrated by both the leaders and all the citizens.   Only perfect people can establish a perfect society.  Jesus does not promise utopia, but persecution of the disciples and then judgment with the faithful being rewarded with the kingdom of heaven.

What can we glean from this text?  Well, many things.  Among them are:

  1.  God gives us the power and strength to witness to Christ in the most adverse of circumstances.
  2.  The Holy Spirit will give us what is necessary to say and how to say it in our apologetical task before hostile government officials.
  3.  We are not to fear the adversary who may kill the body.  We must fear the one who can kill the soul with the body, namely the devil.
  4.  In any adversity in our mission we must remember that God cares for us.
  5. The Lord must be first in all things.
  6.  “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10: 39 ESV)
  7.  Discipleship is a most challenging call; but, it ends with Christ’s victory and our salvation.


Michael G. Tavella

SS. Timothy, Titus, and Silas

January 26, 2024



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