Confirming the Twelve

Feb 20, 2022

Confirming the Twelve

Passage: Matthew 10:40-42

Preacher: Jeff Crotts

Series: Matthew: We Need a King

Category: Sunday Morning


Making disciples is taking the long haul.

  • By no means a brief journey.
    • Not a sprint.
    • With that, temptations for discouragement!

Jesus’ predictions (Matt 10) define the mission:

  • Grand and lofty while fraught with danger and loss.
  • Mixed with triumph and victory.

“What is gained from this?”

  • Life in your soul, embarking on the only mission guaranteed, authentic.
    • Guaranteed fruit.
    • Guaranteed abundant life.
    • Same life offered to everyone.


  • Still, temptation to ask, “Is this worth it!”
    • “Is this real?”
    • “I am suffering from buyer’s remorse.”

Answering the dilemma of ministry discouragement comes from one thing. Humility!

  • Humility of giving and receiving the message!
    • As giver, you are just the messenger.
    • As recipient, you are beholden to the message!

Jesus is solving discouragement!

Verses 40-42 are Jesus’ final words for this instruction.

“Whoever receives you receives me” (v. 40).

  • “Receiving” [dexomai], beautiful word for “faith.”
    • Used 6x in 2 verses.
      • Either middle or pass. participle.
      • Conveys openness for Christ entering someone’s life.


  • “Faith” though a mystery is being, “Open to Christ coming inside!”
    • We do not make Christ do anything.
    • He saves by opening our hearts, where say, “Come in!”
      • “I receive you” or “I welcome
      • Welcoming a guest into your home.


  • Opposite of “rejection” is “receiving.”
    • Jesus having supper with Matthew, with “tax gatherers” and “sinners.”
    • Mary the harlot at Simon the Pharisee’s house.


  • Public association with the Lord.
    • Not merely private but public decision.
    • Those who come and go in your life tell the story of who you are.
      • Everything you value.
      • Who is comfortable around you?
        • Belief-systems?
        • Who feed your soul, whom you laugh and cry with.
        • Whom willing to say or not say things to.


  • Jesus becomes this to you when you “receive”
    • Not just stopping over for a visit.
    • Taking residence inside your life.
    • The chief influence.
      • What and how you think.
      • What and how you prioritize decisions.

Your chief influence in childhood are your parents, for better or for worse. When you leave the home, get married, your new chief influence becomes your spouse.

“The two become one flesh.”

  • Ideal, in Christian marriage but also in your friendships.
    • Confidences are influential.
    • Whom you let your guard down with.
      • Who is shaping you.
      • Your worldview.
      • How you view of live your life.
        • Bible warns, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
        • Bible lauds, a “Friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
        • “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
        • Titus 2, older men investing in younger men.
        • Titus 2, older women investing in younger women.
          • Love their husbands.
          • Raise their children.
          • Be a worker at home.


  • Receiving Christ, no less than any of this and far more.
    • Christ is chief influence.
      • Knows everything about you.
      • Whom we want to know everything about us.


  • Jesus is interested in fulfilling his plan in and through your life.
    • Not the American Dream.
    • Still, Jesus’ interest in you, is no contradiction to his mission!

 Jesus describes “receiving” [Faith] him as, making exchanges.

When I was in elementary school, we regularly made exchanges. We traded for things. Innocent but shrewd bartering was going on all the time. NFL pencils were the hot market of my early years. Somthimes you trade and rethink, “What did I just do?”

Today with FB marketplace you can find yourself in similarly interesting trades.

I try to sell for cash and people offer any number of strange items they believe comparable when they really are not.

Verses are Christ’ confirmation of the believer.

  • If ever doubted, “receiving” Christ was a wrong decision, Jesus’ teaching tells you it wasn’t, revealing what you what you “received” when you “received the message!”
    • Temptation toward “Buyer’s Remorse” when the heat of persecution turns up.


Matthew 11 will illustrate this!


  • John the Baptist waivered after his grand promotions of Christ!
    • Fulfillment of Elijah.
    • Christ’s forerunner!
      • When jailed for preaching, began to doubt.
      • Christ truly Messiah?


  • All coming, next chapter (cf. Matt. 11).
    • Whole first half of chapter 11 illustrates doubt!
      • This hard mission causing a believer to doubt its validity.
      • Worse to doubt the Savior.
        • “Is he real, is any of this real?”
        • “What have I done with my life?”
        • “Was receiving Christ, right choice?”

“Why receiving Christ is the right decision!”

  • Confirmation: God’s way differs from the world’s way.


  • Instead of building your worth; building Christ’s worth.
    • Going up by going down.
    • Gaining strength by being weak.
    • Esteeming others, not you.
    • Exalted through humility.


  • Called: “Descending into greatness!”


  • Where John the Baptist was: “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).

Why you made the right decision; Confirmation descending through four levels of humility:     

Four descents into humility
1. Apostle (v. 40)

Jesus reminds Apostles, the exchange people make when coming to Christ.

  • Just challenged, family members will be threatened by message.
    • Sword enters the home.
    • Relationships severed.
      • Extreme cost.
      • Death to self, dreams, former life, and world.

“Why am I on a campaign this difficult; discouraging?”

  • “Offering this hard Gospel, offers them God.”
    • Trading your life for an Apostle’s message.
    • Trading up not down.
    • Trading yourself for grace.


  • Christ is saying “receiving an Apostle,” is “receiving them as a proxy messenger for God.”

Like links in a chain, when receive message Apostles, receive as Jesus’ proxy, and by receiving Jesus, you receive God.


No such thing as: “I believe in God but do not believe in Jesus” (as God).

  • Verse 40 validates, Jesus is God.

ESV  John 8:19 They said to him therefore, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, a"You know neither me nor my Father. bIf you knew me, you would know my Father also." 

ESV  John 14:9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? aWhoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?


  • Verse 40, a statement on Trinity.
    • In terms of subordination.
      • Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
        • 3 persons of godhead, working in unity and harmony.
        • Equal in essence and differing in personality and roles.
          • The Spirit opens heart to see message is true.
          • Jesus as God and intercessor, reveals God to the person’s soul.


  •  When the Apostles are drowning in discouragement, questioning a message that causes so much trouble for those who accept it. They need to re-commit to why?
    • Answer is clear.
      • Apostles vested with same authority as Christ.
        • Their message carries same authority.
        • Authority that cuts to the issue of SIN!

We need same Confirmation!

  • As believers, Christ comes inside of your life, making you, his ambassador.

ESV  2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, awe are ambassadors for Christ, bGod making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2Co 5:20 ESV)

  • This logic for Jew’s mindset.
    • Customary to receive messengers as if receiving the person himself.
      • Ambassador is same as receiving the king.
      • “Blessed Union between Servant and King” [Spurgeon].

Proxy union does not automatize someone receiving the Gospel.

  • In fact, most will not believe.

ESV  Mark 12:1-10 abAnd he began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted ba vineyard cand put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and dleased it to tenants and ewent into another country.2 When the season came, he sent a servant1 to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard.3 aAnd they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.4 aAgain bhe sent to them another servant, and cthey struck him on the head and dtreated him shamefully.5 aAnd he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.6 He had still one other, aa beloved son. bFinally he sent him to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'7 But those tenants said to one another, a'This is the heir. Come, blet us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'8 And they took him and killed him and athrew him out of the vineyard.9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? aHe will bcome and destroy the tenants and cgive the vineyard to others.10 aHave you not read bthis Scripture: c"'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;1

Returning to the scene in John 8, Jesus said,

ESV  John 8:47 aWhoever is of God hears the words of God. bThe reason why you do not hear them is that cyou are not of God." 

Being Christ’s ambassador should never build up the messenger.

  • Message at center stage.
    • Someone speaks for God when they speak the message.
      • Another message means, not represent Christ.
      • Not his ambassador.


  • Alignment with Scripture is everything!

Receiving God is receiving Scripture.

  • Receiving God in your life solves what is hardest for a person’s life.
    • The problem is never the message, and the problem is not the messengers, and the problem is not Jesus, and the problem is not God the Father. No, no, no.
      • The problem is always sin.
      • Sin separates and the saving message reconciles.
        • Jesus as Savior is the only way to deal with this problem.
        • Jesus washes away sin.
          • Arrests the issue, withdraws sin’s sting.
          • Answers sin’s greatest weapon; death!
          • Sin kills. Jesus saves.


  • Sin promises life but brings death.
    • Sin is the ultimate trade down not up.
      • A bait and switch.
      • Sin discourages and promotes the lie of fake peace.


  • Sin must be removed, or it will lead someone to a self-destructive life.
    • The only way to truly ensure peace is by giving the Gospel of saving grace.
    • Receiving this message is receiving God’s grace.

Even with a message this life-changing, people will reject it.

  • “But they were Apostles!”
  • “We are Ambassadors!”
  • Key, not focusing on the title but Mission and Message!


You and I are simply Mailmen! Delivering the Mail in Alaska. In the Snow, with Dogs barking after us! We are not dignitaries like “Ambassador” might convey. No. Just Mailmen, carrying the mail! People appreciate Mail carriers. But people really want the Amazon Package!

We are links in a chain:

Receiving you, receives Christ.

Messenger is real and the message is real.

The message is saving because Jesus is real.

 2. Prophet (v. 41a)

Verse 41 uses 2 aphorisms (sayings).

  • Common in Jewish thought.
    • Representing chain links.
    • Falling in descending order.


A drill in lap swimming, called a “descend.” To “descend” is pacing faster and faster after swimming each pool length. Jesus saying, “Descend faster and faster as we move in mission.”


To the prophet. “What did it mean to receive a prophet?” and “What does it mean to receive a prophet’s reward?”

Neither are glamorous things I do not think.


“What is Receiving a Prophet?”

Two OT examples of receiving a Prophet; receiving a Prophet’s reward.

  • 1 Kings 17:9-24; 2 Kings 4:8-37.


Matthew spoke of mistreating the Prophets.

ESV  Matthew 5:12 aRejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for bso they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  • There were fake NT Prophets – Matthew 7.

ESV  Matthew 7:22 aOn that day bmany will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not cprophesy in your name, and cast out demons din your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 

  • There were true NT Prophets – 1 Thess. 2.

ESV  1 Thessalonians 2:13 And awe also thank God constantly1 for this, that when you received bthe word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it cnot as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, dwhich is at work in you believers.  


Jesus uses “receive” but perhaps more negatively than positively.

“Receiving a prophet” (v. 41) could be taken negatively.

  • Apostles coming; venerated as prophets; missing message.
    • Receiving Apostle as a famous prophet of old.
      • Worshipped for the works of God performed by them.
      • Flatterers, to spiritual leaders, while missing the message.

ESV  Acts 14:11-15 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, a"The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"12 Barnabas they called aZeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.

13 And the priest of aZeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and bwanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they atore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,15 "Men, awhy are you doing these things? We also are men, bof like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that cyou should turn from these dvain things to ea living God, fwho made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 


Hero worship has gone badly in today’s church! Issue is misplaced trust in the messenger over the message. Over God. Self-made evangelical leaders, hungry for influence default in ministry leaving a void of disappointment.

  • Culture lacks leadership.
    • Leadership anchors people in the leader.
    • Spiritual leadership diverts co-dependency toward Christ!


  • Following a leader will inevitably disappoint.
    • Blame has placed on leader not masses.
    • Followers cast as disillusioned believers/victims.
    • Unbelief, based on the moral failure of a spiritual leader.


  • Though the responsibility of a leader/teacher is high (cf. Jas. 3:1).
    • Jesus indicts the ones being evangelized.

If you trust in the Prophet, then this is as far as this will go.

  • Trusting man, no matter how empowered, will leave someone empty.


  • Jesus is staving off buyer’s remorse when Christ’s message is rejected.
    • Unbelief in the form of flattery.
    • Ignoring real need for sin to be solved.
    • Welcoming a hero instead of saving grace.


Jesus confirms the Apostles in their mission fueling trust in the Message not Messenger!


  • Coming as God’s messenger is taking the humble path, fueling expectations as eternal “rewards.”
    • For Prophet.
    • For Convert.


  • The reward is “eternal life.”
 3. Righteous Person (v. 41b)

Opposite of flattering or playing the sycophant, leaving you empty, is “receiving a righteous person.”

  • “Receiving a righteous person” is dealing on the heart level.
    • Apostles coming as “righteous person[s]” (v. 41).
    • Like “Righteous” OT saints.


  • Receiving a “righteous person” is “receiving” their righteous Gospel.
    • Acknowledging the need to be made righteous.
      • Important not on the outside but inside.
        • Love forged by being won by a “righteous one.”
          • Deep and lasting relationship.
          • Sin forever settled through this relationship.


  • Focus not on self-righteousness and onto Christ’s righteousness.


  • Humble Evangelist.


  • Receiving a righteous person gives the greatest “reward” (v. 41).

Easy to forget the magnitude of the gift given to us.

  • Salvation is the crown of life.
    • Serving the Lord because we have heaven as our reward.
      • Otherwise left empty.
        • Exchange flattery for “faith.”
          • From external to internal.
          • From self-righteousness to Christ righteousness.


  • All believers have the righteousness of Christ.
    • When God sees you, he sees you through Christ.
    • Christ has robed you with his perfect life and sacrificial death.
    • Union with Christ’s death and union with Christ’s resurrected life.


  • Though all accolades are lost; you will never lose your righteousness.


Whenever I go on a flight, I make the effort to have my ticket in hand, iPhone.

I want proof to account for where I am supposed to be. Avoids awkward moment when you are sure you are in the right seat and are not. Someone hovering over, brings your judgment into question. Both party’s look to their proof of what they both believe to be their standing (or “seating!”).


  • Looking to God’s Word, confirms your standing!
    • Where your reserved seat is;
    • In terms of being right with God.

Romans 5 is your PROOF.


ESV  Romans 5:1-2 aTherefore, since we have been justified by faith, bwe1 have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Through him we have also aobtained access by faith1 into this grace bin which we stand, and cwe2 rejoice3 in hope of the glory of God.


I want to flip the script for a moment, to highlight the other side of evangelism!

  • Receiving a righteous person is humbling.
    • A godly lifestyle is often intimidating to be around.
    • Righteousness exposing shortcomings.

This is “Blessed Digression,” decreasing in humility, but there is one final level. 

 4. Little Ones (v. 42)

Final confirmation comes through the small gesture of giving out “a cup of cold water” (v. 42).

Scenario where Apostle comes to evangelize and instead of being met with rejection, they believe message and bless the messenger.

  • “What does affirmation look like?” Serving the evangelist, “a cup of cold water” (v. 42).


  • Cold water might not seem like much but in a missionary’s context, in a desert climate, cold water is blessing.
    • This gesture: hydrating someone parched is more feeding someone what they need to survive.
      • A marathoner, completely drained of fluid.
      • What they need to continue is water.
        • Without it, the athlete shuts down.
        • Without water a person’s health will waver.

Spurgeon: There is a “sea of warm love in a cup of cold water.”

 Apostles called “little ones” emphasizing how insignificant the messenger is in view of the mission and message.

  • The title Apostle really means nothing in terms of someone’s heart attitude.
    • Titles should never go to someone’s head.
    • Used as a first line of leadership.
      • Rank is always used as a last resort.
      • “The lowest form of your leadership influence is your title.”


  • Do not underestimate this title, “Little Ones.”
    • This title is significant to the Lord.’
      • Conveys how he feels toward his children.
      • Who have taken up his mission.

ESV  Matthew 18:1-6 aAt that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you aturn and bbecome like children, you cwill never enter the kingdom of heaven.4 aWhoever humbles himself like this child is the zgreatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 a"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,6 but awhoever causes one of these blittle ones who believe in me to sin,1 it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

ESV  Matthew 18:10 "See that you do not despise aone of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven btheir angels always csee the face of my Father who is in heaven.1

ESV  Matthew 25:45 Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, ayou did not do it to me.'

Give out the Word of God; see conversions and salvations.

  • New life comes in the heart of hearer.
    • The response is as simple as offering this missionary, water.
    • So, he can keep on keeping on.
    • Affirms message, messenger, and mission!


  • This gesture of faith is enough to confirm the convert that his reward is secure.
    • While also confirming the messenger.
      • The messenger is simply the messenger.
      • A “little one” completely reliant upon his Father’s PROVISION!

ESV  3 John 1:5-8 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for athese brothers, bstrangers as they are,6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner aworthy of God.7 For they have gone out for the sake of athe name, baccepting nothing from the Gentiles.8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

  • Our Lord’s shaping tool to squelch buyer’s remorse is using circumstances to humble his servants.
    • Temptations to believe we deserve better treatment or affirmation.
    • When what we need is a reminder - we are “little ones,”
      • Not the point of the mission at all.
      • Gone are ministries built on Co-dependent sheep.


  • We do not need these accolades.
  • God’s provision is measured as a “cup of cold water” (v. 42).


Something to drink to make it through the day.

  • Water is enough.
    • Money, gifts, and awards are never the goal.
      • Misplaced goals, lead to discouragement in hard ministry.
      • Where the goal is humility.


  • To decrease that Christ may increase.


Do not miss the significance of the someone using the gift of hospitality.

  • Something tucked inside this passage, beautiful/simple.
    • Each gift is important, one gift, not above another.
    • Some of you have the gift of hospitality, a serving gift.

ESV  1 Peter 4:10-11 aAs each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, bas good stewards of God's varied grace:

11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks aoracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves bby the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything cGod may be glorified through Jesus Christ. dTo him belong glory and edominion forever and ever. Amen. 


“We cannot all be prophets and preach and proclaim the word…but he gives God’s messenger the simple gift of hospitality and he will receive no less reward than a prophet.” [Barclay]

  • Demands of leadership and influence are always underwritten by others never in the public eye.
    • Who do not desire it!
    • We are entirely dependent upon those who remain unknown.
      • Getting someone breakfast, cooking meals, washing clothes, shopping for home necessitates, caring for children, should never be thought of as insignificant!


  • The menial task.

There was a young boy in an Old English, country village, who after a great struggle, reached the ministry. He had someone help him reach his goals who was the village cobbler. The cobbler, like so many of his trade, was a man of wide reading and thinking, and he had done much to for the young boy. In time the boy became a young man licensed to preach. On that day the cobbler said to him, “It was always my desire to be a minister of the gospel, but the circumstances of my life made it impossible. But you are achieving what was closed to me and I want you to promise me one thing. I want you to let me make and cobble your shoes-for nothing-and I want you to wear them in the pulpit when you preach, and then I’ll fell them in the pulpit when you preach, and then I’ll fell you preaching the gospel that I always wanted to preach standing in my shoes.” [Barclay]


Serving in obscurity. “…he will be no means lose his reward” (v. 42).

  • This one is secure.
    • Not by actions, by being remade, reborn, with a new disposition.
    • This is the gift of eternal life.


  • Salvation that is eternal, promised and cannot be taken away (v. 42).


John Calvin, banished from Geneva by citizens who resented the full truth of God’s Word.

Calvin’s Response:

“Most assuredly, if I had merely served man, this would have been a poor recompense. But it is my happiness that I have served Him who never fails to reward His servants to the full extent of His promise.”


“Descending to Greatness”: Apostle, Prophet, Righteous Person, Little One.

Confirmed through Humility.  


Next time (Matt. 11) – How John the Baptist fought through discouragement and found Confirmation while in Prison!

ESV  Matthew 11:11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Mat 11:11 ESV)

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