The person who relinquishes the right to his or her own life (10:38-39) becomes a representative of Jesus (10:40-42; compare 18:5; Mk 9:37; Lk 10:16; Jn 13:20), and one must receive a herald or ambassador in the same way one would receive the one who sent him (for the principle applied to an apostle, compare 2 Cor 5:20-6:2, 11-13; 7:2-4). Some in Jesus' day seem to have advocated receiving the sages as God's representatives, but for Jesus it was those who became like children-the epitome of dependence and powerlessness in antiquity-who were his representatives (Mt 10:42; 11:25; 18:5-6).
As people treat God's prophet, so they treat the God who sent the prophet (1 Sam 8:7). Matthew repeatedly emphasizes that disciples as Jesus' agents are his righteous ones and prophets, even greater than the prophets of old (Mt 5:11-12; 11:9; 13:17). Disciples were also little ones (10:42), the easily oppressed and powerless who could not or would not defend themselves, hence depended solely on God (18:3-6, 10; compare Mk 9:37; 10:14-15).
Receiving Jesus' representatives with a cup of cold water (Mt 10:42; Mk 9:41) probably refers to accepting into one's home missionaries who have abandoned their own homes and security to bring Christ's message (Mt 10:11; see also 25:35-40). A cup of cold water might have been all that a peasant could offer, but hospitality given in faith to a prophet who requested it would be rewarded (compare 1 Kings 17:12-16; 2 Kings 4:8-17).
The following narrative may illustrate the point twice: some would not receive a prophet who came in a prophet's name (Mt 11:7-19; compare 10:41); John the Baptist himself had to continue to receive Jesus, to embrace his identity in the midst of challenges to his faith (11:3-6).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Want to get the most out of Bible Gateway? Find out why Bible Gateway Plus is the ultimate toolkit for anyone seeking to grow closer to the Word. For less than the cost of a latte, Plus membership gives you access to a complete digital Bible study library and reduced banner ads. Try it free for 30 days!