40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”
I heard a preacher once say, “we talk about accepting Jesus as if He needs our acceptance.” I understand the concept of “receiving” Jesus in our hearts and quite honestly I haven’t been able to find a better way to explain it so I still use similar terminology about receiving Christ into your life. However, we must be careful not to think that Jesus isn’t the Christ unless we “accept Him” into our lives or receive His teachings. Just because you don’t accept or agree with or receive this blog you are reading doesn’t mean it changes who I am or what I do. Some people apologize to me for not keeping up with my bible study blogs or getting around to read my book and my response is always the same, “it makes no difference to me.” It makes no difference because I share my thoughts to help others grow in their relationship with God, not to receive credit or attention. It doesn’t matter to me whether you read this or not because your relationship with God is between you and Him, not you and me. Jesus was using this idea of recognizing the importance of whom we receive in our lives.
Aside from recognizing who gets credit in our lives for what we do, I think it is important to evaluate our perspective on whom we are following. It is sad to see that when a pastor gets caught in a controversy, the majority of the church dissolves. Why does this happen if the people are supposed to be seeking Christ? If they are following the pastor and not Jesus, then they only receive the blessing (or curse) of the pastor and not that of Jesus. Jesus blessed the disciples with His blessing so that they would carry it with them and bless others with them. They were a ragtag bunch of fellows: tax collector, fisherman, carpenters, etc. and that’s all they had to offer the world. We could say that if Peter cast his net and caught some fish and sold them in the market, those who bought his fish would receive the blessing from him. But when he prays over people and heals them from their illnesses, this is from God.
Jesus is saying that it is not bad to receive teaching and blessing from people, but that we must keep our eyes on the prize: Jesus Christ. He says that if you receive a prophet or righteous man (if you listen to what they say and even welcome them into your life), then you will receive what they have to offer. But, if people receive the Gospel, the truth of Christ, the Kingdom of God, then they will receive much more. Even by blessing others through little things like a cup of water to a child, if it is done through the Kingdom of God, then the blessings will continue to multiply. Our problem is that we rarely receive or give Christ; we receive others, repeat the teachings of others, and continue to operate on the level of this world and not God’s Kingdom. Jesus sent out His disciples (that includes us) to take His power and glory to the nations. Whether it’s the person you sit next to at school, your boss at work, or a starving child in Africa, Jesus wants us to share His life with others. Yes, we have to share our lives, but He just got done telling us that we must die to ourselves. Read and identify with John the Baptist’s final testimony before he was beheaded in John 3:
6 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” 27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 “He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 “What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 “He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. 34 “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. 35 “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. 36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John is explaining that our faith has nothing to do with whom we follow if it isn’t about Jesus. The religious elite of the time were so concerned with who was baptizing whom and what customs should be followed and John replied by explaining that it is all about Jesus. I love when he says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is the very dying to ourselves concept we read about in the previous passage! John knew what was going on because He constantly sought God and not men. He was a spiritual powerhouse that lived on his own in the woods. He didn’t receive the teaching of men, but was connected with God through the Holy Spirit just as Jesus was, schooling the scholars at the age of 12. Now we can do the same.
Our teaching and ability doesn’t come from men, it comes from God. If we rely solely upon the wisdom of others, then we will grow to be quite foolish. We must first fear God and then we will receive His wisdom that far supersedes anything any man or woman can teach you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is bad to receive teaching from others; God has gifted some for teaching and preaching to edify the body of believers, but don’t ever forget that in receiving that teaching and preaching, the focus should always be on Christ, not the one speaking.