These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Matthew 10:34-42 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Teaching Points

I. The Cost of Discipleship (34-42)

Discussion Questions

Why did Jesus say He came to bring a sword and not peace? What does He want us to be ready for?
Why should you love God more than your own family?
In what kind of cases would you have to make a choice between the two? Can you share any examples of when you have had to choose between obeying God or family?
What does it mean to take up your cross?
Define “find your life.” Define “loses their life.”
How can you apply verses 40-42? How should we treat other believers?

Cross-references

John 8:31-32 – If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples.

John 13:34-35 – By this all will know you are my disciples if you love one another.

Luke 14:26-33 – Verses on discipleship.

Galatians 5:24 – Those who belong to Christ crucify the flesh.

Mark 8:34 – Let him deny himself and follow me.

Some of the below points can be found in my study of Mark at: https://www.studyandobey.com/inductive-bible-study/mark-series/mark8-34-9-9.html

Teaching Points

  1. Verses 34-37 – See Luke 2:14. When we compare with Luke 2:14 we can see two sides of the coin. The peace will come to the whole earth eventually when Jesus reigns as King. Until then, the peace is only the hearts of His believers. While they have His peace in their hearts, their lives may be full of afflictions and persecutions. Their families may be torn in two. While this is happening to the families of believers all over the world, it is especially evident in the Muslim world where believers are sometimes killed by their family member in so-called “honor killings.” Jesus knew that believers would be rejected and persecuted by their own family members. And nonetheless He wants them to stand firm because an absence of conflict or a smooth life is the not the most important thing. Salvation is. In verse 37 we see that a believer must love God more than everything else. Here we see clearly the cost of discipleship. It is not all fun and games. It is not health and wealth. It may be very difficult. You may face serious persecution even from your own family members. Will you choose to love God first? Are you willing to face the cost no matter how severe?
  2. Verse 38 -Take his cross – What does this mean? In that culture, a cross was not yet a symbol of grace or salvation or forgiveness. It was a symbol of death. The Romans performed many crucifixions so the Jews listening to Jesus would have been very familiar with it and probably have personally seen many people hanging on the cross. What they didn’t know was that following Christ meant that they would face a very real danger of persecution, some to the point of death. What Jesus is saying is that “To follow Me, You have to be prepared even to die.” You have to be prepared to give up everything you have, even your life. We know that all of the disciples except for John did indeed give their lives for Jesus. Many other Christians in the early church did as well. This is something that the crowds wouldn’t have expected. Wouldn’t the Messiah save them from the Romans? Wouldn’t He make them rich and prosperous? Wouldn’t He set up His own kingdom? Why would following Jesus bring death? And if it did, what is the point? Recently I overheard a young lady at a seeker study ask why she should believe in Jesus if it meant that she would face persecution. How would you answer this question? The night before I heard a guy ask if he believed in Jesus would Jesus help him immigrate to New Zealand. How would you answer this question? This is the expectation that many people have when they are considering whether to believe in God or not. They don’t care so much about if it is true or not (the guy asking about New Zealand even said he didn’t care if it was true or not as long as he could successfully immigrate.) They care what they can get out of it. What can they get from believing in Christ? Jesus emphatically answers these questions, “If you believe in Me, it may cost you your life.” Wow! That doesn’t sound very attractive. But in the next verse, there is more.
  3. Verse 38b -Follow after me – He must deny himself…and follow Me – This is a key part of being a disciple. It requires sacrifice. It requires submitting ourselves, our goals, our desires, and our plans to Christ. It requires making Christ the Lord of our life. While salvation is free because we cannot earn it, there is a very real cost to following Christ. There will be some things that we want to do, which Christ will say “No, you cannot.” A true disciple doesn’t merely follow Christ when he feels like it or when he wants the same thing that Christ does. For example confessing our sins to God is something we should do, but we also want to receive forgiveness. At times it may be more difficult to forgive others. When Jesus tells us to forgive that person who has hurt us so deeply our flesh might say, “I don’t want to.” And that is when we have a decision to make. Do we want to follow Christ. If the answer is “yes” then there is only one real alternative and that is obedience. Denying ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean giving up all things that we like and becoming a monk. It doesn’t mean we inflict pain or discomfort on ourselves for no reason. It doesn’t mean I can’t eat the cake because it is too enjoyable and God doesn’t want me to have anything nice. What it does mean is subjecting my desires to His. If God asks me to move to a rural area (like the Henry’s), I have to be willing to say “yes.” If I am overweight and I know God wants me to honor Him with my body then I may need to say “no” to the cake. Everyday there are many opportunities to apply this. What choices did you face today where there was a cost to following Christ? Some daily choices include giving up our time to pray and read the Word, giving up our “rights” by showing patience or compassion to those who don’t deserve it, giving up ourselves to serve others and love the unlovable. Jesus’ disciples were not perfect. They had many weaknesses and flaws. But did they deny themselves in order to follow Christ. Absolutely.
  4. Verse 39a (see Mark 8:35)–  This verse reminds me of many famous, evil rulers in history (Herod the Great, Hitler, etc.) They spent their entire lives killing and scheming to further their own ambitions. For a time they gained power and wealth, but it cost them their soul. This verse doesn’t only apply to the most evil rulers we can think of. It applies to everyone, even the poorest farmer in rural China. Unfortunately a love of money and materials has corrupted many people. I have recently talked with a lady who openly admitted that she sold fake eggs to people. She herself said she would not eat them. The people that bought them from her did not do it. Why did she do it? Money. Perhaps 100 yuan, perhaps 1000 yuan. She also said that she purposely added a little bit of water into bottles when taking them to the recycling place because she could make a little bit more money on them. The last time she went there, she sold bottles for 57 yuan. So her integrity probably netted her 3-5 yuan. In that verse you can substitute anything for the “whole world.” The point is that if the whole world is not enough to give up our soul, our relationship with Christ (and it is not, Christ Himself denied Satan’s offer of the world when He was tempted to worship Satan), then anything less than the whole world is certainly not enough either.
  5. Verse 39b – This verse shows that there is a certain irony in following Christ. You have to give up something in order to get it. I think it is helpful to understand a verse by giving an example from our everyday life. As you know, I have two sons. Although I teach them to share, they don’t always do it. From time to time I can hear one of them shouting, “It’s mine!!!” When I hurry into the room I may see JoJo running away from Caleb with his hands clenched around a toy. He desperately wants to keep this toy for his own and is not willing to share. What do you think I will do in this situation? I will tell JoJo to give it to me. As I take the toy I explain that neither of them can have it because they are both being selfish. This is what this verse is talking about. Many people go through their life saying, “I will not deny myself. It is my life, my money, my house, my career, and my time. I will use them how I want to because I earned them.” Jesus says that this person loses his life. His soul has been forfeited, sold because he lives his life for himself rather than for the God he was created to serve. The harsh reality is that his money cannot be taken with him, his house will collapse and rot one day, and he will have all the time in the world for eternity in judgment remembering how he wasted his time on his own desires. But there is another choice. Going back to my example, sometimes Caleb and JoJo play nicely together. I have seen them happily sharing and rolling a car back and forth. It looks like when they roll the car away, it is gone and they lost their chance to play with it. And then it is rolled back. Because they “give up” this car they can keep playing with it. If we deny ourselves (Romans 12:1-2), that is the evidence that our relationship with God is real. Not only do we have eternal life, but this life on earth can be filled with joy just as the classic verse, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
  6. Verses 40-42 – We will face persecutions by unbelievers. But how should believers treat each other? What should we expect from other members of God’s family? We are to receive each other. We are to serve each other. We are to share with each other. Our own families may not treat us like family members, but we have another family in Christ. And we should treat brothers and sisters in the Lord like valued family members. Jesus promises that there is a reward for showing kindness to His prophets, the righteous, and His disciples. Last week we discussed how important it is for people in the church to show kindness to those who are being persecuted for their faith. Do you know anyone who is facing persecution for their faith? How can you reach out to them with kindness?
Study Matthew 11:1-19

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