How important is it to be a welcoming church? How thankful are we for those who receive us? How do we receive Gospel preachers, each other, and newcomers?
Let’s become more welcoming.
We will look at Matthew 10:40-42 and hospitality.
2 Kings 4:8-17 The Shunammite Woman
Background to the Gospel lesson in Matthew 10:40-42 is a wonderful story of hospitality (2 Kings 4:8-17). Shunem (Sulam) still exists today near Nazareth. A wealthy woman there invited the prophet Elisha to eat with her and her husband. Her home became a regular stopping place as Elisha passed by. Her hospitality was so rare and great that she and her husband went to considerable trouble and expense building a spare room for him to rest on his journeys. Asking his assistant Gehazi what he could do to repay the woman’s kindness, he learned that she was childless. The prophet said she would bear a child. God rewards hospitality.
Matthew 10:40 Receiving the Son
Greek notes: He who receives you (ὑμᾶς, ee‑mahs - plural accusative - That means all the Apostles, not just some. By extension, does that mean all Christians, not just some?) receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent (ἀποστείλαντά, ah‑poh‑stee‑lahn‑dah = apostled) Me.
Sometimes we may be reluctant to allow others to bless us with a gift. Some people have even gotten angry when others give to them. We need to allow others the blessing of blessing us without rejecting their love. In Matthew 10:40 the disciples were taught this by Jesus, when He said, “He who receives you receives Me.” What that means is, when people receive Christians, they are in effect receiving Christ Himself. A compliment is a kind of gift. When someone pays us a compliment bragging is wrong, but so it rejecting it. Simply say, thank you. We need to learn to be thankful receivers as well as givers.
Matthew 10:40 Receiving the Father
Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Seventh Day churches, some Baptists, some Calvinists and others all claim to be the one true church. How should we treat people of other denominations? Would God call it a sin to exclude those who receive Jesus from sharing in a common communion? What would Jesus say about this? In Matthew 10:40 He said, “he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Why would we not receive anyone who receives Jesus and our heavenly Father? If we receive those who receive Jesus, we receive our Father in heaven. Can we receive each other as fellow believers of the important things and not divide over lesser issues?
Matthew 10:41 Prophets & Righteous People
Greek notes: He who receives a prophet (προφήτην, proh‑fee‑teen = a proclaimer of a divine message, one to whom God reveals His truth, and through whom He speaks. Hence, in the OT prophets their preaching was a prophesying of a salvation and purposes of grace and glory yet to be accomplished, while in the case of the NT prophets their prophesying was a preaching of those purposes of grace already accomplished, and also a foretelling of the purposes of glory which were still future.) in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous (δίκαιον, thee‑keh‑ohn = just, right) man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
In Matthew 10:41 Jesus said, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” A prophet “is someone inspired by God to foretell or tell-forth (forthtell) the Word of God.” Jesus further said, “he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” One preaches God’s word and the other acts upon God’s word. Bengel’s Gnomon  says, “A prophet is one who speaks, a righteous man one who acts, in the name of God, and is distinguished for his remarkable righteousness.” Welcome a preacher or righteous person, receive the same reward in heaven.
 Johann Albrecht Bengel. Gnomon Novi Testamenti, or Exegetical Annotations on the New Testament. 1742.
Matthew 10:42 Little Ones
Greek notes: And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup (ποτήριον, poh‑tee‑ree‑ohn = cup, a drinking vessel) of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward (μισθ|ὸν, mees‑thohn = hire, wages, pay).
In Matthew 10:42 Jesus said, “whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Who is a little one? Is it left open to interpretation? Certainly new Christians are little ones in the faith, but also humble Christians can be little ones in their own eyes. A cup of cold water might be considered the minimum hospitality. Do we welcome “little” disciples as we might define them? What about disciples who are unrighteous and have not grown? If so, Jesus promises that we will surely be rewarded.
Matthew 10:40-42 Summary
In Matthew 10:40-42 Jesus gave four points on hospitality. 1) Receive us, receive Jesus. We represent Christ wherever we go. Do we receive other believers as we would treat Christ? 2) Receive a prophet. The prophet speaks God’s word publicly. Salvation is a gift but those who have done more will be rewarded with more. 3) Receive a righteous person. In the New Testament righteousness is by faith. Do we welcome those who have faith in Christ? 4) Give little ones a friendly reception. How do we treat new converts? When others welcome us are we gracious guests? Our neighbors need the Gospel. If they welcome us, they welcome Jesus.
Let’s appreciate those who receive us. Let’s welcome Gospel preachers, the righteous among us and little ones.
Johann Albrecht Bengel. Gnomon Novi Testamenti, Exegetical Annotations on the New Testament. 1742.
Bullinger, Rev. Ethelbert W. A. Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1895. 2008 TheBible.org