We must be careful how we treat people and especially the people of God. Jesus shows in this section that we should consider whenever we are dealing with the people of God that we are dealing with the Father himself. He says in verse 40, “”He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” So if we receive a brother or sister in the Lord, it is as if we are receiving Christ himself, and if Christ then it is as if we are receiving and dealing with the Father directly.
All who represent Christ represent the Father for Christ himself represented the Father. Jesus said to the disciples that, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) As we are being changed into the image of the Father through Christ Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit, Jesus showed that He was already in the image of the Father. In John 10:30 Jesus also says, “I and the Father are one.” He is not saying they are the same person, but in their thinking and decision-making, in their attitudes and nature and in the way they do, judge and behave in all things they are the same. This is what it means to be in the image of one another. They are one and united in all things as if they are mirror images and reflections of each other’s nature.
Now as to the rewards in this section of scripture, we see that Jesus says that if any person receives a prophet or a righteous man or a disciple and provides for them in some way, they will receive a reward. God will reward those who provide for his people but the person receiving these followers of the Lord will also receive the rewards from the people they are assisting. What is the reward of a prophet? It is prophecy and teaching and the understanding of God’s ways. What is the reward of a righteous man? It is the understanding of righteousness and the peace that comes through the knowledge of the righteousness that comes from God.
Jesus stated that if anyone gives a disciple even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, he would not go without reward. There are two things to consider here too. Firstly, a disciple can be a person who is young in the Lord and still with much to learn. They may have only just come to the Lord and begun their walk with Christ and are not advanced in the word of God. Yet God still sees them as very important and will reward anyone who aids them or assists them. Secondly, even if the assistance is as minimal as giving them a cup of cold water, which is such a small thing to do, they will still receive their reward.
To be rewarded by the Lord does not require big things or great gestures. You do not have to go out and build churches or schools or communities. You do not have to go to the wild places of the world and set up missions. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but you do not have to do any of these things to receive the rewards of God. All you need to do is to receive God’s people and if they need only a cup of cold water, to provide it. It is the small things that God sees as well as the big things. And often it is the small things that make all the difference. A cup of cold water to an extremely thirsty man may be a small thing to the giver, but to the receiver it could be the most precious gift of all.
Jesus showed the importance of this point and the significance of assisting his people in the parable of separating the sheep from the goats. (Matthew 26:31-46) In this parable we see the Lord separating those who were his and who had assisted him in a time of need from those who did not help him when they could have. In both cases the people said, (and I paraphrase) “When did we see you in need of help and minister to your needs?” Jesus replied that whenever the person saw someone in need and either assisted or didn’t assist him or her they were doing it to Jesus. The rewards they received for assisting these people and thus Jesus were entry to God’s kingdom. But those who failed to help when needed were cast out.
Do not underestimate the good that is done and can be done in the small things you do for people. Do not think that you are not doing much in the name of the Lord or not serving him. For whenever you assist one of his people with something they cannot do themselves, you are serving not just them, but them as the representatives of Christ, and Christ as the representative of the Father. Everything you do for the Lord’s people you do for God. And you will be rewarded by God for the things you do.