The Master set aside His ominous warnings about the future and turned His attention back to the immediate mission at hand. Matthew 10:40 resumes exactly where Matthew 10:15 left off: He had just said that whoever does not receive His disciples will suffer a fate worse than Sodom. Returning to that subject, He continued by speaking about the reward due to those who do receive the disciples. Note the continuity:
- Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words … (Mathew 10:14)
- [But] He who receives you receives Me … (Matthew 10:40)
The Master regarded a person who hosted His disciples and heeded their words as if he or she had hosted Him and listened directly to His teaching. The apostles officially represented Him, and receiving an apostle is the same as receiving the one who sent him. In a similar way, the Father sent Yeshua as His apostle. This explains why the Master said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (John 13:20).
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. 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. (Matthew 10:41-42)
In other words, “He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” Likewise, he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man receives the reward of a righteous man. That is not to say that hosting a prophet or righteous man will earn a person the reward due to the prophet or the righteous man in the Messianic Era or the World to Come. Rather, the act of hospitality will earn the gratitude of the prophet or righteous man, and he will bestow a reward.
With these words, the Master alluded to the story of Elisha the prophet and the Shunnamite woman. Second Kings 4 tells the story of a childless woman from Shunem who hosted the prophet Elisha in her home. In reward for hosting her, Elisha bestowed a blessing upon her, granting her a son.
The reward for hosting one of the Master’s disciples extends even to the simple act of giving a cup of water to one of the least of His disciples. The Master told his disciples, “Whoever in the name of a disciple [i.e., because he is 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” (Matthew 10:42). “Little ones” does not refer to children, it refers to young, inexperienced, novice disciples.
Today the apostles are not with us, but we can still receive and host disciples of the Master who labor and minister for the kingdom. In addition, we receive the words of the apostles when we study their writings, and when we receive their teachings, we receive the teachings of the Master: “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).