"He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 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 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."
Jesus, after He finished describing the difficulties and persecutions that would await the apostles, proceeded to declare the honor of their apostleship. They were representatives of Him directly and the Father indirectly. Those who emphasize the words of Jesus and attempt to trivialize the inspired words of the apostles and prophets make a terrible mistake. Jesus authorized every inspired word--whether spoken or written. Thus, one cannot rightly accept the teachings of Christ in the gospel accounts and elevate them above the rest of the New Testament. Although no preacher or teacher is inspired today in the way the apostles were, the principle in Matthew 10:40 still holds true. When one receives the gospel of Christ delivered by a preacher or teacher, that individual receives God Himself. The opposite is also certainly true. To reject a faithful proclaimer of truth is to reject God Himself.
What did Jesus mean when He said - "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward" (Matt. 10:41)? One who welcomes and even helps a prophet shall receive the same reward the prophet himself receives for his labors. It is unlikely that the "reward" mentioned is a reference to salvation since eternal life is generally described as a "gift" in the Scriptures (cf. Rom. 6:23). Likely Jesus means that the one receiving the prophet will share in the prophet's physical reward (i.e., providential blessings, although persecution would not be excluded as part of a prophet's "reward"; cf. James 1:2-4).
Jesus then goes on to make a similar statement regarding the one who receives a "righteous man" (Matt. 10:41). In fact, one who helps another because he is a disciple, even in something as small and inexpensive as a cup of cold water, will be blessed by God for his act of Christian love. In the first century, there were few prophets. Consequently, few could serve in that capacity. However, many could give a cup of cold water to one who was thirsty. God does not expect us to do what is beyond our ability, but He does expect us to do what we can (cf. II Cor. 8:12)! Five talent servants should labor with their full five talents; one talent servants should make full use of their single talent. God knows what each one is capable of and to fail to do what we can is both lazy and wicked (Matt. 25:14ff)!
According to Mark 6:12,13, the apostles then left Jesus' presence and set out to do the work He had given them - "So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them."
Matthew 11:1 clearly shows that Jesus Himself wasn't a hypocrite. After finishing the giving of instructions, He too went out and personally implemented what He had commanded. He taught and preached "in their cities." The pronoun "their" is used in reference to the apostles. Thus, Jesus made a circuit through the cities that they had entered to evangelize.