Are You Sure You Want to do This?

Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus is about to send His disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom and He has given them unprecedented authority. Yet He has insisted that they take nothing along to help them, no money, no food or supplies, and He told them they are to be depending on the generosity of strangers for their sustenance. That may sound a little rough to us, but now He tells them the hardships they are likely to encounter, and in doing so, He speaks of an age to come an age of battles and violence… the age we live in. As he tells the disciples of the hardships they will face, He might even remind of us of our recent study of Revelation.

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (10:16)

The disciples will encounter more than just those who reject their message, for they will also encounter violent opponents. Jesus likens the situation to sheep among wolves, for they will be without defenses. How should they respond to such dire circumstances? They must be a shrewd as snakes. This is an allusion to Genesis 3:1: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” In crisis, the disciple must be clear-headed and carefully think through his actions; not rash or impulsive. They must also be as “innocent as doves”, meaning that they must be entirely pure in motivation, seeking only to do what is right. As Jesus would later demonstrate, this purity would often silence His opponents.

Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. (10:17-18)

These things did indeed take place later as Jesus predicted here. Notice that not only will the disciples be badly treated, but their treatment will bring them opportunity to proclaim the Kingdom to the Gentile authorities, and as we know, this is what they would one day do.

But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (10:19-20)

Along with this dire message is a message of hope and God’s provision, for God will speak His message in and through you, and thus you will know who is ultimately in control of events, even in the middle of spiritual warfare with a powerful foe. The disciples, soldiers in the front lines of spiritual warfare are assured of their ultimate victory by this; their futures are very bright indeed, even though this world may view them as weak.

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (10:21-23)

Persecution is even more ominous in these verses as families are torn apart by the combination of the Kingdom message and the violent reaction of this world, as the spiritual warfare of the heavens is manifested on earth. Yes, this is what will happen in our age; it is what began in Acts. Honestly, this is a message we need to understand today, for it is unfolding all around us in this world of ours; it is as fresh as the morning news, sad to say. Yet the day of the Son of Man is coming… One can only wonder what was going through their minds as Jesus spoke to them; what had they gotten themselves into? Yet, Jesus isn’t quite finished just yet; there is more to come next time.


About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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4 Responses to Are You Sure You Want to do This?

  1. claire says:

    Very true!
    The best preparation I believe is to put His promises to the test now – they work as well today as they did for the disciples. In my crazy youth when I first became a believer I tried just that (going out with nothing just telling people about Jesus) and I never lacked – it still works.) Not that everyone needs to do that but if we build up our faith muscles now in some way they will be strong when needed.

  2. One of my Muslim converts to Christianity in the Middle East wrote me just yesterday asking for wisdom. He is very afraid for the safety of his children who must listen to the Qur’an being taught in their school system when it has so much violence in it. How does he teach his little children to follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace, instead? How does he teach them to keep it a secret because they will be kidnapped and enslaved if the Muslims find out the children bellieve Jesus is the Son of God? Pray? He already does that. What else can he do as their father?

    • Don Merritt says:

      That’s a really tough one; here we sit in safety thinking we have all of the answers!

      Pray? Of course, and he’s doing that. Believe God? Yes, without question! To believe God’s promises, and in His sovereignty with the assurance that whatever men may do to oppose the Gospel, that our testimony counts for something, that God has a plan and even when it doesn’t quite go our way, that He is working out His perfect will: Faith! Have faith, build faith, rely on faith and keep the faith. There are times when that is all we have, and in those times, God sustains us, even though it may hurt.

      I hope that all who read of this will add their voices in prayer for all of our brothers and sisters who are oppressed, secure in the knowledge that God is ultimately in control of events.

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