Jesus talks to His disciples today about the people they will be serving as they go out. He doesn’t speak strictly about the people they will be serving in the next couple of days or weeks, but in their lifetime. He prepares them for the difficult task ahead. After such a “pep talk” I don’t know if I would be so eager to run out and start ministering. But in that “pep talk” He is SURE to mention that He and God, again, have their backs.
Jesus starts by saying that they are going out as “sheep in the midst of wolves” (verse 16) but that they are not to just stand there and be eaten. They are, however, to remain innocent in these circumstances. They are not to become like the wolves to fit in. But they are to be wise about their strategies in reaching out to those they are to serve. Don’t become like them but make your lifestyle so enticing to them that they want to become like you. You, after all, have the only true remedy to their problem. And you are offering it to them freely.
Jesus tells His disciples that even though they are freely offering the only solution, His disciples can expect trouble. Every one of them will face serious repercussions because of their faith in Him. They will be put in prison. They will be flogged. They will be dragged into court. They will be made to stand before governors and kings. ALL these things WILL happen because of their faith and their willingness to share His word. I wonder how many were squirming in their seats at this point. Anyone want out now?
The good news is, Jesus doesn’t leave off His description here. Jesus assures them that He has already made arrangements with His Father to stand with them in these situations. They don’t need to worry about how to defend themselves, because the Spirit of God Himself would put the words in their mouth when it was needed. In fact, the Spirit would be the one speaking through them so they could have faith in the right message getting delivered each time.
Jesus let His disciples know that this would not be just a tough time for them, but for anyone who believes in Him. Brother against brother. Fathers against his children. Children against their parents. Death would even be the result of these conflicts, all because of belief if Jesus’ name. Still want to be part of this group?
The disciples were told by Jesus that they didn’t have to stand there accepting blow after blow, but to flee the city where these extreme persecutions were happening. They weren’t to pack up at the first sign of trouble, but they were permitted to get out of Dodge when things were bad. Jesus said that they wouldn’t make it through all the towns of Israel before He came back. I’m wondering if this meant there would be towns where they wouldn’t have to deal with persecution or that He would be back to get them before they got through all of Israel, or maybe that there would be towns in Israel that wouldn’t let them even enter until just before He returned. I’m also wondering which “return” He is talking about here. Is He referring to His return to the disciples as a group for more training, or to His return after His ascension?
Jesus ends his “customer service” description by reminding His disciples that they had already seen how He was treated by the Pharisees and such. He said that if He was treated this way, that they could certainly expect the same. He also showed them, by example, how to behave in the face of such opposition. He never forced His doctrine on anyone and when asked to leave by the whole town, He did as requested. Our “deviled ham” account proved that. He also stood His ground with the truth when confronted by the opposition.
Jesus, Your job description is scary! If it wasn’t for knowing You and what You had to offer, no one would want to sign up. What You have to offer is beyond compare and beyond this mortal life. How could the disciples resist that? How can I? They couldn’t and they didn’t. Whatever they were going to face, it was worth the price of following You. Even Judas signed up to go on the road with the others. When he went, did he do it with a pure heart or were there ulterior motives even then? Regardless, You sent him anyway. You trusted him with Your message. It just didn’t get past his own surface.
Please saturate me with Your message and Your presence. I know we don’t face the kind of persecution You talked about here in our lives in America (yet), but others do in certain parts of the world. Please put Your peace in their hearts and Your words in their mouths. For me personally Lord, place in me Your fire, Your wisdom, Your love, and Your innocence when it comes to sharing Your word with others. Thank You that I can share You and Your word this way. Please let it bless those who read it. To the questions I asked earlier, “Anyone want out now” and “Still want to be a part of this group”, to the first NO, and the second ABSOLUTLY!