Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 10:16

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you to councils and scourge you in their synagogues." -Matthew 10:16-17

Who is this command spoken to?

The first part of chapter ten indicates that Jesus is speaking directly to the twelve disciples. Jesus is about to send them out for ministry.

What does this command require?

Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Beware of men who will treat you poorly.

What truths do we learn through this command?

Jesus doesn't hide anything from his disciples. He lets them know right away that the situation that he is sending them into is not a pretty picture. Sheep are helpless creatures. They have no natural defense. They generally flock together and try their best to avoid problems. Jesus sent his disciples out as 'sheep in the midst of wolves.' This isn't the nicest sounding situation.

We learn here that ministry isn't always an easy situation. In fact, if you find an easy ministry, let me know! Ministry is tough. The people that you get to minister to don't always believe in the gospel. They don't always agree with your methods. They don't always agree with your theology. They don't always want to replace the evil in their lives with good. It will be tough, and most of the time you will feel as helpless as a sheep in the midst of a pack of wolves. Praise God we have the Great Shepherd with us all the time (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus even promises here that men will send us to the courts, and they will beat us up--get this--in the synagogues. The religious are the ones to fear. They will be the most adamantly against your ministry. Beware.

Jesus does give instruction in this situation He is sending them to. Be wise as serpents. Serpents are crafty creatures. If you observe them in the wild for any amount of time you will notice how subtle their movements are, how well they are able to disguise themselves, and how quickly they strike their prey. Jesus implores his disciples to be wise as serpents. I believe that this means they were to be skilled in their ministry and skilled in handling the sheep/wolves situations. We are to be cunning and wise enough to avoid senseless abuse. Be harmless as doves. In all the cunning and wisdom displayed in ministry, do not use it to attack those to whom you will minister. Be harmless. Don't lose sight of what it is you are trying to accomplish. You are seeking to win people to Christ, not win an argument.

What are the consequences for disobedience?

unprepared for the reality of ministry,

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