Matthew 10:16–“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” The Message
What a promise, what a guarantee that Jesus gives us in this verse alone!! He is sending us out like sheep among wolves. The heading in my Bible for this passage is “Persecution will come.” It’s hazardous work following Jesus.
Think about the picture Jesus paints: Sheep among wolves. One wolf among a flock of sheep would cause considerable harm, and this is what Jesus says it will be like as He send out the 12, with a definite eye towards all who would choose to follow Christ.
If you are looking for a safe, controlled life, the conclusion is clear: Stay away from Jesus! He is a lightning rod for “trouble”.
Keep in mind that sheep are one of the most helpless domesticated animals there are. And they are not the smartest, either!
We sometimes have this misguided notion that following Jesus is always easy. The above verse alone and those that follow below that notion out of the water.
He is sending the disciples out to reach and save the lost! He is sending us, too. There is a harvest field for us to reach out to, and Jesus lets us know that it won’t always be easy. The world can be a mean, unfriendly place.
Author, David Platt in his book Radical says it this way:
Jesus told them, “Go to great danger, and let it be said of you what people would say of sheep wandering into the middle of wolves. ‘They’re crazy! They’re clueless! They have no idea what kind of danger they are getting into!
This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
The great news if you read on in this passage is that He will never leave you or forsake you!!
Yes, you may be facing hardships because of your belief in Christ, but you and I can take comfort in the fact that Jesus is with us…and will give us the words to speak.
This reminds me of one of my favorite stories, the story of Stephen.
Acts 6:8– Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.
Keep reading, and you will see that he was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin.
And there, he preaches! He makes such an impression that they rush him out of town and stone him to death.
Wow. That’s not quite what you would expect. He was only doing what God would want, right?
Stephen was sent out like sheep among wolves. Some may say he failed.
But look at the results.
Acts 8:4–But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
People had the Gospel preached to them. Why? Because Stephen “loved not his life even unto death.” Stephen had an eternal perspective. He didn’t go looking for trouble; it found him.
In reading the story of Stephen, I am reminded of these verses in John 12.
John 12:23-25– I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.
So, as we go on today, think about it. Are you “dead” to yourself? Are you and I ready to be sent into the harvest field…no matter the cost?
Let’s grab ahold of an eternal perspective and truly be like “sheep among wolves”.