SHEEP & WOLVES, SERPENTS & DOVES
vs 16ff “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.
“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
“Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
Jesus is speaking…(my paraphrase)
“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep into a pack of wolves, so be aware & quick like a snake but as guileless and innocent as a dove. Be on your guard for men who will report your ‘evil, criminal’ actions to antagonistic religious leaders. They will even beat you right in their churches. You’ll be arrested and brought to trial. But this will only confirm their final judgment. When you are brought to trial, don’t think about what you are going to say. It will be given to you even as you speak. It won’t be you speaking but your Father speaking in you.”
“Don’t be surprised when it is your own family members that turn you in. You’ll be hated by everyone because of Me, but just keep going. When you are persecuted in one city, run to another. You will not get to all the cities of Israel before I come. What I say in our private conversations, preach it openly in public. Don’t let their threats and slander paralyze you. They did the same to me so why would it be any different for you? They can only kill what will die anyway. So don’t fear them, fear and obey God. You are very valuable to Him and He will take good care of you. As long as you are speaking for Me, I am speaking for you to the Father. Don’t let that communication be broken by fear of men.”
“And don’t think this turmoil means that I have lost control. This is the exact results My coming was meant to produce. It will truly expose those who really love and follow Me. The one that can’t turn away from whatever is against Me is deceived, believing that He is saving himself. But it’s really just the opposite. Only by letting go of what seems to be his life will he save his real life. So the ones that receive you, some oat the risk of their reputations and freedom, are receiving Me. The reward for receiving you is that they receive the Life I give you.”
At first glance, these words from Jesus to His disciples sound very appropriate for them and maybe for some of our missionary brothers who have ministered in hostile cultures but not especially relevant to us. After all, it is still pretty popular in this country to be a Christian. Or, is it? Last time I looked it is unconstitutional to teach or talk about biblical values in our public institutions. Unless by Christian you mean being aware of the Christ-consciousness and our oneness with the universe. Then, of course, you can teach everything and anything you want to, as long as you are not a “fundamentalist.” Applied to followers of Jesus, that means you believe there’s a God and He wrote a Book and sent His Son so we could know and be with Him. That, to the World Religion Council is the greatest enemy to true peace and harmony in the world.
Once you consider these developments you could actually read these words of Jesus and take them as a warning to US! One thing is made very clear for every reader. Life is not what it seems. Reality is defined differently from two very different points of view. One point of view is ours. The other is God’s, which can be ours if we choose to let Him overrule our natural way of seeing things. That’s where we get the term supernatural. The natural, overcome by the super. The dark, overcome by the Light; isolation, overcome by reconciliation; indifference, overcome by Love; death, overcome by Life.
Perhaps, one of the greatest proofs that there is a God is that we have this sense of contrast and struggle between dark and light, wrong and right. These self-filled, new-age, Hindu/”Christian” philosophers make a grave mistake in their logic when they attack we dangerous fundamentalists. They presume that the only reason we have that guilt-producing sense of right and wrong is that we have grown up under the brainwashing tactics of these Bible-thumping Christians. By essentially denying the existence of a Father/Creator/God, they miss the fact that He initiated the whole thing: “He seeks genuine worshippers” – John 4:23, “… God so loved…” – John 3:16, etc.
We’re not looking for God, God is looking for us. Hallelujah! He found me and gave purpose and meaning to an otherwise empty and useless existence. Thank you, Jesus!