June 29, 2017
Sheep Among Wolves
June 28, 2017
Those of us who struggle to get our belongings in one carry-on for a flight will marvel at Jesus’ packing instructions for his disciples’ mission (v. 9-10). Excess baggage is not acceptable when someone is on a mission with Jesus! Jesus’ plan for the disciples: Preach that the Kingdom is near and also do the things that are the signs of the Kingdom: heal and bring life back to the people. This is the same mission Jesus took for himself in his sermon in Luke 4:16-19.
Matthew was written about 90 CE, and the writer knows the persecutions Paul suffered. His descriptions of the Kingdom’s enemies are chilling. “Wolves” will surround the disciples-they face imprisonment and death. If we go out today and invite people to church, we are more likely to face a wall of apathy and self-absorption than physical harm. Ministering to people who have become indifferent can wound the spirit. Entering a mission field – even one close to home – means we have to be ready to leave our comfort zone.
In “Life Together,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. . . . On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he came, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. Therein lies our commission, our work. [Here Bonhoeffer quotes Martin Luther:] ‘The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And those who will not suffer this do not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; they want to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. . . If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been spared?'”
When we’re sent by Jesus, it is wise to go prepared but with the assurance that God’s Spirit speaks through us and gives us the will to endure. “But the one who endures to the end will be delivered” (v. 22).
Questions for the Field
- What do we need to leave behind in order to be effective witnesses of the Kingdom?
- What does Jesus mean by asking us to “proclaim good news”?
- What evidence shows the Kingdom to be near to us now?
Family Field Talk
- What do you think it means to be “wise as serpents, gentle as doves” (v. 16)?
- How can you persuade people around you to know that God is good?
God our Shepherd, you set a table for us before our enemies and ask us to show them what life is like in your Kingdom. Give us boldness and wisdom, gentleness and healing power. Guide us by your Spirit that Christ’s reign may come in all the earth. Amen.