In today’s Gospel Lesson we get a glimpse of Jesus preparing his disciples to go out on mission.
As I read about it in the Bible I see Jesus gathering his disciples around him in an open place, probably on a hillside, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. There he warned them of the dangers and difficulties they would encounter. He warned them that they would be hated by all those in the Religious Establishment because of his name.
Jesus began his warning to his disciples saying, “I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” The picture of sheep going out into the midst of wolves would have been familiar to all of the disciples in that sheep-herding country. The farthest outreaches of pasture land would be far from civilized towns and villages. Bordering on the wilderness it would be common for wolves to dart out at unwary sheep and kill one or more for a meal. Jesus warned the disciples to be both wise and cautious in their dealings with officials of Judaism who might try to draw them unprepared into complex discussions of Jewish law.
This came out of the confrontations Jesus had experienced in his early ministry. (Cf. Jn 5:15-47, 6:41-58) Then he added these encouraging words, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 10:22b)
Much of what Jesus predicted at the end of today’s Gospel lesson regarding betrayal by trusted friends or kinfolk has been very true whenever one group has taken charge and persecuted those who disagree.
In spite of such times many more have taken courage in Jesus’ Name and persevered to the end.
These warnings and encouragements are found in all the Gospels.
Further words of encouragement can be found in Paul’s letters, and in others in the New Testament.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans we find encouraging words such as these:
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:37-39)
Doesn’t this say it all? What more do we need to encourage us in our life and ministry in Jesus Christ?
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