“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." Matthew 10:16-26
These are some of the first words Jesus shared with His newly recruited followers. I want you to try and put yourself in the place of these new recruits early in their indoctrination. How would you have been thinking as you listened to these dire predictions from Jesus?
1) "I am sending you out as sheep among wolves."
Okay, so what happens when a sheep is turned loose into a pack of wolves?
Carnage happens. The defenseless sheep will be savagely seized upon and torn to shreds.
2) "For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues"
Notice, Jesus does not say, "If you are arrested or if you are flogged" but rather, He says, "when you are arrested and flogged".
Being arrested was a bad thing. No one wants to end up on the wrong side of the law. But being flogged is far worse than being arrested. Flogging tore flesh from the back, or the shoulders or the thighs and left life-long scars. Occasionally a person would die from the flogging.
Jesus frankly informed them that as they followed Him there would arrests and floggings in their future.
3) "You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers"
As a result of choosing to follow Christ these disciples would find themselves arrested and brought before very powerful and corrupt officials.
How fair do you suppose that trial might be?
4) "When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say"
Notice, Jesus didn't say "if" you are arrested He says, "when" you are arrested.
Wow! They are being told one of the results of following Jesus will be ending up on the wrong side of the ruling officials.
5) Family members and friends will turn against you and turn you into the officials seeking to arrest you for following Jesus.
How would you feel about the prospect of your family turning against you OR even turning you in to the authorities just because you have chosen to follow Jesus?
Would this make you reconsider your decision to follow Jesus? Would you begin to worry? Would you find yourself becoming fearful? Would you ask to be excused? Were these the things you signed up for when you decided to follow Jesus? How do you feel about your decision to follow Him if this is where it leads?
Jesus must have sensed their growing apprehension or more likely, He saw it on their faces when He continued, “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you."
Say, what? Have no fear?
So, how do I do that?
How can a follower of Christ be made fully aware of the potential perils of following Him and have no fear?
You can start by remembering WHO it is you are following.
You can remember all the promises made to those who follow faithfully until the end.
You can continue to follow the blog this week as I lead you to Jesus' answer.