16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
This is such an interesting moment. Jesus calls a varity of men to be his disciples, many of them illiterate and disreputable (zealots). He the commissions them to go into the world before the cross to heal sickness, drive our demons and preaching the message of the coming kingdom. It get’s even crazier, he guarantees these men they will be facing persecution….Jesus intentionally places sheep amongst wolves. No good shepherd does that! It is the shepherd’s responsibility to protect the sheep from the wolves, so what is he doing here? Jesus seeks to confound the powers of the world, that it will be through the gentle, through the humble, through the unexpected that he will spread his message of the kingdom. No one would send out sheep to preach to wolves, except God, who confuses the world by using the lowly to carry the message of the King.
I think this passage always reminds me that Jesus hasn’t asked me to be skilled, talented, or amazing at theology before he can use me. He uses the weakest vessels to prove the greatness of his glory. But more than that, even in the face of persecution His spirit grants the words at the right time to testify to the kingdom of God. Being used by God has less to do with my ability and more in my ability to trust and have faith in God’s faithfulness. I need to be more concerned with obedience over skill.
Jesus, thank you that we live in a country where we do not yet face persecution. Yet still, it can be hard to be faithful carriers of your message. Please grant me both the opportunity and the courage today to walk faithfully as your ‘sheep among wolves’, carrying the transformative message of the gospel for the glory of your name. Amen