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Disciples in Danger! Matthew 10:16-22

21/09/2018

Disciples in Danger!

Text. Matthew 10:16-22

I’m not a great fan of ‘rap music’ but I came across a ‘rap’ called ‘Exile Dial Tone.’ Here’s just some of the words:-

We’re part of a culture, that really loves to hate us, Every chance they get, they attempt to isolate and debate us. It’s not that they don’t like us. It’s just they don’t like God in us, It’s common knowledge and oddly enough, it makes a lot of sense to a lot of us. We completely understand because we use to occupy the same space. And lived in a similar type state until we tasted of God’s grace. So we continue loving this world that so easily rejects us … What always makes for a better presentation than bark and bite Is a proper understanding of living life filled with salt and light. So we walk this fine line of walking in light of God’s kindness And live with a sense of worldliness without the fear of compromising Loving God and neighbour until Christ comes to split the sky. Or die in this society hailing Jesus as Messiah. Yup! (https://humblebeast.com/artists/beautiful-eulogy/)

How true is all of that? It’s NEVER been any different, and it never will, until Jesus returns. Let’s see how Jesus prepares his disciples for the hostile environment that they will be living and working in…

1. Belligerence and the Believer. 16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
The principle is stated. Jesus never sugar-coats the cost of discipleship. As a Christian, – everyone will hate you! That’s the message. It’s important to understand this verse, for the following verses expand upon it.

  • Sheep and Wolves. Jesus firstly describes the difference between believers and the world. They are like easy prey for ravenous wild animals. Matthew Henry points out that purpose of Christ’s words here is not to over frighten them, but to encourage them to depend on him (who sent them) for their protection.
  • Serpents and Doves. Now Jesus uses another illustration – to make us think about our own demeanour, our own attitude when these trials come. We should be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove. Christians should be harmless, meek, humble – but nowhere in the scriptures are we taught that Christians should be naive! But we must be as harmless as doves –

Did this put them off? Not at all. Christianity is not for softies. You will be hated by the world; are we up to the challenge? John 15:18 Look at how widespread this hatred is…

2. The Extent of the Enmity.
Now you might expect that hostility will come from militant atheists, or from fanatical Islamists, or from the cultural lobbies, but don’t be fooled, the hatred of Christ, of Christianity and of Christians is much more deeply entrenched than that. Look how intrinsic it is to the unregenerate nature of man…

  • Friends and neighbours will betray you. 17  ‘Beware of men.’ You couldn’t get a broader sweep of mankind. MEN! Not male persons, but mankind. των ανθρωπων. It is part of their unregenerate nature to hate their Creator Christ
  • The ‘Church’ will punish you! and scourge you in their synagogues. How unexpected! If the preachers of the gospel thought they would be warmly welcomed in the assemblies of the established religion… They’d soon discover otherwise.
  • The government will not protect you. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. I think we know that though! The ruling class is not the friend of the believer, as the disciples were to discover in Acts. 5:27
  • Even your own family will turn against you. 21  Yes, in many cases, being a believer can even mean that your own family will want nothing to do with you. In fact…
    Everyone will hate you. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.

Strangely, you never hear any of that in a Joel Osteen sermon, or in a seeker friendly, attraction church. Even in some evangelical churches…

3. Hope in the Hostile Habitat.
Now, how will understanding and accepting this fact about the hostile environment in which the Christian live help us and bless us?

  • Don’t worry about your witness. 19  For early disciples perhaps the greatest dread of all, would be to know what to say when persecution comes. How will I give an account of my faith? What if I let down my Saviour? Jesus gives them a great deal of reassurance. The Lord will be your helper. In your time of trial, he will be with you and will help you to know what to say.
  • Trust in your heavenly father, and remember that the Holy Spirit indwells you. 20 . We have a Father, who cares for us and looks after us and watches over us, and who is with us even in times of great persecution, and he has given us his Holy Spirit, to aid us in our witness for him. Perhaps the purpose of suffering is that our experience of wicked hatred and mistreatment will be an opportunity for us to be a strong witness to the grace of God, – loving God and our neighbours, even in the very grip of hatred.
  • Look forward to heaven! But he who endures to the end will be saved. You might ask, “Why does God not just stop Christians from suffering?” He could do, yet out of love and mercy he is long-suffering with the wicked, calling them to repentance. Yet for us, – this world should not occupy our thoughts too much, for we have a mansion awaiting us in heaven, where all these persecutions and tortures will be over. Paul described his suffering in this world in 2 Corinthians 11:24-29 and he still said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:16

There is a doctrinal application too of course for when we speak of ‘the perseverance of the saints’ we are reminding ourselves of the reformed doctrine that the one who is truly saved will persevere to the end and will be in heaven.

So Jesus prepares his disciples for the horrendous hostility that will face them when they make their way out into the world, to work for him.

© Bob McEvoy September 2018

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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