"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Matthew 10:16-25 - Sheep Among Wolves

This is a continuation of yesterday's post about Jesus' instruction to his disciples. Let's continue on . . .

16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

17"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19But 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, 20for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."

1. First about sheep among wolves, the Quest Study Bible suggests:

"Some think this illustrates the danger to which the disciples would be exposed. Others place the emphasis on the character qualities of the two animals: the sheep-like response of the disciples and the ferocious reactions of the religious and political leaders."

What do you think?

2. I think the reference to snakes and doves is interesting advice.

The free online dictionary defines shrewd this way:

1. Characterized by keen awareness, sharp intelligence, and often a sense of the practical.
2. Disposed to artful and cunning practices; tricky.
3. Sharp; penetrating

Since part two about doves is to be innocent, I think we can safely disregard definition two concerning trickiness. However the other two definitions I can understand especially perhaps the first one.

It's good to be "innocent," huh? Not much I hate more than for someone who has been preaching about Jesus to suddenly be discovered as a complete fraud - immoral, unethical, whatever! Walk closely with Jesus in order to produce good fruit (John 15)!

3. It seems some in the house of Israel aren't going to like the message. Otherwise why would men hand the disciples over to the local councils and beat them in their synagogues? Why would this happen on Jesus' account? What is offensive to the Jews - to us now - about his message?

4. Notice now that Gentiles are mentioned. Recall in the last post how Jesus' instructions were for the disciples to go to the lost sheep of Israel. Now they are witnesses to kings, governors and non-Jewish people.

5. Notice, too, that they are instructed not to worry about how to answer the rulers as the Spirit of their Father would speak for them. Can you imagine having God speaking on your behalf in front of governmental leaders?

21"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."

6. Why will people hate others because of Jesus? I hate to think of family members turning on one another. What does "standing firm to the end" mean? Saved from what?

24"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!"

7. Is this reference to Beelzebub concerning the accusation that Jesus cast out demons by the power of demons? I'm jumping ahead just a bit, but notice this from Matthew 12.

22Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"

24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

25Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."

8. So it seems in Matthew 10:24 & 25 that Jesus is warning his followers not to be surprised when they are persecuted or accused of doing miracles by Satan's power. Notice in Matthew 12:28 Jesus' reference to God's Spirit aka the Holy Spirit.

Do you have any thoughts on any of this? Please share!


Suroor said...


In Islamic theology Satan can't whisper to prophets, neither can he take the shape of angels.

Amber said...

1. How about both? We know that the Bible, especially Jesus' sayings, never work only on one level.

2. I like the injunction to be clever and careful, but not to let yourself fall into the pitfalls of cleverness - which can be trickery.

3. At least at the time, I think the most offensive part of the message was that Christ was God, and that the Law was profitless. Now? I think selflessness might be the most 'offensive' thing about the Gospel.

6. I think that the 'standing firm to the end' means remaining faithful unto death. For many of the early Christians, this came as martyrdom. For us, it's 'merely' persevering until our deaths, whenever we may meet our end.

7 & 8. Perhaps. It's easy enough for the devil to appear as something good. It's a position of power - to appear good. We know that there are 'miracles' performed through his powers. After all, he was an angel. He was the best and the brightest. Fallen as he is, he's never ceased to *be* an angel. Putting on a guise similar to his original form isn't difficult at all.


What about the temptation of Jesus in the desert? Or is that not acknowledged in Islam?

Suroor said...

Amber, that is not acknowledged :)

But Abraham's is and hence the stoning of the devil. The idea is that Satan may try to dissuade prophets but they don't let themselves be dissuaded!

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks for sharing that. I guess prophets are immune from the temptations that we have to struggle with.

Amber, I always like reading your answers. I'm so glad you took the time to share many things here.

I suppose selflessness is so 'offensive' now because we are so stinking selfish and proud these days. :-/

I'm glad you said what you did about the devil. You saved me from doing so in reply to Suroor's comment. Yes, he often appears as an angel of light...not some red man with horns and a pitchfork.

Thank you both for your replies!