The Messengers - Part 3Posted: Sat. Jul, 9 2016
The Messengers, part 3.
MAT 10:16-25 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!"
What is abundantly obvious is that the servant of Christ will suffer, and even at the hands of brothers, fathers, and children. Obviously this will sting quite a bit. But it is also true that the Lord personally has sent them out (all servants to the present age) and no amount of hostility or dishonor can erase that fact. None of the disciples of Christ have elected themselves, meaning no one sends themselves out. All believers have been elected by Him and in every election, due to the condition of this world and those in it, there is a portion of suffering at the hands of the world. We must stop being shocked by it. Php 1:29-30 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
1PE 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.
Hence every election contains the true meaning of the word mission, "Behold, I send you." With such a commission we have to conclude that we can never be forsaken by Him. Whether in the midst of dire persecution by a loved one or by a group of strangers, there the Lord of the Armies will be standing at our right hand. Nothing can happen to His servant without His knowing and allowing it, and in His infinite genius it will be for the good of others, glorify Him, and even be to the good of ourselves. No matter how ravenous the wolves, the sheep always have the shepherd with rod and staff at the ready to defend and deliver. We have nothing to fear and no adverse thought should produce anxiety. It would be one thing if we were told not to be anxious of a mission that contained no sting of persecution, but it takes something quite different for us to be handed such a command in a mission that is wrought with danger - it takes Him.
Therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. The serpent was the emblem of wisdom, shrewdness, and intellectual keenness; the dove of simplicity. This is an awesome combination in the minister of Christ, meaning all Christians employed in the use of their spiritual gifts. We are not to be fools who rush head-long into danger, but keen serpents who are aware of the ways of man, the schemes of the devil, and the traps that will be set. Christ states, But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next. This doesn't sound like He wants us to hurl ourselves into martyrdom. In the first two centuries of the church there were many who were martyred without choice and these men and women were rightly admired for their faith and perseverance, but for the subsequent generations martyrdom became a desired end for many Christians, whether seeking fame, or believing that they would glorify God in such a death, but this was foolhardy. Our Lord often slipped away from crowds that planned to kill Him. He would not offer Himself until it was His hour in accordance with the plan of the Father. We don't make our own plans just as we don’t send ourselves out, and it is not a part of the plan of the Father that we be imbeciles in front of the world. But we must discern between worldly cunning and spiritual wisdom and know that it is the latter that is called for and that we can only find it in the word of God.
With the word of God we are wiser than the world concerning the real and integral ways of the world. The worldly people are blinded to it, yet the word of God opens the eyes of our hearts and reveals it for what it really is - a system set up by Satan to oppose grace and goodness and to falsify both. The "worldlees" are blinded by the imitations of goodness, grace and mercy set forth by the kingdom of darkness, but the child of God is not, or at least should not be. In their foolishness the worldlees set traps for the Christian and his gospel truth, but he is too wise for these, and steps around them. He suffers because of them for sure, but they do not at all hinder his message or his manifestation of Christ, in fact, quite the opposite. The traps that cause suffering but not failure only cause the light of Christ to shine even brighter.
This divine wisdom that exceeds the world might cause the believer to feel superior and aloof from the worldly man trapped in his prison of lies, which might cause him to become a snobbish separatist who might only toy with a worldlee the way a cat does with an mouse. He does not, for he is as innocent as a dove. The dove without the serpent is a sap. The serpent without the dove is a snob. The way of the dove is only found in the word of God as is the way of the serpent. The Christian understands the plight of the foolish unbeliever and sympathizes with him in love as one who at one time walked the same dark path. The dove, like the sheep, is helpless and must rely on the Lord alone. His way is one of pure sacrifice and meekness as the Lord described in Mat 5-7. He becomes all things to all men, though he is not these things, so that he might save the more. He relies on God's promise of help and deliverance and does not lord over the ones over which his wisdom towers. He is the true, wise disciple who always abides solely by the word of God in all its simplicity.
But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. The disciple is to have insight into the minds of men. God's testimony of mankind is not a very high one. They will often do the stupidest things and convince themselves that they’re acting quite righteously. The disciple will suffer publically as opposed to many true criminals who suffer in secret. Before the public eye, be it two people or two thousand, the disciple will be brought, but this is only a part of the mission, for it is "for His sake," and in this genius way of our Lord, the testimony gains a wider audience.
To the naked eye, the servant of the Lord stands alone, but he is not alone, for he has his most powerful lawyer at his side so that the testimony is invincible, and so the messenger is invincible. God the Holy Spirit will guide in the wisdom already obtained by the disciple, and by His power his words will be true and piercing as far as the souls and spirits of the hearers. LUK 21:14-15 "So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute." Being guided by the word he must be an inculcated student of the word, but as for preparing a speech with his wisdom, there is no need. This takes far more courage than the self-sought martyrdom of the foolish.
And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes. The suggestion is that Christians will be blamed for all sorts of things; the divisions in cities and in homes; undermining family life; leading nations astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The easiest recourse to this unfair treatment is to seek asylum by fleeing the ways of the Lord, but the promise is that those who persevere to the end will be saved, which in this case most certainly means "delivered." Some have thought that this phrase makes this discourse of our Lord refer to the Tribulation, and the principles certainly apply to that time, but it is clear that such persecution has gone on in this age. Our Lord is promising that no matter how far the enemy takes his cause of persecution, even to death, Jesus will deliver us. But they are not to give their lives to martyrdom if there is an escape, for in escaping to the next city, there will be ears to hear the message and mission that continues. If they run away, they are not running away from Christ and His word, but rather are holding fast to it. They are not running from danger, far from it, they are running to the next danger when the time is right. They will be mocked for this as well, as Paul was when he fled Thessalonica, but so be it, they will mock if you stay or if you go, and it was not Paul's hour, for Borea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Antioch, Jerusalem, Rome, and maybe even Spain were still in need of him. The child of God will know it's his hour because he finds no way of escape, except by rejecting Christ.
But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!" The return of Christ is more certain than our very death, for it will be sudden, coming at any time, and one generation of church age believer will not see death. This assurance is greater than any suffering, for even when the pain is at its apex we can always glance to the horizon, even in our own minds, and anticipate the coming of our great Deliverer.
As is the Master, so shall the disciple. If they called Jesus the devil, how much more shall they call the servants of his household devils? This is an honor. To be labeled as our Lord was is the highest honor a person could receive. One of His servants some time ago gave you and me the gospel of peace and we received it and became fellow servants with them. The Lord has sent us all out, despite the presence of so many wolves, and His treasure in us will see some of the wolves turned to sheep.
REV 22:17, 20 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost… He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries