[And then Jesus said,] “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues;18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles.19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:16-20 (NRSV)
I spent the weekend being drawn back again and again into the gospels and Acts as I considered how and what Jesus taught His disciples. Scholars may write libraries of books on whether His ministry with these men lasted one year or three, but either way, it was an intense time. Jesus laid the ground work and the Spirit continues to fulfill His role as teacher until this day.
When I read Chapter 10 in Matthew, I am struck by the “lists” that bring information to the point. There are no parables here. Matthew tells who the disciples are and then goes right into Jesus sending them out to preach what they have heard. They are not going to “all the world” yet. They are to begin with their own community. Jesus warns them of trouble; there will be people violently opposed to what He has said about God and His Kingdom. Strangely enough, I also hear how much God loves them, how much He loves me, who is also His disciple.
Jesus walked the path first. There is no step that God asks me to take that Jesus doesn’t show me the way by His example. He shows me what compassion really is. He sets an example of what grace is all about. He even shows me how to take down some hypocrites. Most of all I see how Jesus keeps His eyes on the Kingdom goals.
Jesus warns of people who will cause trouble. Before the disciples set out on their first mission, Jesuswarns them about people who will accuse them and lock them up. The troubling statement is when Jesus warns that even our families may violently disagree with our new life. Making a commitment to Jesus can also make our family and close friends uncomfortable if they are not in the same place.
Jesus shows us the Father always knows. Jesus speaks to my uncertain, questioning heart. He reassures me that the Father knows me and what is going on in my life, even down to the number of hairs on my head. If I am struggling, if I am being truly persecuted, if I even have questions about who He is and how He works, God knows and wants to make His powerful, loving presence known to me.
Too often in this world my concept of love may be defined by experience with superficial people. When God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” (Jeremiah 31:3) His definition is infinite and pure. As I continue to read and gain insight into what it means to be one of Jesus’ disciples, I will find throughout the Scriptures God’s testimony of His love for me. Persecution may come to me but God’s love and great mercy will never fail no matter how difficult the road.
Your Love is Extravagant written & sung by Darrell Evans