Matthew 10: In a Hostile Environment
Matthew 10 is the commissioning of the disciples, and Jesus sends them first to the people of Israel. I point that out here because I think that is important to remember for the context of the chapter. God’s own chosen people are not going to treat Jesus’ disciples very well.
Mat 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Mat 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
Mat 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Mat 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Mat 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
There is an interesting contrast here. Jesus tells the disciples that they need to reach only to the people of Israel at this point. Later on, the Great Commission expanded that to all of humanity, but at this point it was limited to only Israel. He then tells them what is going to happen to them while they are doing this, and He is sending them to wolves.
First of all Jesus limits the scope of operations, and then He tells them that where they are going to be operating is a highly dangerous environment. They don’t have a choice to go anywhere else. They were being sent into the fire. I don’t know about you, but that would kind of make me a little bit nervous. Yesterday at my church we had a guest speaker from Voice of the Martyrs and she showed this video to illustrate what it is like to live in an environment where Christianity can surely cost you your life.
I have a hard time thinking about this. As an American, Christianity might not always be the most popular choice. It might cost some opportunities to participate in some activities, but I know that at least I have personally never even thought that here in the United States it could cost me everything.
The obvious question then is to wonder how we would react in this type of situation. The disciples did what Jesus told them to do. Even with this information surely in the front of their minds, they knew that it was what they needed to do. They knew that being followers of Jesus made everything worth it in the long run despite the persecution that all of them ended up facing at some point in their lives.
I would like to say I could do the same, but I don’t know that I could on my own strength. It would truly need to be strength directly from God to help my weak flesh persevere. I have a feeling that is how the disciples did it, and that is how people in these tragic situations today do it.