Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Matthew 10: 16


Jesus knew the true character of the world that He was living in. He was aware of the poison that was hidden behind the smiles, and He was fully aware of the ancient plot that had been launched to destroy righteousness for the sake of selfish power. Jesus was warning His disciples about the sharp teeth and the claws of pain that were going to cause them suffering and grief. We need to pay attention to Christ’s words today. Pain, suffering, grief, and evil are topics that He knows a great deal about. He wasn’t speaking solely for the benefit of the handful of followers who were there then. These words of caution are also intended by Christ to be viewed as instruction for living in the same depraved culture and fallen world that He was viewing two thousand years ago. All of our scientific and intellectual advancements have done little to change the topography of spiritual battlefields. The war is still fought hand to hand by individuals who decide to sacrifice all for the sake of everything important.


Frankly, the image that Jesus set out here is quite odd. No military commander would send the most poorly trained and the defenseless of his troops into battle. Likewise, no business or governmental leader would rationally task a completely untrained and unskilled employee with negotiating survive-or-fail type agreements with wily adversaries. Yet Jesus does this very thing. In fact, He seems to be suggesting that we need to empty our pockets of whatever weapons we might own, and clear our minds of the strategies that we have learned over time. Christ wants us to enter into the struggle for spiritual territory with an approach to the fight that is so radical, so utterly unconventional that it might cause the opponent to die of laughter. He wants us to go about life in the same way that He did, which, by the way, was fairly successful.


Jesus left all of His position, power, and glory behind to join humanity as one of us. He brought a loving sincerity and an engaging relational approach to answering the issue of our separation from God. Christ entered into the shattered lives of people and engaged with the devastation that sin has brought to the Father’s exquisitely beautiful creation landscape with righteousness and truth and with the loving grace of God. Jesus is preparing us for our days of laboring in His fields by granting us the same tools of trade. We aren’t gracious, we certainly aren’t righteous, and we don’t possess truth outside of Christ. I think that Jesus wants us to humbly submit to Him and to His will. He is telling us to become empty and powerless in our own wisdom so that we can be filled with His. We enter the contest of the day as sheep that are totally reliant upon the shepherd. Then it is that very shepherd who protects our hearts, minds, and spirits while granting us the gift of His wisdom to use as our primary tool in winning the world for Christ’s kingdom.