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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #166
TEXT: Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
We are in a series of messages on the theme of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. In this series, we are looking at Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 10:16-42 as He sends them out on a missionary journey. Jesus Christ makes it clear that they will face trouble, conflict, and difficulty as they preach that the Kingdom of God has come, and He tells them how to handle the conflict that they will face. The first thing He says is, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…”
In our first message, we saw that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means being calm despite the conflict. When we are faced with conflict, a Christian should still have peace in his heart and mind because our peace is found in God, not in our circumstances.
Secondly, we learned that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means following Jesus amidst the frenzy of this world. The broad way of the world is lined by all kinds of attractions, distractions, and temptations. The devil will use the cares of this world to get us to falter in our walk with Christ. But, as sheep, we only follow one leader, and that is the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Third, today, we see that being a sheep in the midst of wolves means being peaceful despite the pain. Jesus said, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Let me put it simply — wolves bite. As Christians living in a world that seems to be growing increasingly hostile to Christianity, we must be prepared to face pain. Christians in Egypt, North Korea, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran and other places around the globe face physical pain each day because they have decided to follow Christ.
Our passage, which we will study in further detail in upcoming messages, goes on to show us that the “wolves”will take the “sheep”to court, whip them, drag them before governors, have parents and children put to death, hate them, persecute them, slander them, and kill them. As John Piper says, “It is clear that when Jesus says he is sending us as sheep in the midst of wolves, he means that we will be treated the way wolves treat sheep.” Already in this country, Christians are being taken to court for standing up for Christian beliefs such as marriage as defined in the Bible.
Listen to these words from Charles Spurgeon: “The weapons of Christians are that they are weaponless. They are to be prudent, discreet, ‘wise as serpents’but they are to be loving, peaceful, ‘harmless as doves.’The Christian missionary will need to be wary, to avoid receiving harm; but he must be of a guileless mind, that he do no harm. We are called to be martyrs, not maniacs; we are to be simple-hearted, but we are not to be simpletons.”
When we face the pain of persecution, how do we respond? If we are to be true followers of Jesus Christ, we must choose to be peaceful in the midst of pain. This means not trying to “get back” or “get even” with our enemies. We should leave everything in God’s hands and let him fight our battles.
One of the reasons why sheep need shepherds is for protection. As I mentioned earlier, sheep have no natural defense mechanisms. The only thing they can do when faced with danger is run, and sometimes they don’t even do that. The shepherd, however, has a rod and a staff. The shepherd uses the rod to drive off predators and keep the sheep safe. A smart sheep will understand this and will stay close to the shepherd, letting the shepherd deal with the wolves.
If you try to take things into your own hands, if you try to avoid the pain of persecution and conflict in your own strength, you will quickly find out that you are not equipped to handle the wolves on your own. So, let me encourage you to just be at peace and let the Shepherd handle the wolves.
Are you following Jesus Christ today? If so, then you have been sent out as a sheep in the midst of wolves. I want to encourage you to be calm despite the conflict, to follow Jesus amidst the frenzy, and to remain peaceful despite the pain.