What can we expect when we take the gospel message to the world as a Disciple of Jesus?
Matthew 10:16-24 tells us what to expect, and it is not your best life now.
(1) We can expect to be hunted by wolves (16)
Wolves are fierce protectors of their territory. If you have ever seen the movie The Grey you know what I mean. A group of men are traveling home from working in a remote Alaskan camp. A few minutes after take off their airplane goes down in the Alaskan wilderness. Instead of waiting for rescue, they set off in search of civilization.
As they do, they realize wolves are after them. One by one each of the surviving members are picked off, until one person is left. Without knowing it, their plane crashed at the edge of a wolf pack’s territory. Every step brought them closer to the wolves’ den.
As we go out to spread the gospel, we are entering wolf territory. Jesus sends us out as sheep. Sheep are natural prey of wolves. Like these men we too are hunted.
So as we go out with the message of the gospel, we are guaranteed to attract the attention of wolves. Wolves that don’t want us in their territory. Wolves that want nothing more than to take us out because we are spreading a message they don’t like.
(2) We can expect to be punished (17-18)
In order to get rid of us, these men, these wolves will deliver us over to courts and synagogues.
Reading through church history, you find most of the disciples were persecuted, even killed at the hands of courts.
Paul, one of the churches greatest missionaries, suffered at the hands of authorities. He was held in Roman jails. Flogged numerous times. Five times he received thirty-nine lashes. Forty would have resulted in death.
The church today experiences persecution.
- Indonesian churches are being forced to close right now.
- 900 Christians were murdered in Nigeria for their faith in 2012.
- 191 Christians have been arrested and detained so far this year in Eritrea.
- In Germany, a human rights courts recently rejected hearing cases of alleged discrimination against three UK Christians. One demoted for wearing a cross necklace to work. Another disciplined for refusing to conduct a same-sex marriage. The third fired for refusing to provide relational counseling to same-sex couples.
Lest we are naive, persecution is beginning to happen in the United States. We may not be imprisoned or put to death for our beliefs, but we are consistently marginalized as our society marches toward secularism.
- In Manhattan, churches can no longer use public schools as places of worship.
- The media continues to blast Christians for their beliefs, especially when it comes to same-sex marriage. We saw that with Tim Tebow and Louie Giglio recently.
We may not face intense persecution in the States, but persecution exists. Disciples of Jesus can expect it to occur.
(3) We can expect our own families to turn against us (21)
Jesus expects families to be divided in their loyalty to Him. Just because a father comes to Christ doesn’t mean his son or daughter will, and vice versa. Just because a sibling proclaims Christ doesn’t mean the others will. So in our families we can expect divided loyalty to Christ.
Divided loyalty may lead to persecution. Jesus speaks of family members handing each other over to be put to death. In some parts of the world this occurs today. Especially, in regions where Christianity is despised. Family members are disowned for professing Christ. In some cases, their life is sought by their own family because they are seen as an enemy.
So as we spread the gospel, we can expect our own family members to turn on us.
(4) We can expect to be hated and criticized (22)
When I lived in Fort Worth, I would talk to this one guy fairly often at the coffee shop. He was an atheist. If our conversation steered clear of Christianity, he was pleasant. As soon as we started talking about Christianity, however, a distinct change took place. Anger and hatred shone through in his tone and facial expressions. He hated Christ and those who followed Him, and it showed.
Hatred for Christ is not just reserved for coffee shop atheists. Listen to certain radio programs or read certain newspapers and you will find a hatred for Christianity exists in the media and larger culture.
It is only natural we be hated and criticized.
In Matthew 10:24-25, Jesus tells us we are not above Him. He is our Master. Our Leader. Our Savior. If people hated Him and criticized Him, they will hate and criticize us. If they rejected and killed Him, they will do the same to us. It has nothing to do with our likableness or personality. Rather, it has everything to do with what we believe.
The gospel is offensive.
It tells us we are all sinners. Corrupt, broken, rebels who need to be fixed. Fixing we can’t do on our own. We can’t remove our own sin. No amount of good works, or sacrifices will do. We can do nothing to reconcile our own relationship with God.
Thankfully, we have Jesus. He is the only one who reconcile our relationship with God. He does so through the cross.
Until we admit we are sinners, repent and turn from that sin, admit Jesus is our Savior, we remain enemies of God. Until we recognize He took the punishment we deserve. Until we admit those things, our relationship with God remains broken. We face His punishment, His Wrath for all eternity.
That message is offensive. Not only are we telling people they are sinners, who are corrupt and broken. We are also claiming Jesus is the only way to a restored relationship with God. Nothing else will do it. No amount of works. Nor any other religious belief. Jesus is the only way to a restored relationship with God and eternal life. Those who don’t believe in Jesus experience eternal punishment in hell.
Because our message is offensive, people hate us, which is what we can expect as Jesus’ Disciples.
Jesus’ Disciples can expect:
- (1) To be hunted by wolves
- (2) To be delivered over for punishment
- (3) To have their own families turn against them
- (4) And to be hated and criticized.
After reviewing a list like this, no one can accuse Jesus of sugarcoating what His disciples should expect as they go out with the gospel. He doesn’t attempt to deceive anyone. He shoots us straight. He tells us the cost.
Who is ready to sign up to be Jesus’ disciple? Who is ready to have wolves hunt them? Who is ready to have their families turn on them? Who is ready to be hated and criticized? Who is ready to be persecuted? Doesn’t seem too appealing. Why would we want to be a Disciple of Jesus? I will answer that question next time.
Post adapted from my recent sermon: How Jesus’ Disciples Will Be Treated By The World