Lesson 173-February 20. 2019
Lesson: “Sheep in Wolf Country” Part One
Scripture: Matthew 10:16-19
Lesson Goal: To better understand the truth and reality that Jesus calls us to serve as sheep among the wolves.
Introduction: In the words of Charles Swindoll, “Jesus also prepared His men for the inevitable. Jesus en- couraged the Twelve to put rejection behind them and to pursue their cause whatever opportunities arose. He counseled the Twelve: Toughen up and stay focused.”
Swindoll continues, “that is excellent advice to all who minister today. I’ve said for years that the best combi- nation for a servant of God is a tender heart and a tough hide.”
Question: Why is it important as a minister to have a tender heart?
Question: Why is it equally important that a minister have a tough hide? (If you have difficulty with this an- swer you might want to ask a ministers’ kid or spouse).
Matthew 10:16a—Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
“Behold”-Instructions for the disciples to pay close attention. “Listen up!” What is to follow is vitally im- portant. Jesus had spoken of the lost unbelieving multitudes as “sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
“Sheep are perhaps the most dependent, helpless, and stupid of all domesticated animals. They are as often panicked by harmless things as by those that are dangerous. And when real danger comes, they have no natu- ral defense except running and they are not very good at that.” MacArthur
In the book A Shepherd, it looks at the Twenty-third Psalm (great book), Philip Keller gives many insights from his long experience as a shepherd in Canada. He states “that sheep are so indiscriminate in their choice of vegetation to eat, it is necessary to carefully protect them from eating poisonous weeds. Because they are highly vulnerable to weather extremes and to infections and disease, they must be regularly and individually checked for insects and parasites that can harm them. Flies buzzing around their eyes and ears have been known to so irritate and frighten sheep that they beat their heads against trees or rocks until they are dead. Sometimes flies will lay eggs in a sheep’s eyes and ultimately cause blindness. In trying to escape real or im- agined danger, sheep will sometimes panic into a blind stampede sometimes losing their lives from utter ex- haustion. But the sheep’s greatest enemy is predators, the worst of which in Palestine and in many other parts of the world has always been wolves”.
In todays passage, Jesus said, “Behold, (listen up) I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves”. In these words Jesus is giving a graphic warning concerning the rejection and persecution that His disciples would face. Their task would not be an easy task. They would be ministering among wolves. They would find themselves in the midst of hurtful and harmful people. Jesus wants His disciples to understand the cost of discipleship and
serving Him. Jesus did not avoid or escape opposition and persecution and neither would His followers. Please read the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:29.
Question: What does the term “pastor-shepherd” mean?
Question: What does this term mean to you and how does it relate to you as a member of MHBC?
Matthew 10:16b-Therefore be wise as serpents (snakes) and harmless as doves. “wise”- understanding, smart, cunning
“harmless”- pure, patient, faithful, innocent
When we go in obedience to Christ, we go with a message of love and compassion even to an audience that includes those who violently oppose us and our Lord. Some who hear will respond and receive the message, others will reject and even seek to harm the message and messenger. Jesus tells His disciples to be alert and on guard for all types of people can seek to harm the Lord’s work and His workers.
Question: How can we (His followers, the Church) be alert and on guard for those that seek to harm the Lord’s mission and work?
Matthew 10:17-But beware of many for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in the syna- gogues.
Not only would the disciples face unwanted welcome from some (v14) but Jesus in verse 17 warns of overt hostility. The disciples were to remain pure, innocent, holy but they were not to be overly naïve.
“of men” Some will “deliver” hand over, betray. They will sell you out to the authorities who will violently harm and persecute you in their “councils and scourge you in their synagogues.” These disciples would find themselves standing before the Jewish authorities (v17) but also before the governmental authorities.
(v18) You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. Jesus’ disciples would be persecuted at the local level all the way to the higher levels of authorities. ***(v18b) for my sake, on account of me, on my account.
Question: What have you ever suffered by the hands of persecutors “for my sake,” on account of Jesus?
Question: What can persecution do to the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ? What are some of the possible outcomes of persecution in the life of the believer?
(v19) But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak. Jesus is telling His disciples that as they serve, share, and minister in His name they will have everything they need to complete their God given assignment.
Many followers of Jesus have never experienced the truth of Jesus’ presence so powerfully. “We live in pre- sumptive safety in this world, being surrounded by its comforts. Christ’s presence and power aren’t needed in such situations or so we think. But when you go to danger, when you’re a sheep in the midst of wolves, you need His presence and power more than anything else. You’re acutely aware of your utter dependence on Him.” (Platt)
Question: At what moment in your life or has there ever been a moment when you realized your total depend- ency on Him? Please prayerfully explain.