Read Matthew 10 -- 11
In Today's Reading:
Mission of the 12 apostles; John the Baptist's questions; Jesus pronounces judgment on unrepentant cities; great invitation
When He (Jesus) saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous (plentiful), but the laborers are few; Pray (appeal to) . . . the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth (out) laborers into His harvest (Matthew 9:36-38). In answer to this need, Jesus chose just 12 ordinary men whom He taught, saying: I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be . . . wise as serpents, and harmless (innocent) as doves (10:16-17). Wolves are the natural enemy of sheep. Although wolves (false prophets) in human form sometimes appear to be sheep (7:15), their indifference to His Word becomes apparent. Like Satan (4:5-6), they only quote the few verses that support their agenda.
The Christian is given a "sheep-like" nature, symbolic of innocence and dependence, not cowardice. Sheep, by their very nature, are in need of a shepherd or they will wander off and easily become prey to many enemies. Still worse, if one wanders, the entire flock may aimlessly follow. There is never safety in numbers for sheep; a shepherd is always necessary. All we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6) and need the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14) to guide us each day.
With Christ, the Christian can stand boldly in the face of the fiercest enemy. He assures us: Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). The Christian has no reason to expect kindness from a hostile world when his Master faced fierce enemies during His earthly life. Jesus said to His followers: If you were of (belonged to) the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. . . . they will also persecute you (John 15:19-20). Christian persecution, often in the form of pressure to compromise, always tests our sincerity. Times of peace too often cause the sheep to be indifferent and lukewarm. But, during persecution, the sheep discover they must depend on the Shepherd.
Later, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12). The kingdom will be entered by men and women who will not be intimidated or stopped by friends, family, peer pressure, or opposition. Our responsibility is to be like Jesus: Being reviled (verbally abused), we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat (I Corinthians 4:12-13).
10:25 Beelzebub = In Hebrew Baal-zebub was the fly god idol of the Philistines in Ekron (II Kings 1:2) and the name meant "dung god" or "filth god," since the fly finds its food in refuse. In Greek the spelling is Beelzebul and is translated as "lord of the house." The Greek spelling and definition are appropriate in this context as Jesus speaks of a household; 10:29 a farthing = a small coin of very little value; 10:35 at variance = in conflict, in a state of disagreement; 11:20 upbraid = to rebuke, reproach.
For Matthew 10:11, 35-36: See Micah 7:6. Matthew 11:5: See Isaiah 35:5; 61:1. Matthew 11:10: See Malachi 3:1. Matthew 11:23: See Ezekiel 26:20; 31:14; 32:18,24. Matthew 11:29: See Jeremiah 6:16.
Pray for Bible Pathway Prayer Partners · Government Official: Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE) · Country: Thailand (60 million) in Southeast Asia · Major languages: Thai and English · Limited freedom of Christian ministry; Buddhism is the state religion · 92% Buddhist; 4% Muslim; 2% Chinese folk-religionist; 1% Christian · Prayer Suggestion: Avoid hindrances to your prayer life (I Peter 3:7).
Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 15:4