By Stephen Terry
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among
wolves. Luke 10:3, NIV
sit in our ecclesiastical conclaves of Christianity, this command from Jesus
seems pretty radical. After all, aren’t
we supposed to avoid contact with the world to avoid contamination and the
subsequent loss of our salvation? Better to stay in the fold and work on my own
perfection than to endanger it by exposing myself to the world and its salacious
temptations. Surely, Jesus would not want to see that happen, would He?
command to the seventy, or seventy-two, depending on which Greek text you are
translating from, is an echo of the command to all followers of Christ found in
Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore go and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to
obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the
very end of the age." NIV But there is more here
than simply a command.
book, “Christ’s Object Lessons,” Ellen White wrote on page 333 that “Whatever is to be done at His command may
be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.”
This is what happened with this passage in Luke. The disciples returned,
glorifying God at the power that was manifested when they went forth as Jesus
had indicated. This begs the question: are we missing a blessing when we remain
cloistered in our churches instead of going forth to reach our fellow human
beings with the love of God?
But what of the dangers? What of the
temptations? How will we survive? Those “wolves” are scary!!! Some of them even have tattoos and wear
piercings!!! And the words I might hear!!!
And the music, worst of all the music!!! Surely God would not want to expose
me to that!!!
verse in Luke leaves no doubt that God is fully aware of the presence of the
wolves, and still He says “Go.” But what does it mean to go? First of all we
should notice that He is not sending us to the wolves but to the lost
sheep. While it is necessary to travel
among the wolves to reach these sheep, we are not sent to the wolves. This is
not our mission. If we lose sight of the mission and focus on the wolves, we
will fail. Also, it is our mission we must focus on, not on anyone else’s. The wolves have a mission, too. Their mission
is to eat sheep. Obviously, if they succeed in theirs, we fail in ours. There must be a way to prevent them from
though, let’s look a little more closely at who is involved in this mission
besides the wolves. There’s the sheep. Lost sheep to be exact. (See Matthew 10:6) Do they know they are lost? Maybe. But they are among the wolves also, and while they
may or may not know they are lost, they may be worried by their circumstances.
They may have seen other sheep disappear and noticed the wolves getting
fatter. They may have tried very hard to
please the wolves hoping to be spared. Yet in the end, the wolves never abandon
their mission, and all attempts to conform to the wolves wishes are
futile. Lamb chops are on the menu and
always will be for the wolves.
about us? The verse says that we are “lambs.” Wait a minute!!! Lambs? We are not even full grown sheep. If the sheep are in
danger, what can a lamb do? If a wolf has a choice between a tough old ewe and
a tender young lamb, what will he choose? This mission looks more foolish by
the minute. Yet, there is a purpose.
sheep have been living among the wolves. They probably have learned something
about wolves by now to have survived until now.
They may have learned you cannot trust a wolf. If God had sent us as powerful creatures
capable of killing wolves and anything else that threatened, how would the
sheep know they could trust us? They
might run from us, also. No, he had to
send their own kind. They could trust another sheep,
sending another sheep could be a problem as well. No doubt, the sheep had all
sorts of ideas for avoiding the wolves.
Some seemed to work better than others.
And if one had survived this long, why would it listen to a new idea
from another sheep. Maybe that sheep was trying to assert itself to lead the
flock astray. No, it had to be a lamb. A
lamb is no threat to anyone. Only a lamb
could carry the message and be heard.
a sheep might be tempted to take the glory for delivering the message. A sheep might even see itself as the
deliverer. But a lamb could never assert
itself like that. A lamb would only
carry one simple message that could save all the lost sheep. “I know where the
Shepherd is.” That knowledge would
electrify the sheep with hope. The
wolves did not fear the sheep, but they certainly feared the Shepherd.
wolves would not be afraid of the lamb. In fact, they would probably tell
themselves “I can kill and eat this tiny creature anytime I want.” Since the lamb was not threat, it could get
through to the sheep. After all, what is one more sheep to wolves except more
mutton for later.
The power in the lamb is not in itself, but in its message. The message that not only does the lamb know where the Shepherd is but that He is on His way.
lamb’s presence is a symbol of the Shepherd’s presence to the sheep. In a sense
the Shepherd is already there. As King David put it, “Even though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your
staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4, NIV As the lamb walked among
the wolves, seeking the lost sheep, Jesus was with it. Nothing that the lamb encountered was unknown
to the Shepherd. This was a witness to
the sheep. That witness said to them that
if the lamb can survive the wolves, maybe they can, too. They could begin to trust the Shepherd
because the lamb had trusted Him first.
presence of the Shepherd leant power to the lamb’s story; not power to destroy
wolves but power to heal sheep. The
power to heal and comfort belongs to the lambs who
follow Jesus, but the power to destroy evil belongs to God alone. Moses taught this truth before the Israelites
went through the sea on dry land. He said “The
LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14, NIV
The battle against the wolves belongs to God alone.
But we can have a part in saving the sheep. Our part is to bring healing,
comfort and deliverance by bringing the good news of the Shepherd to the sheep.
We must come humbly as young lambs before fully grown sheep. We know that the Shepherd is the Deliverer
and not we ourselves. We have no
strength to even save ourselves. We cannot save the sheep. Only the Shepherd
can. If we place all of our trust in the
Shepherd, others will, too.
Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of
you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the
ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it,
he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors
together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the
same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7,