Prey and Preditor

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 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; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:16-23)

We’re going to suffer. Jesus expects us to. When Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to proclaim the Good News and to heal people, he warned them that they were defenseless.

What Jesus described to them was, and ever has been, the experience of the Christian church. Without end, portions of the body of Christ have always experienced persecution, from the time of the Romans until the modern era. Usually that opposition came from the outside, but sometimes it came from inside their own families. And how did Jesus suggest his followers respond to persecution? To endure it if necessary, and to flee from it if possible.

Jesus told his disciples that they would not pass through all the cities of Israel before “the son of Man comes.” Although some take Jesus’ words as a prophesy regarding the second coming, the context seems to suggest something else. The twelve went among several villages in Galilee, then Jesus and his disciples went to Jerusalem and Jesus was crucified. Therefore Jesus’ crucifixion and the resurrection were the “coming” Jesus was speaking of: the redemption of humanity, the beginning of the kingdom of God in the hearts of people everywhere. Since Jesus endured the cross and lives with us today, we can endure anything.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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