Roses and Thorns: Matthew 10:16-22
““16) Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17) But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18) and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19) But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20) For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭16‬-‭20
The training now extends for the long haul past His work on the cross. How do we know that? Matthew 10:8 restricted the target audience to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but Mathew 10:18 suddenly includes the Gentiles. That extension to the mission was added in Matthew 28:18-20.
But notice also, Matthew 10:20 includes the inner ministry of the Holy Spirit. He suddenly embraced post Pentecost dynamics. “20) For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” Jesus emphasized the Fathers Promise of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:4-5 just prior to His ascension.
The training Jesus was giving His disciples extended into the church age. Everything transferred over with a few exceptions. First, the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection colored in the gospel of salvation, and second, He hinted at extending the invitation to the Gentiles. Paul devoted Romans chapter eleven to argue the phenomenon of the rejection of the Messiah by Israel and how it opened the gospel to the whole world.
Jesus was preparing these men for the long haul. Everything in this teaching also applied post Pentecost with the addition of the gospel going to all nations and the coming indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.
At the point of Matthew 10, Jesus had not yet revealed the mystery of His coming death and resurrection, nor any mention of the church. That happens in Matthew 16:13-28. Peter reacted to that revelation with such denial that He took Jesus aside and rebuked Him. (Matthew 16:22)
It is important to observe that Jesus was preparing His disciples for hard times, rejection and persecution. Yes, they would experience miracles, but some would also suffer martyrdom. Some of them would be brought before governors and kings as a testimony. They were being sent out as sheep among wolves.
Jesus was balancing the healings, miracles and supernatural provisions that would accompany the spread of the gospel with the doctrine of suffering. He talked about both sides of the coin equally.
Many Christians focus on Matthew 10:7-10 but ignore Matthew 10:16-23. They like the appeal of healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers and casting out demons; but they are blind to being sheep among wolves, hated by the world and delivered up to death by family members for the sake of Jesus and the gospel.
Jesus prepared His disciples for both sides of what awaited them. Following Jesus is not all roses, there are also thorns. He Himself experienced both sides.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global