February 17 I Friday

Leviticus 21-22

Matthew 28



“When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”     —Matthew 9:36


Jesus was going through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion because He saw these people longing for the truth—the reality of who He is—but they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. At this moment, He led His disciples into a time of intercession and sent His disciples with a specific mission. Jesus said, “…Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matthew 10:6-7). Additionally, Jesus gave them authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and raise the dead.

       To people that were harassed and helpless, it was good news that the kingdom of heaven had come, the long-awaited Messiah had arrived. But near the end of commissioning, Jesus made a shift and warned His disciples, despite the fact that they were being sent out with the message of good news and endowed with the power to do miracles, there were going to be some people in the communities that would resist their message. Hence, Jesus told them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” The disciples were probably excited to be sent with the power of Jesus to perform miracles as they shared the good news, but Jesus’s statement about being like sheep among wolves must have caught their attention. He was using a metaphor that everyone understands, because we all know exactly what happens when sheep are among wolves.

       Yet, Jesus went on to explain how they were to conduct themselves when they were in the wolf’s den: “to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” What does this mean? To be shrewd is to be thoughtful, wise or discerning. Snakes, typically, do not want to attack; they are actually creatures that would like to avoid conflict at all cost. To be innocent is to be pure, blameless, not mixed with evil. Doves are peaceful creatures that do not stir up trouble or go looking for a fight. Altogether, Jesus was sending out His disciples and telling them, “I am sending you out to a culture that might oppose the good news, so practice wisdom and do not go looking for trouble. As much as it depends on you, be a person of peace.”

       Just as Jesus sent His disciples, He is sending us out with His good news. May we have wisdom as we go, not looking for trouble, but keeping the peace.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for the good news of salvation. Please grant me the wisdom to be a person of peace as I share Your gospel with the world.

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