Jesus continues sending his apostles out with words of encouragement. Or, rather, just the opposite. Kind of a buzzkill actually.
And there are a couple reasons we get the impression that Jesus is looking out beyond this mission into the future.
- He mentions being taken before authorities, both Jewish and gentile. Since the mission is not to the gentiles, he must be looking ahead.
- There is a sort of eschatological sense by the time we get to verse 23.
Jesus wants his followers to be wise and innocent when dealing with opposition. They are in a position of no power at all and all they control is their own activity. They need to be ready to suffer for their faith.
It is a narrow road and an uphill, arduous walk, this journey of the kingdom.
They are not to worry about legal defense, but allow God to take care of them.
This is not strictly about this passage, but maybe we should talk about how it is misused. I’ve heard of preachers who don’t prepare sermons because they believe God will help them say what they are supposed to say when the time comes. This is not about that. A preacher should prepare so he can feed his sheep properly.
Along the same lines, I’ve never like the language of “God gave me this message”, or even “God gave me this song”. In the first place, most of what I’ve heard following that statement made me question it immediately. Don’t blame God for your bad preparation or for your lack of talent and creativity. Secondly, it implies that you have a special connection with God that is above that of the average Christian in the pew. And I doubt that.
Anyway, God will definitely help in times of trouble. No doubt about that.
The disciples should expect to be treated in the same ways Jesus was treated. And, I suppose, disciples today should expect to be treated the way Jesus would be treated, and is treated, in our own culture.
People ignore Jesus. We should expect to be ignored.
People think Jesus is outdated. They think the same of us.
People think the teachings of Jesus are harmful in a pluralistic, post-modern society. They think we also are harmful.
It’s not too surprising. Jesus predicted it 2000 years ago. My readers will probably not be truly persecuted, but some Christians definitely are today. And we will all suffer for following Jesus.
But it’s about the kingdom of God and it’s worth the effort. Let his kingdom come.