Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.
Such is the following passage
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ – Luke 10:2-5 ESV
Jesus sent out the disciples as lambs amongst wolves. Lambs. The folks being described as lambs in this passage are not the future apostles, since verse 1 speaks of the Lord appointing 72 others. These would include those that, relatively speaking, were on the fringe of the group following the Master. Not the core group of Peter, James, John and the rest we know of.
So when the Lord describes them as sheep in the midst of wolves, what is He communicating? He is communicating danger! Danger for the ones He is sending out.
These appointed ones are as sheep in the midst of wolves. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be near wolves fully armed with Glocks! The term ravenous comes to mind when I think of wolves.
Definitely Jesus will provide these 72 appointees direction on how to avoid being attacked. He must be implying that they are to defend themselves as sheep do. So how do sheep defend themselves?
Sheep defend themselves primarily by remaining in flock. Numbers are the game for sheep, and to remain with the group brings security to a sheep.
But Jesus is sending these appointees out two by two. He isn’t sending out groups of “sheep”. He is sending each of them out with a solitary partner. This natural defense associated with sheep therefore is greatly reduced, if not removed by being separated into teams of only two.
As I listened to this passage I noticed that the translation spoke of a lamb, and not a sheep. Speaking of the appointees as being sent as lambs instead of sheep further speaks of the defenselessness of the ones being sent out.
As for the wolves, as might be expected, there is no reference in the Word to wolves as being kind, truthful or gentle. Adjectives such as ravening and grievous are used to describe wolves!
Little lambs in the midst of ravenous wolves! What a picture!
I certainly can not claim that Jesus was whitewashing the situation. He laid it out in stark description, and further spoke of reducing them to utter dependency on those they met. He defined their behavior in the midst of wolves as being peacemakers.
Now I don’t think Jesus is telling them every person they came across is to be considered a wolf. Not at all. Yet that is another challenge, for they were to be open to all, willing to offer peace to those they met. They were to understand the general danger, but to be specifically peaceful to any they came across.
None of this behavior speaks of a defensive position, of an ability to be self protected. Consider hearing this direction from the Lord. I know I would have serious doubts about any success, or possible surviving, since He describes me as a frail lamb amongst wolves!
Also, consider if the appointees may have been ignorant of the situation they were being called to. If it was early in the ministry of the Lord, many may have considered this description as mere hyperbole. According to a timeline I found on the web, and assuming it’s accuracy, this sending out was relatively late in the ministry of the Lord. If they had followed Jesus for any time, they saw the reactions of the religious powerful, and had been warned multiple times of trials and suffering ahead.
But back to my original thought. What natural defense does the lamb have? It seems the flocking defense has been stripped away, and the reference to the youth of the lamb speaks of innocence.
But a lamb has one defense. A Shepherd.
Looking behind this instruction, even beyond the intended purpose of preparing the neighboring cities for the eventual entrance of the Messiah, these appointees would look back on their experience and realize they had a Shepherd protecting them, guiding them and providing for them. This event had a great impact on the larger group, and caused much joy in the immediate return.
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” – Luke 10:17 ESV
So where does this take me?
This passage reminds me of the Shepherds care of His sheep, and more importantly, as a lamb before Him, to drop our defenses in order to realize His protection, guidance and strength.
It must have been scary for those lambs. It is no less scary for us.
We must follow with trust and wisdom that only He can provide.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.