“Go your way. Behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
That is a startling verse when you really think about it. This whole chapter begins with Jesus saying, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” He’s talking about the need for the good news of the kingdom to spread in the world. The harvest is plentiful. People are ready, waiting to hear. Even the harvest all throughout scripture is used as a picture of judgment, of coming judgment. And the reality is, judgment is coming in the world. All people will either go to an eternity of everlasting life or an eternity of everlasting suffering. And so the harvest is plentiful. People need to hear, are waiting to hear. The laborers are few. So Jesus says, “Pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers into his harvest field,” so ask the Lord to send out all kinds of people to make the gospel known. So it sounds like, “Okay, yes, let’s go, let’s do this.” And then Jesus says, “Go your way. I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
Whatever risk it involves, let’s pray that God will send out laborers into the harvest realizing that we are lambs being sent out in the midst of wolves.
Well, that just took a turn. Anybody who was excited to be sent out at first is now having second thoughts, right? Like a lamb in the midst of wolves? A lamb doesn’t go wandering into the midst of wolves looking for luxury, expecting a good outcome. A lamb goes wandering into the midst of wolves expecting to lose it’s life. And this is where we realize that the call to follow Christ, the call to go into the harvest field, to proclaim the gospel, is not a call to ease. It’s not a call to popularity. It’s not a call to comfort. It’s not a call to success in the eyes of this world or acclaim in the eyes of this world.
So for followers of Jesus, we need to leave behind all of those expectations. Acclaim in the eyes of this world, success in the eyes of this world, popularity, ease, comfort. This is not what we’re living for, none of those things. And we should expect to have none of those things when we follow Jesus. Instead, we should expect to lose our lives in this world, figuratively, maybe physically. The number is many of those who have gone into the world proclaiming the gospel and have lost their lives for it, starting with most of the disciples expanding throughout the rest of the new testament and expanding throughout the history of the church, where Revelation tells us, “There are martyrs below the throne of God who are calling out for God’s justice to finally reign.” And God is saying to them, “Wait until their number is complete,” meaning, there are still more martyrs to come, still more lambs to lose their lives in the midst of wolves.
Now, that may sound extreme, and most of us might think, “Okay, I don’t think I’m going to be a martyr,” but here’s the picture. Jesus has called us all to lay down our lives to proclaim the gospel. So by God’s grace, for most of us listening to this, that doesn’t involve risking your life in the country or culture where you live. I’m in my country, and I can proclaim this gospel freely. Now I may risk popularity, may lose the approval of others. And that’s one of the reasons, maybe one of the predominant reasons, many times we don’t share the gospel because we are afraid of what others might think about us. We’re afraid we might lose some kind of standing with them or might prove uncomfortable.
Oh, we’re like lambs being sent in the midst of wolves. Oh, this should put the possibility of having uncomfortable, awkward conversation into perspective. We’re called to lay down our lives, to lose our lives if necessary, to proclaim this gospel. So God help us to risk potential awkwardness. God help us to risk our reputation. And this is just the start of what Jesus has called us to. And then for brothers and sisters around the world who might be listening to this who are facing great costs, know, know that you are doing exactly what Jesus has called us to do, as you go and in the midst of wolves and you share the gospel and risked your life and risked your family at risk of persecution, at risk of imprisonment, at risk of death.
This is what Jesus has called us to, to love wolves, to love the lost, to love the harvest so much that we will lay down our lives to go and proclaim the good news of his grace. So God, please may it be so. Help us to go today, right where we live, right around us. Wherever we are in the world, help us to go. Whatever risk this involves, whatever small level of risk or large level of risk, God help us to be faithful today, we pray, to proclaim the gospel, to go into the harvest field and make the good news of your love known.
And God, we pray, especially for those of us who are in places where that risk is very small, we pray you would use our lives to take this gospel to places where the risk is greater. God, we’ve been praying day after day after day for peoples in Pakistan, today for the Manchu people in Pakistan, another 2.7 million people. Not likely any followers of Jesus among the Manchu people of Pakistan and India. God, we know it’s not easy to get the gospel into Pakistan. It’s not easy to spread the gospel through Pakistan that it likely won’t happen without much costs to some people. So God, we pray that you would send out laborers there and you would strengthen those labors, give them boldness, give us boldness of where those laborers are calling to go into Pakistan and make the gospel known.
Oh God, please help us to give our lives toward this end right where we live, wherever you lead, to give our lives, lay down our lives, lay down the acclaim, the success, the applause, the accolades of this world, the comforts of this world, popularity in this world. God, please help us to lay it all down today to make your gospel known and to take your gospel where it’s not yet been heard. God, help us to be faithful to follow you as lambs into the midst of wolves. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
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