Lambs among Wolves
by Fr. Robert D Smith
In the simplest things that Christ said and did, there is tremendous power. But He often says and does these things so simply and with such little fanfare that we can easily miss seeing the full strength of what is said and done. A perfect example of this is His instruction to the 72 disciples whom He sent out ahead to the towns He was about to visit. His words to them are much stronger than they might seem to be.
First, He tells them He is "...sending them like lambs among wolves." (Luke 10:3). From the point of view of the secular world, this is a strange instruction indeed. The secular world sees religion as no more than mere entertainment, and would fully expect Him to alert His disciples to the fact that the world in general means well, and that those who would reject them must still be seen as meaning well. With this phrase, " lambs among wolves", Christ is telling His disciples that most of the world will bitterly oppose what they have to say. The world is full not of misguided lambs, but of wolves.
"...greet no one along the way." (Luke 10:4). Why not? Because they are coming not to entertain, not to gather together with others in casual affability, but with words of life and death. A sick person being wheeled into the operating room of a hospital does not expect to spend time socializing with the doctor and all of his assistants. A coffee klatch is not appropriate to this kind of occasion!
"Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there..." (Luke 10:5-6). What is going on here? We would expect Christ to tell the disciples to assume that a peaceful person will indeed be in the house they enter. Not even to prepare for anything else. Yet, Christ tells them to watch out.
"Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you..." (Luke 10-11). Secular ideas of religion would expect, even demand that He say here not that "we shake off the dust against you" but that He tell the disciples to see that these people who had rejected them still were to be seen as meaning well anyway. Instead, Christ tells the disciples to deliver what is really a state of condemnation!
And, just after He has spoken about shaking off the dust, Christ adds, "...Yet know this: The Kingdom of God is at hand. (Luke 10:11). What is this? To whom is He speaking? Is this a private instruction to His disciples? No, it is part of what the disciples are to say to the towns which reject them. What does it mean? It means that the towns which have rejected the disciples have not done so on the basis of rejection of the morality taught by the disciples. And Christ here is telling the disciples to tell these towns that even though they have rejected the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven, that these laws, the Ten Commandments, still remain supreme even for them. They are still bound to observe them.
Then, still later in this same instruction, Christ says, "Whoever rejects you rejects Me. And whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." (Luke 10:16) An amazing, astounding statement. Not only those who reject Christ reject the Father, but those who reject the disciples, with all of their human foibles and weaknesses, reject the Father! Once they reject the disciples they cannot just say that they are merely approaching God in some other way. There is no other way for them to approach God legitimately.They will have already established that their own religion, whatever it is, will be a total shame.
Why? How can Christ say this? Because in rejecting the disciples, they reject the only morality that exists in this world. All other moralities that exist, contrary to God's Ten Commandments, are only canonizations of evil.
Tremendous, shocking power in all this, both to believers and to unbelievers.
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