Can you imagine the look on the disciples faces when they heard Jesus say, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16) Sheep are among the most helpless of all domesticated animals. They are also some of the most senseless. Harmless noises can send them into a frenzy, and when they face danger, they have no defense mechanism. All they can do is run, and unfortunately they are slow. As a result, the dumbest thing a sheep can do is to wander into a pack of wolves. So why in the world was Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20), telling His sheep to hang out with wolves?
Jesus was saying to His disciples then – and, by implication, to you and me now – “I am sending you to dangerous places, where you will find yourself in the middle of evil, vicious people. And you will be there by My design.” Jesus told them, “Go to great danger, and let it be said of you what people would say of sheep wandering into the middle of wolves. ‘They’re crazy! They’re clueless! They have no idea what kind of danger they are getting into! This is what it means to be My disciples.'”
We don’t think like this. We say things such as, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” We think, “If it’s dangerous, God must not be in it. If it’s risky, if it’s unsafe, if it’s costly, it must not be God’s will.” But what if these factors are actually the criteria by which we determine something is God’s will? What if we began to look at the design of God as the most dangerous option before us? What if the center of God’s will is in reality the most unsafe place for us to be?
These are the kind of questions that Matthew 10 poses for each of us. Are we willing, as the first disciples were, to be the first to go into danger and possibly even to die there in order that those who come behind us might experience the fruit of our sacrifice – not just of our labor but of our sacrifice (as in die there among the wolves). What if such sacrifice is exactly what it will take for many of the unreached people in the world who are presently hostile to the Gospel to one day surrender their hearts to Jesus?
There’s a question to ponder for the rest of the day! And one we really do need to think deeply about. The eternal destiny of millions if not billions hang in the balance.