16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,
18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.
20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,
22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Persecution is a major reality to many. There are countries around the world in which preaching the Gospel and being a Christian is often dangerous and could end in either being beaten, thrown in jail and even killed. Jesus here is painting a realistic picture for His disciples that following after Him will bring about persecution from others around them. The reality is that the Gospel offends because it drives at the sins and hearts of those who do not follow after God.
The message of the Gospel stirs up conviction in those who hear it and most often, people do not want to be told that they are sinners and in need of saving. Jesus here is not trying to scare His disciples but rather equip and encourage them to stand firm in their faith. He gives them a hopeful message that when they are faced with persecution, God will provide for them the strength and means on how to respond.
There are those of us who are fortunate to live in a country in which persecution is not a major reality for us. However, there may come a time in which we might come into contact with someone who may challenge you on your faith and in that moment it is when we are tested to see if will stand up for Christ or give into our fear of what the world will think of us.
Jesus Christ endured the worst form of persecution and it is because of that, we are able to look to Him during times of trials and hardships. We can be encouraged that because He has already gone through the worst of it, He is able to give us strength to face persecution.
In an age where TV preachers are making millions and living a life of luxury, Jesus’ words about what will happen to His true disciples should be taken to heart. Those who are carrying the gospel to the world will more than likely incur trouble before they incur wealth. Not only did Jesus not guarantee our wealth but He assured us that we would suffer for His name.
In this world we must expect that we will face opposition. We must expect to run into people who want to harm us for our faith. But we must preach the good news in love and faith whether or no the audience is ready to receive the message.