Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….
Lambs among wolves. The image is frightening. I ask myself, “Why lambs?” There are plenty of other vulnerable animals that could be prey for wolves that Jesus could have used in these instructions to the 72 disciples as they departed on their mission. But Jesus chose to send his disciples out as lambs into the mouth of danger.
Living as a Christian is risky. Just before sending out the seventy-two, Jesus had foretold his own death and resurrection (9:21-22, 44-45), and he had told his apostles that they would bear a cross and lose their lives (9:23-25). We as Jesus’ followers belong to the Lamb who was slain (Rev 5:12), the Lamb who was led to the slaughter and opened not his mouth (Is 53:7), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), the Lamb without blemish or spot (1 Pt 1:19).
In a video as Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban, a tearful Afghan Christian pleaded with Christians around the world not to forget them. Andrew Boyd, spokesman for Christian rights organization Release International, claimed that the Taliban have been “searching door to door” for Christians. Foreign church leaders fled the country and Afghan Christian leaders’ activities were closely monitored by the Taliban. Amid all the bad news for Afghan Christians, Shoaib Ebadi, an Afghan-Canadian Christian and executive director of Square One World Media, told Voice of the Martyrs Canada that he sees “good news” for Afghan Christians. “The good news is that Afghan Christians are now leading these groups [small house church fellowships]. They are meeting in their homes, risking their lives every day … taking God’s Word to the people of Afghanistan. And they are the ones sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with their neighbors, families and friends.”
Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….
The defenseless lambs are sent out as he himself was sent by the Father. In the words of Catherine of Siena: “We are of such value to God that he came to live among us … and to guide us home. He will go to any length to seek us…. We can only respond by loving God for his love.”
“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (Jn 10:9). Lambs are free from burden or concern about going the right way, for they look to the One who is “The Way” to lead them to salvation.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Lambs have no power to force things to happen according to their own plans. In fact, this power to manipulate and overpower leads away from true life. The abundant life Jesus came to give us is received always as a gift, and comes to us unexpectedly under circumstances that would seem least opportune.
“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Lambs are often carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd to protect them on their way. And when they are lost he will find them and bring them back to the flock at the cost of his own life.
“When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice” (Jn. 10:4). Lambs simply keep their gaze on the Shepherd and abide wherever he leads them, wherever he is. They know that if they are where he is, no matter how risky it is, they are safe.
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