Facing Persecution – Part I – Matthew 10 – By Ty Tamasaka
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:16-20 NIV
We sure love the great Bible verses like Romans 8:28, Philippians 4:13, or Jeremiah 29:11. We love the promises that God will work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. We love hearing we can do all things in Christ. We love the assurance that God has plans for our welfare and not for calamity, to give us a future and a hope. We love to claim those Bible promises as our own for today.
Then there are passages like Mathew 10:16-20. For some reason, no one claims this passage as their life verse. No one thinks these verses are for them. We don’t like Bible passages like Matthew 10:16-20. You won’t find these verses as bumper stickers or as refrigerator magnets.
We don’t like hearing that we will be “handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.” We don’t want to hear that on Jesus’ account, we will “be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.” No one claims verses 19-20 which says, “19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
In this passage Jesus freely, honestly, and openly teaches that His followers WILL face persecution.
In this passage Jesus communicates a three strong truths to His early missionaries.
1 – When you stand for righteousness, opposition will occur. Verse 17.
Making a stand for God will result in opposition. Period. If people persecuted Jesus, His followers will face persecution too. When we make movement toward advancing God’s Kingdom, and decreasing the influence of the enemy, the Devil will of course attack. Opposition will occur.
2 – Opposition brings opportunity. Verse 18.
Jesus assures that not only will opposition occur, but also that opposition will bring opportunity. It’s amazing that Jesus acknowledged so early on the influence His Gospel would have. He already knew that governors and kings would notice and arrest His followers. Who could have guessed this small group of radical, yet illiterate men would capture the attention of the world’s leaders? Jesus told them that their opposition would bring opportunity to speak to influential leaders of their day.
3 – The Lord put you there as a witness for Him. Verse 19.
Since opposition will come when we follow Jesus, we should not be discouraged. Since opposition brings opportunity, we should not fear. Verse 19 tells us we are facing opposition in order to be a witness for Him. This is disheartening, until we get to the last point…
4 – When you are persecuted, God Himself, will speak through you. Verse 20.
When we are persecuted, we are reminded to trust the promise that God Himself will provide strength and guidance. This is important to recognize. God could have promised protection coming from the government or the church. He could have promised words from the angels. None of those would suffice. Instead, He promised “the Spirit of your Father” will speak through you.
Jesus assured persecuted believers that in their moment of greatest need, “the Spirit of your Father” will speak through you. This passage is not offering justification for poor preparation for the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Instead it offers a promise of strength and guidance for the persecuted who have an opportunity to testify of Jesus.
Are you facing persecution for your faith? Thank God for the opportunity to be a witness for Him and trust God to speak through you.
Lord Jesus, You are clear that in these verses that being a “sent one” for You comes at a high cost. Standing for righteousness brings opposition. Opposition brings opportunity to testify of You. When I am given the opportunity to testify of You, the great part happens. I can trust Your Holy Spirit to defend me. Lord grant me courage to live as a “sent one” for You. In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.