Luke 10:3-4 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference, or, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. What’s the devil? It’s the misinterpretation of the text, "Go your way!" for some would say – ah – here is permission to do what I want – and then we imagine that "your way" is the same as my way. That’s what I mean – the devil in the details, for this is most certainly not a text about everyone doing their own thing, this is the text in which God calls all believers to "Go!" To go out into the great harvest, and to begin the task of making disciples of all nations. You see, God isn’t just calling people to believe and be saved, as though once saved, God will rapture all the believers away to heaven, and away from all earthly troubles – he is calling us to believe and be saved, that we might go forth into the world to prepare the world for the coming of the Lord – telling the world that the kingdom of God is near. Go! is a command, and the direction is into the harvest, and the promise is that God will be with us.
God with us is important, because going forth into the world is not without its dangers – and Jesus is very straightforward about telling us of the danger – Go! I am sending you as lambs in the midst of wolves. And that’s where the faith comes in once again. Where does your trust lie, if you know you are going as a lamb in the midst of wolves – shouldn’t you be thinking about some way to protect yourself – after all – wolves tend to eat lambs. You don’t want to be eaten, do you? Well, then how can you prepare yourself? I’ve got a pistol by my side, and a rifle on a sling, and a shotgun in my hand, and ammo belts across my shoulders – just let those wolves come – I’ll blast them clear to hell. But that’s not how Jesus is calling us to go forth, Go, there are wolves out there, but don’t carry anything.
So how great is your faith? Its one thing to say to believe, its quite another thing to actually rely on Jesus, to have faith that he will provide for you, even in dangerous situations. Remember that in the Lord’s Prayer, not only do we pray that God would give us this day, our daily bread – but we also pray that God would deliver us from evil – not that we would deliver, but that He would deliver – that’s what it means to have a savior, someone we can rely on to save us.
But if they are wolves, why can’t I just blast them? I can tell them first the kingdom of God is near, and then blast them. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? And that brings us to the next problem, we can’t see the big picture, we know there is supposed to be a harvest, but oftentimes we can’t see any evidence of there being anything to harvest. But we can see plenty of wolves that deserve to be blasted.
And that’s when we begin to see the great mystery, for God didn’t send his son into the world to save the saints – but to save sinners. And sinners in need of saving are going to look to most people just like wolves.
Remember how we talk about baptism making us a new creation, that the old sinful nature is drowned, and we rise, a new creation, to a new life which is ours in Christ, how we are born again – well, if you want to use the analogy – baptism is where God turns wicked wolves [sinners] into the children of God, his lambs.
So when God is sending your forth, telling you to carry nothing, asking you to rely on him, and reminding you that our urgent task is to tell that the kingdom of God is near.
And this is where we really begin to understand what faith is, and how God uses the word to work faith that makes us a new creation – for when we are sent forth, we are sent to the wolves, because God knows that among those wolves are some who will believe and be saved.
God sends us forth, so we can see his power to save, at work, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those who are being saved – this is why God has gathered us together in the church, so that we might more effectively tell the wonderful story of Jesus and his love. For we are sinners, and we have been saved, and we have been made a new creation.