Mat_10:16. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
It is a strange errand that you are sent upon — not as dogs to fight with the wolves. Yet you are to fight with them, but you are to go as lambs in the midst of wolves. Expect, therefore that they will rend you. Bear much, for ever in that you shall conquer. If they kill you, you shall be honoured in your death. As I have often said, the fight looks very unequal between sheep and wolves, yet at the present moment there are vastly more sheep in the world than wolves, the sheep having outlived the wolves. In this country at any rate, the last wolf is gone, and the sheep, with all their weaknesses, continue to multiply. “That is due,” you say, “to the shepherd.” And to him shall your safety and your victory be due. He will take care of you. “I send you forth as sheep among wolves.” But do not, therefore, provoke the wolves. “Be wise as serpents.” Have a holy prudence. “Be as harmless as doves,” but not as silly as doves
Mat_10:17-19. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
And very remarkable were the answers given by the martyrs to those who persecuted them. In some cases they were altogether unlettered men, feeble women, unused to the quibbles and the catches which ungodly wise men use, and yet with is holy ability they answered all their adversaries and often stopped their mouths. It is wonderful what God can make of the weakest of men when he dwelleth in them, and speaks through them.
Mat_10:20-21. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Strange venom of human nature. It never grows so angry against anything as against God’s truth. Why is this? False religions will tolerate one another but they will not tolerate the religion of Christ. Is not this all accounted for by that old dark saying at the gates of Eden, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman — between thy seed and her seed.” That enmity is sure to come up as long as the world stands.
Mat_10:22-23. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
They had not been able to get all through Palestine before the destruction of Jerusalem. Perhaps we shall scarcely have been able to preach the gospel in every part of the world before our Master’s speedy footsteps shall be heard.