Commentaries
English
Matthew
  
b) The Risks of Preaching
(Matthew 10:16-25)
16Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Mark13:9-13; Luke10:3;21:12-17; Romans16:19; Ephesians5:15)


What if Christ’s parable about sending sheep in the midst of ravenous wolves came true? What would happen? And how long would the sheep remain alive? The wolves would devour them in a moment and leave nothing that is worth mentioning of them.
It looked unkind of Christ to expose His servants to so much danger, who had left everything to follow Him. But he knew that the glory reserved for His sheep in the great day would be recompense sufficient for sufferings as well as service. But Christ sends them forth, and that is comforting. For He who sends them forth will protect them and care for them until they have finished their task. But that they might know the worst, He tells them exactly what they must expect.
Thus, Christ sends us out into the world of our day. But if we live or die, Christ remains responsible for us. We are not alone, He is with us, His name is over us, and His power surrounds us. When you obey Jesus and preach in your neighborhood, He will protect you, take notice of your service and care for you with His divine wisdom. The danger exists, but the Lord exists too, and in Him we trust. In order not to leave them alone, Christ gives valuable advice to His followers in the midst of this desolate world, which is filled with wolves.
Christ asks His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But it is rather to be taken as a precept, recommending to us that the wisdom of the prudent, which is to understand His way, is useful at all times, but especially in times of distress, tribulation and suffering. Therefore because you are exposed to dangers as sheep in the midst of wolves, “Be wise as serpents.” Not wise as foxes whose cunning is to deceive others, but as serpents, whose policy is only to defend themselves and to look out for their own safety.
In the cause of Christ, we must hold on to life and all its comforts lightly, but must not be wasteful of them. It is the wisdom of the serpent to secure his head, that it may not be broken. Let us be wise, not to pull troubles upon ourselves and upon others and let us keep silence in an evil time and not give offence, if we can help it.
In return, Christ asks His followers to be harmless as doves. Be mild and meek and dispassionate, not only do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill will. Be without gall, as doves are. This must always go along with the former. They were sent out in the midst of wolves, therefore must be as wise as serpents.
The serpent symbolizes Satan, but a dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Therefore a Christian should be wiser and more careful than the devils, but in the holiness of the Holy Spirit, without wickedness or blame. This remark needs prayer and faith that we will not become clever as Satan and devour ourselves in his spirit. But on the contrary, let the Holy Spirit sanctify us to the uttermost so that we follow Jesus closely.