By: C.A. Teunis
Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
Luke 10: 3-6
Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
Matt. 10: 15
A Commission With an Encouragement
And there is the commission to advance the gospel.
This commission remains.
Jesus takes the responsibility for this dangerous situation upon Himself.
The word ‘lambs’ is an image of defencelessness.
The word ‘wolves’ is an image of grim enemies of the congregation (Acts 20:29,30).
‘Wolves’ will also arise amidst the church. Slowly but surely. Or suddenly.
But always unexpectedly, because they first behaved as a faithful shepherd.
The gospel meets resistance, unbelief and enmity. Just as the Lord Jesus (Luke 4:28-30).
The LORD gathers His sheep through the proclamation of His Word. Not through human power, but through His Spirit (Zach. 4:6).
The message of the gospel must be advanced without making use of outward appearance. Go as you are.
Jesus Christ fulfills His strength in human weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
His strength is unconquerable.
We may trust upon this.
Eternal Salvation- Yes or No?
The gospel of the Lord offers peace. That is joy, eternal salvation.
Everyone who receives and holds onto this joyful message is a child of the peace.
However, if this joyful message is rejected, a separation comes.
This can happen in marriage. Or in family. Or among relatives. Or among friends and acquaintances. It certainly happens in the church (1 Cor 11:19).
The Kingdom of God is Near
Through the coming of Jesus to the world the Kingdom of God has come near the people. Very close. This applies to everyone that reads the Bible and hears the faithful preaching.
Therefore Christ gives the commission to clearly proclaim the pure gospel.
Because of the seriousness of this: throwing away the joyful message is throwing away eternal salvation.
We may not participate in the rejection and twisting of the gospel. Even the dust that clings to heresy we will shake off: sever all connections with self-willfulness.
The Kingdom of God is Reality
The reality of the Kingdom of God is not made undone through self-willfulness and unbelief of people.
This is clear from the history of Sodom. Sodom was a breeding nest for godlessness and immorality. It was destroyed by God’s punishing justice.
For the wicked sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment than for those who knew the gospel and rejected it.
Capernaum was the place where Jesus lived, so that it was called His city (Matt. 9:1). The people certainly knew Him. But all human pride disappears in the realm of the dead, even if they knew Jesus so well, just like the rich man, see Luke 16:23.
Only Those Who Believe in the Son of God Have Eternal Life
We are called to go where the Word is faithfully accepted, where the sacraments are purely administered, where church discipline is carried out in an appropriate manner (article 29, Belgic Confession).
The bond of faith is above the bond of blood, or any other earthly bond.
Jesus gives the commission to not allow yourself to be influenced by impure proclamation or application of His Word. We may not participate in such sin.
He desires to protect His sheep against self-willfulness.
Everyone who believes in the Son of God has eternal life, but everyone who does not believe the Son, will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him (John 3:36).
God’s faithful children will not become like Sodom and Gomorrah, even if the LORD leaves to us a very small remnant (Is. 1:9).