Jesus warned his disciples whom he had chosen to preach the kingdom that they would meet with opposition to the kingdom along the way. While they were to prepare the Jews for his kingdom, there were many who would resist them. They’d be like sheep in the midst of wolves. So here he told them how to handle the opposition. By:
1. Wisdom 10:16 – According to Matt 12:42 and 13:54, wisdom was one of Jesus’ outstanding characteristics. Thus, he advised his disciples to be wise as serpents in the midst of the wolves. The serpent is wise in its defense and in its capture of prey. A rattlesnake, for instance, will stiffen itself like a rod leaning on a rock to escape an indigo passing underneath it on the ground. A certain serpent in the desert buries itself beneath the sand awaiting its unsuspecting prey (2 Cor 12:16).
2. Harmlessness 10:16 – According to Matt 12:19-20, Jesus was not an insurrectionist nor would he threaten to kill to force people to follow him (like Islamic terrorists do). Thus, he instructed his disciples to be harmless as doves. Peter echoed this in 1 Pet 4:14-15.
3. Prudence 10:17-18 – Jesus warned his disciples to beware of men, because they would turn them in to the authorities. That didn’t mean they were supposed to compromise their message in order to get along with everybody. That meant they were to expect trouble and to be on the lookout as they preached (Acts 4:1-3; 4:18-21; 5:17-18; 9:23-25; 16:20-24; etc.).
4. Inspiration 10:19-20 – Jesus further warned his disciples not to think about what to say in their own defense. The Holy Spirit would give them the words to speak when they were asked to testify (Acts 6:9-15). Some preachers try to use these verses to justify their laziness in not preparing sermons. These verses are not about preparing sermons for a congregation; they are about defendants testifying before councils and government officials.
5. Endurance 10:21-22 – The disciples not only faced trouble from religious leaders and politicians but also from immediate family members. The trouble was motivated by hatred (Jn 15:18). The Lord reminded them to endure it unto the end. This statement matches Matt 24:13, showing you that if the Jews had received Jesus as their Messiah following his ascension, the tribulation would have started then. The end is a reference to the 2nd Advent, as seen in the next verses.
6. Spreading Out 10:23 – When persecution arose, the disciples were to pull out of town and go on to another city. Persecution certainly got them moving (Acts 8:1; 16:36-39; 17:13-15). Notice the reference to the 2nd Coming.
7. Humility 10:24-25 – The disciples needed to remember not to expect better treatment than the Lord received (Jn 13:16; Jn 15:20). This was to keep them from getting lifted up in pride.
8. Courage 10:26-31 – The disciples needed courage to keep from being afraid to preach (Jer 1:17-19). After all, if they were falsely accused like he was it would be revealed and known in time (Acts 5:29-33). They really had no need to worry because Jesus said:
a. They can’t kill you (the soul) they can only kill your body [10:28]. The soul of a saved person goes to be with the Lord at his death (2 Cor 5:8) and his body goes to the grave awaiting its resurrection (1 Cor 15:50-55).
b. Your Father’s in charge of you – nothing’s going happen unless he lets it [10:29-31].