Daily Word

Tough row to hoe |Matthew 10:16-20

16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Matthew 10:16-20 (NLT)

Setting expectations

Jesus is in the process of sending out His 12 disciples / apostles. He has given them instructions on what to do, where to go, how to behave and a bit about what to expect. Now He gets to the details of what they should expect. The time frame for this is probably for the present sending (to which they will return soon), for the rest of their lives (all, except John, are, by tradition, martyred) as well as for future disciples (like us). 

Sheep among wolves

Not a pleasant prospect for the disciples. Sheep and wolves are not friends. They can be expected to be torn up by the wolves…unless their Shepherd protects them. Then Jesus gives another animal example – snakes and doves. Snakes, even then, were symbols of shrewdness; doves, symbols of gentleness and purity. They needed to exhibit both characteristics as they do the work of ministry.

Tough row to hoe

Jesus does not hide the fact that His followers will be persecuted. Here, He makes it clear this is what they should expect as well as in other places (like John 16:33). Paul also not only set the bar for persecution (2 Corinthians 11:16-33), he told us we should all expect it. But, in the midst of it, we can take courage in verses like, “For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).

God’s mouthpiece

Probably the most encouraging aspect of this suffering is that it’s an opportunity to be directly used by God – to such an extent the Father will speak through His disciples. When (not if) they are persecuted, they will be brought before their accusers and God will give them peace, and the words to speak.


  • Are you suffering trials and suffering for your work for the Kingdom? Jesus is not talking about suffering for sinning, but for doing His will, following His call. Take heart that it’s “par for the course”, it will not last forever, it brings glory to the Lord, and will result, as quoted above, in glory.
  • Are you not suffering? Is life just smooth as glass? That probably means something in itself. God wants to use persecution and trials to shape us, test us, develop our faith, and witness to those around us. Don’t miss the opportunity. 
Farmer hoing his field. Image from Pxfuel.com

🤞 May I notify you of new posts?

They'll be sent out as soon as new POSTs are created, which has been daily (hence the name) for over 15 years.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content