3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
What does that mean? It really doesn’t sound as if it’s going to end well — at least, not for everyone.
Jesus doesn’t explain it. The image is sharp and memorable, but it could mean many different things, depending on how you see lambs and wolves.
It could mean:
- Lambs are vulnerable, in danger from the wolves
- Lambs are carefree, frolicking happily amongst Mr Grumpies
- Lambs are powerless, easily overpowered by the wolves
- Lambs only chance to survive in the midst of wolves is to be invisible, unnoticed
- Lambs are innocent, having to take great care about the sin around them
But what did Jesus mean?
“lamb” is harder to pin down — it’s used 31 times in the NT, but in every instance, it’s a reference to Jesus, either as a title or a simile. In the OT, a lamb is a symbol for innocence or purity, thus a “spotless lamb” is able to be used as a sacrifice.
So, we could settle on something like this: Be pure, innocent and gentle even when surrounded by potential danger and trouble.
4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
Why did Jesus say this?! The first part is bad planning and the second is simple rudeness.
It does give an impression of urgency, of haste on an important task. Don’t let anything slow you down on your journeys. Don’t waste time on preparations, or get distracted by discussions on the way. The important part is the cities, not the journey between them.
5 When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
Once you’re in the city, don’t shop around for the best deal. A person who can heal could easily command the best accommodation in town.
In fact, a clever person who had the power to heal the sick could easily become very rich. So, may there was a subtle message to not accumulate either. If you don’t have a purse or a bag, it’s difficult to carry any gifts from one place to another.