Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered and said, 'The Christ of God.' And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one.
Before sending His disciples on their first solo mission, He warns them of the danger. They are His sheep, and sheep are defenseless among predators. Therefore, they must understand their helplessness without Him and their utter dependency upon Him.
But our God is a God of perfect preparation. Therefore, to prepare His disciples for their journey into enemy territory, He 'Gave them power' (Matthew 10:1).
He also told them to be as 'Wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' What does that mean?
Jesus was the Dove. He was the personification of God's Holy Spirit. Among the evil men of His generation, He was harmless. In His disguise as a humble carpenter who became a teacher, preacher, and healer, He walked in enemy territory: a world controlled by Satan.
Consider Jesus' words in Luke 9:21 where He 'Strictly warned and commanded' His disciples to keep His identity secret. Why? The next verse gives the answer: 'The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day' (Luke 9:22).
If the leaders of the Jews came to believe Jesus was the Messiah, if His disciples broadcast His identity in every town He entered, if Jesus proved it by performing signs and wonders never seen before, His master plan could have been thwarted. Instead, He left most people guessing.
Because if He had been crowned King of the earth at the time of His visit (see John 6:15), would He have been crucified? And if He had not been crucified, would we have been saved?
Saving us was His mission.
Therefore, His mission and full identity as Messiah had to remain unknown to all but a select few for a time, in order for His plan to succeed.
Here's the zinger: Our mission and full identity as disciples must also remain unknown to all but a select few for a time, in order for His plan to succeed.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Wise As Serpents series.