Discipleship and Suffering

Scripture

Read Matthew 10:16-25

Key Verse

“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.”

Study

Jesus warned his disciples what they should expect when they went out into the world.  It would not be an easy journey and they would have many trials to overcome.  The trials that the disciples would face were beatings and persecutions and imprisonment.  But the warning goes beyond this and applies to us as well.  In many countries this very thing continues to happen but Lord willing, we will not see it in ours.

What kind of trials can we expect if not what Jesus warned His disciples about? 

Even from within the church, we can expect to encounter persecution.  We are warned that we will encounter wolves in sheep’s clothing.  This is within the church itself.  People who appear to be genuine and who we believe to be our friends may betray us, either maliciously or ignorantly.

The message, according to Bonhoeffer, is “Beware of men.”  Consider what he writes: The disciples are not expected to show fear of men, nor malice, nor mistrust, still less a sour misanthropy, nor that gullible credulity which believes that there is good in every man: they are expected rather to display an unerring insight into the mutual relation of the Word and man.

The suffering that a disciple must suffer is not without purpose.  People suffer all the time as the result of their own sin.  However, the suffering of the disciples brought them before governors and kings and opened the way for them to share the gospel with even those in the highest of places.

How can your suffering be of benefit to the kingdom of God? 

Regardless of how great our suffering may seem, we have not been asked to do anything our Lord has not already experienced.  The pain, the loneliness, the agony – He experienced it all and in greater magnitude than we’ll see.  But God is also with us in our sufferings.  He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

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