"Lamb Among the Wolves" SCRIPTURE: Luke 10:1-12

Anybody looking for work?
Boy, have I got a job for you!
Listen to one of the percs you’re gonna have when you take this job.
When you get up in the morning and get ready to go out into the world
do you ever feel like a lamb among the wolves?
When you get your purse ready and pick up your cell phone and anything else you think you need for the day’s events,…
do you think you might be as vulnerable as a lamb among wolves?
The job I’m taking about offers just that exciting reward to you.
You don’t have to have any experience before hand,…just sign up.

In today’s Gospel lesson Jesus sends out seventy of his apostles to do a very important job for him.
That is,…help spread the word of what he calls ‘The Kingdom of God’.
What he means is sharing God’s love and grace and forgiveness to people.
When he says that ‘The Kingdom of God’ has come near,…. he means that you have had a close encounter with the ways of God!
Its not so much about a place,….as it is about the grace.
When Jesus talks about ‘The Kingdom of God’,….he’s talking about is a way of being in the world;…..HIS way of being.
Showing graciousness,….trying to help heal where there are wounds, bringing the outsiders to the inside,…..forgiving our enemies.

And so he sends them out with very little to support their efforts.
No purse, or bag, or footwear.
He says to them,….’whoever offers you hospitality, take what they give you and ask for no more’.
Then he tells them wherever they go, to offer this sense of peace that knowing God’s love and grace brings, but don’t expect rewards.
And if this ‘Kingdom of God’ stuff is not received or appreciated or if they reject you,…then just take it with you and move along.
Last, but not least,….he says that in doing this,…..you'll be like lambs among the wolves of the world.

Now imagine that you are one of Jesus’ followers back then and he puts forth this idea to the group.

Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?
‘Where do we sign up and do these things Jesus asked for?’
And how much did he say we’d get paid for this job?
Who wants to go and do that…..raise your hands?

But don’t just imagine that you were one of Jesus’ followers back then,
because you are supposed to be one of his followers today!
We are supposed to share grace without expecting any thanks or hospitality it might bring.
We are expected to show kindness to all and not ask for a return reward from God of any kind.
We are called to love our enemies and forgive others,…even when they don’t deserve or ask for it.
In short,….this IS our job already!
If we consider ourselves to be a Christian person and a follower of Jesus…, there are expectations that our Lord has of us.

Not only does he want us to get out there and be a reflection of him in the world,……but he also tells us that doing so won’t always be easy.
That sometimes you’ll even feel like a “lamb among wolves”.
Can you see those earliest followers looking at each other and saying “You up for this?
Let’s go have a great time,…taking nothing with us,….eating only what handouts we’re given,…. and being like lambs among wolves’.
But out they went, along with others later, who did the same thing.
Did it despite the lack of resources,…the shortcomings,….the wolves.

Who are the wolves Jesus talks about?
The wolves can be nasty people who outright reject God’s goodness and kindness,….(and there are plenty of them out there).
They can also be people familiar to us, like our friends and family who don’t appreciate or who even reject ‘Jesus way of being’.
They might not be hostile to acts of grace,…instead, they might ignore or even mock when you are doing the job Jesus calls us to do.
And then there are always those wolves who lurk within the flock itself, whom some have called ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’.

 

Some of the worst wolves are not hiding in the bushes,…..but the person in the pew or the pastor in the pulpit every Sunday.
How many times have we seen wolf-like behavior,….that is, hostility towards the ways of the lambs of Jesus who try to do good,….by pious clergy or God-fearing Christians?
Oh,…they embrace the grace of forgiveness and salvation,…..but in their way of being,…they’re more wolves than lambs.

Yeah,…there are real wolves out there in real life.
Wolves who are hostile to the ways of Jesus Christ when peaceful international aid workers are attacked or killed by terrorists.
Wolves on the loose when a political leaders speak out for things that would make Jesus cry and God get mad. 
And wolves who prey upon the lambs when church people and clergy pursue selfish goals instead of being there for others.

If I’m doing a bad job of trying to sell you on this job of going out there to be lamb among the wolves of the world,…..well…..
I guess the problem is that the buyer always asks ‘What’s gonna be in it for me?’
But ‘what’s in it for us’, has already been given by God in Christ.
We only have the roof over our heads because God has provided it.
We only have our possessions and education and intellect because God has blessed us with those things.
We only have an assurance that we won’t be punished in this life or the next for wrongs we’ve done,…because Christ has forgiven us.
We only have the confidence that death won’t be the end of our story because of the whole Jesus story that we’re part of.
We’ve already been rewarded with God’s love and presence with us.
So we don’t go out as a lamb among the wolves for the payoff we’ll get.
We do this job and risk being vulnerable, because of the payoff we got

We go out there and do the good things Jesus wants us to do, knowing that,….through it all and in the end,…he’ll take care of his lambs.
Although we may sometimes feel like lambs among those wolves,… we have nothing to fear.
The Good Shepherd always protects his lambs!

So who wants to sign up?

Amen