“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:16-22)
There’s a false gospel that’s spreading that says that if you follow Jesus, life will go smoothly for you: you will grow in financial prosperity and health, and calamity will not befall you. This false notion creates, I think, many short-term “Christians” who fall away as soon as they realize they’ve been lied to. Life, after all, remains hard.
As Jesus sends out His twelve disciples in the passage above, look at some of what He promises them:
1. Men delivering them to courts and flogging them in their synagogues
2. Being dragged before governors and kings
3. Family divisions over Christ
4. Being hated for His name’s sake
Can I tell you something? The “Health and Wealth Gospel” did not exist in first century Palestine. The “Take-up-your-cross-and-follow-Me Gospel” or the “Counting-the-cost-of-discipleship Gospel” are more accurate descriptions of what it meant to be a Christian.
So, why did they do it? I think there were several reasons at this point. We know for Judas, he did it for selfish ambition. But for the others, at least to some degree, they were willing to go through what Jesus said would happen to them because they believed in Him and loved Him. There’s an old hymn that says:
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure.
Come, disaster, scorn, and pain.
In Thy service, pain is pleasure.
With Thy favor, loss is gain.
I think that’s why any of these men (barring Judas) would even think about going through suffering for the name of Christ. He is so glorious, so marvelous, so perfect, and fellowship with Him is so joyous, incomparable, and lovely, that any trial that we would need to face to have it is welcome. Let us say with our brother Paul, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).