“What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops” Matthew 10:27
Jesus takes time to commission His disciples for the harvest labour of declaring the message of the Kingdom to all. They have spent time with Him, learning from Him, and now He is sending them to put into practice what He taught them as they go to bear witness to Him. We learn several important lessons for us to apply as we strive to live as Kingdom witnesses.
First, there is a period of learning – a time spent in the presence of Jesus, discovering who He is, seeing Him at work, encountering first hand His grace and mercy. The disciples did not get sent out the moment the started following Jesus. First came a time of growth, a time of soaking up His presence. Likewise for us, we cannot bear good witness if we do not know the One we are witnessing for. We need to spend time with Jesus, learning from the King before we go out as His witnesses.
The next thing we learn is that we are sent out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16). Not all will be receptive to our message. Not all will want to hear of the Kingdom. Indeed, many will actively try to silence us. They will attack us. They will try to discredit us. They will try to bring us down. But though we are as sheep among wolves we need not fear, for we know the good shepherd, the one who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:15).
The next thing we learn in this commission speech to the disciples is that we will not be alone. We will face many situations where bearing witness to the Kingdom of King Jesus will bring us before people who openly hate us for that. Jesus warns us that “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). But in these situations we can take hope for we are not alone. We do not have to worry. We do not need to be anxious about what we will say in those situations or about how we will answer their questions. For Jesus assures us “it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20). The Holy Spirit is with us, equipping us, giving us words to say, helping us to bear witness, helping su to minister to those who hate us, enabling us to speak the truth in love to those who don’t want to hear it, to those who want to silence us. If we were relying only on our words we would have every right to be afraid, for our words have minimal power, but when the Holy Spirit is speaking through us we can have courage, for there is mighty power in His words to bring Kingdom life, even to those who think they have no interest in hearing it. No matter how people respond to our witness we must boldly go and share the message of the Kingdom, trusting that the Holy Spirit will speak through us to call people in the the narrow gate.
Jesus tells us to “proclaim [His message] on the housetops” (Matthew 10:27). Our witness is not to be done in private, amongst only close friends. It is to be public, for all to see. There is to be no hiding it. There is to be no keeping the Kingdom message to ourselves. We are to go and publicly, loudly, boldly share it with all. It is not to be whispered in the dark but proclaimed in the light. All need to hear and so we must bear witness to all. Our fear should not be of how people will respond to us, but of what will happen to them ultimately if we do not invite them into the Kingdom. Jesus tells us “Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Let that drive you to give your all to a life of bold witness, proclaiming the message of the Kingdom to all regardless of how they respond, out of love for them and a desperate longing to see them embrace the love, grace, forgiveness and mercy Jesus offers to all who accept the invitation to enter through the narrow gate into His eternal Kingdom.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of who they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14
Who do I need to bear witness to today?
Is my witness whispered in the dark or proclaimed in the night? Why?
What encouragement can we take from the fact that the Holy Spirit will speak through us?