Summary: Discussion of Jesus’ words about taking the message to those who may or may not accept it.
Shrewd as Snakes & Innocent as Doves?
January 22, 2006
How many people here are "snake" people? I mean, you like snakes, you can hold them, and you’re not freaked out by them?
My dad’s great with snakes - even rattlesnakes. When I was about Noble’s age, my dad was the Scoutmaster of my Boy Scout troop in Eagle Butte.
For some reason, we got connected with a troop from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and they decided to come out to the reservation and experience life camping on the rez.
During the few days we were out there, the guy who owned the ranch brought out some horses for people to ride. And during one of the rides, one of the Scouts spotted a rattlesnake.
So all of a sudden, about 30 Boy Scouts armed with big sticks, shovels, and axes were on the hunt.
My dad led the way, and wouldn’t you know, he found it. So he’s digging away in the ground to get this bugger, because he wants to make sure it doesn’t make it to camp.
As soon as the snake is out of the ground, my dad grabs a forked stick and pins it to the ground, just like a professional snake wrangler.
He then grabs the snake, and starts walking to the river bank, with all of us in awe, but especially these rich boys from the east.
For a while, my dad was the man as far as we were concerned.
Anyway, we get to the river bank and Dad throws this snake on the ground and starts talking about how to recognize rattlesnakes.
He’s poking it with a stick to keep it away from us, and all the while saying, "Don’t poke them with sticks like this..."
Well then that snake had had enough and started slithering away. Toward the women. About 9,000 shovels and sticks rained down on that snake and it was dead in a matter of seconds.
We found a couple more that day, and ate them that night. And yes, they do taste like chicken.
I’m okay with snakes, for the most part. I don’t go looking for them, but they generally don’t cause me to panic like spiders do...
But let me ask you something: When you think of snakes do you think of much along the lines of positive attributes?
Here’s what I mean by that: when we say someone’s a snake, is that a compliment? Nope. It’s an insult, right?
But believe it or not, snakes have some redeeming qualities, and I’m not just talking about the fact that they’re all warm and cuddly, offering unconditional love like puppies do.
Well, we’re continuing to work through the gospel of Matthew, and we’re in the middle of a section where Jesus is sending out the Twelve apostles, for a bit of on-the-job training as missionaries.
He’s giving them a bunch of instructions as they get ready to experience for themselves the ministry of taking the good news of Jesus to others.
In the first few verses of this chapter, he basically told them what to take and who to go to, and now he talks about how to go, and discusses how they should interact with the people they’ll be encountering.
"Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15 I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."