“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. ..." (Matthew 10:16-20)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. But be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:16-20)

Why is Jesus warning them?

Jesus is instructing his disciples on how to go out and preach the gospel of love for God. Jesus warns them to be careful as they preach:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves."
This is consistent with how Jesus’ also taught. He guarded against those Pharisees and Sadducees that were trying to trick him into saying things that they could arrest him for. As is the case today among many sectarian institutions that claim to follow Jesus, they did not like anyone who was teaching anything but their interpretations of the scripture. Why is this?

Certainly, those synagogues were supposed to be places of worship in the spirit of the teachings of Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David and other great Prophets.

Why were they 'wolves'?

What had gone wrong to have Jesus warn his disciples against them being trapped and tortured by these people? Why were these men "wolves"?

It is due to envy and power. Many in paid positions of authority amongst organized religious sects are there because they desire positions of authority. They want to have others respect and worship them.

As a result, their teachings become tainted by their desires to gain and maintain a position of authority. They end up utilizing the teachings of Jesus and the Prophets for their own power and prestige instead of passing on the wisdom of these great teachers.

In other words, they are doing their will, not God's. Why else would they be so fearful of someone speaking something different than their teachings?

Why didn't Jesus take a temple priest position?

We notice that Jesus did not take a paid temple position appointed by councils of men. We find that he did speak at the Temple in various locations. But he did not accept an appointment or position with any of them.

Neither did Jesus' teacher, John the Baptist. John was very critical of the two groups of Temple officials:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.  And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. (Matthew 3:7-9)
Like John, Jesus didn't want his disciples to accept such official positions either. Both of them railed against the temple officials.

Jesus further warned that because his teachings are the Truth, those who were envious and set against doing the will of the Supreme Being will find reasons to hurt them. 

Jesus is now warning his disciples that the persecution that he will face they will also face. What will happen to him and what happened to his teacher John the Baptist, may also happen to his disciples.

And surely it did. Practically every apostle of Jesus was persecuted, as were many other followers of Jesus.

Jesus is clearly warning his disciples so they could possibly prevent being persecuted. Yet at the same time, he is clear that they need to speak for the Supreme Being, and not worry about what they say. Jesus is clearly telling his disciples to speak the Truth and represent God. What may happen to them will be out of their control. But he is preparing them for the possible outcomes.

How will the 'Spirit of your Father' speak through them?

Then Jesus says:
"But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
This last sentence is critical, as it defines the relationship between Jesus and God. It defines how Jesus could make statements regarding his proximity to God and the oneness between himself and God.

Jesus is instructing his students to "not worry about what to say" because he wants them to allow the Supreme Being to speak through them. This is the very definition of oneness.

Jesus wants them to take refuge in God and allow the Supreme Being to speak through them. As the “Spirit of your Father” speaks through them, Jesus clarifies, “it will not be you speaking.”

And what does Jesus mean by the "Spirit of your Father" here? This same statement was recorded slightly differently in Luke:
"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." (Luke 12:11)
Thus we can see that Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit - the Supreme Being's expansion who dwells next to each of us within these physical bodies.

Jesus is explaining the process of preaching on behalf of the Supreme Being, and this also clearly explains precisely what Jesus himself did.

Did God speak through Jesus?

Through his intimate loving relationship with the Supreme Being, Jesus allowed God to speak through him. As this happens, we can say that there is a oneness between Jesus and God because they have the same will and the same words.

But this doesn't mean that Jesus is the Supreme Being. When one person speaks for another we might be listening to one person, but there are still two persons involved - the one being spoken for and the one speaking.

For example, if a country's ambassador goes to a meeting with a foreign president to carry a message from their government, the foreign head of state hears the message as if it is coming from the head of the ambassador's government. The foreign president does not think the ambassador is voicing his own personal opinion.

Yet the foreign president also doesn’t confuse the ambassador with the government or government leader they represent either. He knows the ambassador is an individual, a separate person from the president of that country. At the same time, the foreign president extends the same respect to the ambassador as he would to the president, because the ambassador is representing the president. This creates a oneness between them, but they are still two individuals.

In the same way, we can understand that the messenger of God is not the Supreme Being. We can see that there are two individuals here, just as the ambassador is not the president.

At the same time, however, we can know that the words of Jesus are the words of God because Jesus is representing God. Therefore we can respect and honor Jesus as God’s representative, knowing that he is speaking for the Supreme Being - yet is not personally the Supreme Being himself.

This is also why we find Jesus praying to God, saying:
"Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. Let the cup pass from me." (Mark 14:36)
It is obvious from this prayer that Jesus is an individual and not the Supreme Being - "Abba, Father" -capable of having his own will.

This position of being the messenger and representative of God was Jesus' role, but we also now know that Jesus taught that this would also be the role of Jesus' disciples should they also allow God to speak through them.

This confirms that the ultimate authority is coming from the Supreme Being.

This subtle yet glorious understanding regarding Jesus’ position is clear from Jesus’ other teachings:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)