Wolves and lambs

Not exactly friends together… an invitation to partake in a picnic given to both of these animals would probably leave the lamb a little nervous – certainly if the lamb asked ‘who else is invited?’. Yet… Jesus said to his followers:

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way; I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves (Lk. 10:2,3).

Quite an instruction!!! I wonder if the two animals that Jesus chose was based on his meditations in Isaiah:

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together (Is. 65:25)

The context of Isaiah is of a vision of the Messianic / eschatological age when shalom will be the environment that pervades, all things brought to a place of relational wholeness, which will include all of creation. Jesus is certainly highlighting the age-old prophetic critique of not trusting God for protection (hence why are you relying on Egypt etc. OT type critique) but perhaps he is also pushing those he sends out to be consciously living out the reality of the coming Messianic age – I think that when he goes on to speak about eating together (‘eating and drinking whatever they provide’) further suggests this is in Jesus’ mind when he gives the instructions. Those sent out are not hoping for a new age, they are living in it, an age when lambs and wolves do picnic together!

Maybe the ‘other’ remains a wolf, but our vision changes. We can eat with them and as we go in carrying shalom that shalom will rest on them:

And if a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on that person, but if not, it will return to you.

We have experienced shalom, that has to be what we carry self-consciously, we can meet those who are (perhaps) not as far along the journey but are already people of peace / shalom – they are ready to welcome a new environment, a new reality. We (lambs) eat with those who could turn out to be wolves, but as we find those who long for a new reality of extensive shalom the context of eating together (initiative taken by the lambs, the risk of vulnerability being their challenge, the provision for the picnic coming from the wolves…) the signs that the kingdom has indeed come near is manifest with ‘and cure the sick who are there’.

The instruction to those sent out has far reaching effects socially. It has to, for essentially we have all been formerly wolves, the mark of which is we ‘devour one another’ to satisfy our own appetites.