17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 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, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
In this section, there are many terrible words, but in conclusion (in advance) “Don’t worry.”
The atmosphere of this section is different from that of the previous section.
- He speaks of persecution, suffering, arrest.
- In the opening (the first section), he said, “Do not go to the Gentiles.” But here he talks about the ministry to the Gentiles (v. 18).
- Also, the HS had not been given at that time, but here he mentions it (v. 20).
- And he also talks about his Second Coming (v. 23).
So this is not instructions only to those at that time, but to ALL missionaries at ALL times.
#1: Persecution (v. 17-18)
We can be deeply impressed with Jesus’ honesty. He never hesitated to tell us what we may expect if we follow him. As for human Presidents (election campaigns), they all promise GOOD things for us if we follow them. They never say bad things, the weak points if we accept them as President.
- Imperfect Presidents speak as though they are Perfect in their campaigns.
- But our perfectly Perfect President (Jesus) speaks as though he is Imperfect.
So, he is humble, and totally worthy of our trust.
In the next verse, Jesus says persecution presents MORE opportunities to present the gospel. History has shown that the church has grown larger and stronger through persecution. Even Jesus was given the opportunity to preach before Pilate. And Paul was given great opportunities to stand before the Sanhedrin, governors Felix and Festus, King Agrippa, and even King Herod.
In the face of so much persecution, we don’t need to worry. (v. 19-20)
WHEN they arrest you (not “if”), “do not worry.”
Do you worry about persecution for your faith in Christ? Don’t worry. Because Jesus said, “don’t worry” that’s enough reason to not worry. Also, persecution for Christ makes:
- Faith stronger
- Ministry bigger
- Influence deeper
In Matthew, there are only 2 mentions of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus’ water baptism in chapter 3 – when the HS came down and rested on him.
- HERE – “it will be the Spirit speaking through you.”
BUT do not use this as an excuse to NOT study the Scriptures, to not prepare. We must prepare, but in the case of persecution, the HS will do his job through us supernaturally. Why? Because witnessing about Jesus Christ is THE main ministry of the HS.
How many men will hate you? ALL.
- Brother kills brother.
- Parents kill children.
- Children kill parents.
This is most true spiritually. TRUE death, eternal death, results from the rejection of Jesus Christ. Think about it. If you’ve ever been forced/compelled not to believe in Jesus, WHO usually does it? Not strangers. It’s usually people who know us.
All men will hate us because of Jesus. All men who hate Jesus, also hate us – the announcers and evangelists for Jesus. Want to know if it’s true? Proclaim Jesus on Facebook… I’ve done so… It’s true…
He who stands firm to the end will be saved. We know we are saved by grace, not by perseverance, not by patience, not by works. If we are really saved by grace, THEN, we should work out our own salvation by perseverance, patience, and works.
You will never finish your mission in this world before Jesus comes back (v. 23). We will finish the mission given to us from God when Jesus returns, or when we go to God.
But, Jesus encouragement is “fear not. Do not be afraid.”
3 times he repeats it.
- v. 26 “So do not be afraid of them.”
- v. 28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body…”
- v. 31 “So don’t be afraid.”
But be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (v. 28)
But whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge. But whoever disowns me, I will disown.
Do you fear confessing Jesus Christ before men?
Outside (not inside this church building).
Do you fear? Before big strong men?
Here are several reasons why we should not fear:
#1: FEAR NOT! Because suffering is to be expected.
It is natural, not unnatural. (v. 24-25)
In his earthly ministry, outsiders called Jesus “Beezlebub (The Lord of Ddong)! Demon! Devil!” We are his servants, he is our Master. Then, he was persecuted first for us, now is our turn. The disciple doesn’t outrank the Master.
They called our King, “The King of Ddong!”
Will we escape such accusations? No. But we should count it as a privilege to suffer for him. 1 Peter says, “He was an example and you should follow in his steps…”
#2: FEAR NOT! Because God will bring all things to light someday. (v. 26-27)
Our secrets, our motivations – everything one day will be made known. If we believe this, then we should have no fear before Christ.
The enemies of Christ use secret and deceptive means to oppose the gospel. But the true children of God are very open and courageous in their ministries, lifestyles, etc. We have nothing to hide. At that time, there were many lies and accusations against the believers and against Christ, but God knows the truth. Someday, all things will be revealed and God will judge them.
If we are true Christians, PRESENT judgment from Men should not make us afraid, because we are already standing in the FUTURE judgment of God.
#3: FEAR NOT! Because we fear God alone! (v. 28)
Who is the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell? God.
We know that all humans can do is kill the body. No problem. True believers go to their eternal homes to be with God.
But God can destroy soul, spirit, and body in hell. But God never condemns one of his own children. Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ.”
- Ecclesiastes begins “everything is useless, vanity – totally useless in the life without God.”
- Ecclesiastes ends “fear God and keep his commands – for this is the full duty of man.”
The person who fears God and keeps his commands has no fear. The fear of God overcomes, and destroys ALL other fears. If we fear God truly, there is nothing in this world that we fear.
#4: FEAR NOT! Because God cares for his own (v. 29-31)
Can you count the number of hairs on your head?
Luke 12:6 “5 sparrows are sold for 2 pennies.”
We can get 2 for 1 penny, or 5 for 2. Sparrows are so cheap, we can buy 4+1.
Imagine, if God cares for sparrows in such a marvelous, wonderful way that he knows when a single one dies – how much more he cares for us! He is concerned about ALL the details of our lives! – Even all your hairs are counted! Numbered individually – not just in total.
If God cares about sparrows in such a way that he knows when one dies, then he also knows and watches when one single hair from my head falls off.
God cares about the big stuff in our lives, but also the smallest – even your haircuts.
Why don’t you acknowledge God in all your ways? Then he will make all your paths straight (Proverbs).
There is one more reason why we should not fear, but we will see that next time.
May God bless us all with his living Word.