Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jesus Promised Both Authority and Persecution but "Don't be Afraid"

Jesus appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection. 
But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! Don’t afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:26-28, NLT).

After explaining that the disciples would be opposed and persecuted (Matthew 10:16-25), Jesus detailed some of the persecutions to come and how the disciples should react. Christ and his Message would tear apart families – nothing could be more painful than a brother betraying his brother “to death” or a parent causing his or her child to be killed (10:21). In addition, they would be hated by all types of people. Jesus’ disciples would share his authority, but they would also share his sufferings. Then Jesus explained that his followers should be patient and faithful throughout the persecution, knowing that they have a reward that is certain.

The key phrase in this section is “Don’t be afraid” – of those who threaten and of those who cannot touch the soul. The apostles should boldly proclaim God’s truth, shouting it “from the housetops for all to hear!Jesus’ followers should be far more fearful of disobeying God than of facing martyrdom. We are not to be afraid of people but in awe (respect-fear) of God. Later, many of the disciples suffered and died for following Jesus. Yet their bold witness ignited a fire that spread all over the world (You can read all of this in the Book of Acts and John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs).

Think about this: Whether the Bible translation reads “Fear not,” “Have no fear,” or “Don’t be afraid,” the message is clear. Yet often we pull back from sharing our faith because of what might cost us in relationships, income, or social status. Believers in many parts of the world face harsh persecution, living out Jesus’ predictions of verse 10:21. God asks for bold witness to his truth, men and women whose actions and words shout the truth about Jesus. Hear your Saviour’s words as he commissions you: “Don’t be afraid.” Amen.

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