To fear something is to truly understand its power
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Surrounded by a crowd of people who were desperate to see him, Jesus did not address the people. Instead, he took the time to address his disciples first. Jesus wanted to prepare the disciples to effectively lead people to God even in the face of hostility. This meant truly understanding the nature of God and not giving in to the fear of other people. Jesus wanted them to understand that rather than fearing those who could take their lives, they needed to fear the one who has control over our eternal lives. And it’s important that we do the same.
In a growingly hostile society it can be easy to fear the persecution of others. But in this passage, Jesus warns us against this as the fear of man leads only to hypocrisy. When people fear other people they try to hide their mistakes in order to maintain a strong and positive exterior. They don’t say or do what is necessary, only what is wanted, to gain approval. In the end, they present a false life enslaved by the fear of man. A life that in the end, often turns people away because it is deceptive and unrealistic.
Instead, Jesus points us to fearing God. When he talks about fear here though, he doesn’t mean it in the negative sense of purely wanting to avoid punishment, but a reverent fear driven by the understanding of the greatness of God’s power. He is in control of everything. Truly understanding this does not enslave us like the fear of man does but instead produces freedom. By putting our faith in God we no longer need to fear anything else because he can save us eternally from all pain and suffering.
Head: How does fear of God bring us freedom?
Heart: What does the term ‘reverent fear’ mean to you? Do you have a ‘reverent fear’ of God?
Hands: Where do you fear to publicly acknowledge God? How can this passage help you to overcome this fear?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you that you are a great and almighty God. Thank you for all that you have given us and promised us. Please help us not to value the opinion of others more than your grace for us. We pray that through your strength we can be bold in proclaiming your Word so that more may come to know You.
In Jesus’ Name we pray.
A song to listen to: Living Hope
Natalie Yong – Living Church Creek Road