In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?[b]And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Meanwhile, Back on the Ranch …
It is while the Pharisees, Sadducess, Herodians, and Scribes are plotting his death that Jesus’ popularity reaches a peak. There is a threat to Jesus and his followers that safety and popularity will dictate the maintaining of a certain image, but Jesus opposes hypocrisy. The Pharisees are great at maintaining power through keeping up appearances. However, Jesus points to a final day and hopes his followers will see the value of living with God’s judgment in mind. There is no point in creating an image that gives fame and fortune in the short run. The eternal hope of heaven is to be our focus. Heaven becomes a place on earth when we live lives focused on the reality of God in our lives and acknowledge God’s work in the Creation. This may not win friends and influence people, but there is only one whose opinion counts in the end.
Jesus tells us to fear and then not to fear. The Fear of the Lord is a compound phrase and needs to be interpreted in its entirety. I swung in my understanding from it being a mild reverence for God to its being a terrified experience of God. It is both and neither in reality. This article unpacks some of the complexity of the term http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Parashah/Summaries/Eikev/Yirah/yirah.html but comes from a source that I can’t evaluate accurately. What I do know is that the article reflects the complexity of the term.
The affects of knowing God and living for God is that one speaks up authentically as a witness for God. The Holy Spirit leads people to salvation through our testimony, but if they reject that salvation they will remain unforgiven.
This generation craves authentic witness. Let me know you in such a way that I authentically share the good news of what you are doing in my life.
- To what does the ‘meanwhile’ refer?
- How is this passage a contrast to chapter 11?
- What does Jesus require of his disciples?
- Of whom are you afraid?
- How do you cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord which overflows into witness?