July 13, 2014: Pentecost 5

Let us pray: Dear Savior, our regenerated side knows that You have triumphed over all our enemies with Your victory on the cross and Your resurrection from the tomb. Yet, our old Adam still allows fear to distract us from You and to burden our souls. Send the Spirit to counteract all our many fears by focusing on You and Your eternal love for us. Amen


TEXT: Matthew 10: 24-33

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

The other night I taught an adult class. During class I made the point that the word: “good” is actually a derivative of the old Anglo Saxon word: “Gott” or God. So, when you wish someone a good morning, you’re actually praising God and reminding them it’s “God’s morning.” Likewise, good day originally means: “God’s day.” And when you call something “good” you’re ascribing godliness to it. It changes how you look at the world, doesn’t it?

When you study a text from the Bible it’s important to key in on specific words and what they mean. Yes, the whole context is vital. But little words can shed a whole lot of light on a passage’s meaning. With that in mind, three phrases are used in this lesson spoken by Christ to His disciples. Those three recurring phrases here are: “Do not be afraid.” Most you know that those same words were spoken by an angel to Mary during the annunciation and again to those early-risers at the empty tomb. There those words are pure Gospel. They are pure comfort to startled sinners when confronted by God’s goodness. Here Christ uses them again. And, once again, they are meant to comfort sinners like us amidst opposition to the faith and the anxiety that usually accompanies it.


Fear, or “phobos” in the original Greek text, is well known to every single human. Fear is an emotion that stems from feelings of inadequacy or powerlessness. It also drags along with it visions of pain, suffering, and general angst. One of my sisters has a phobia, a fear, of spiders. Some of you suffer from fear of mice, snakes, water, or in my mother’s case: hawks and eagles! Where do all these fears come from? Who knows? They just are.

However, they are debilitating and often almost always cause people to back off, don’t they?

You and I are disciples of Christ. We follow Him and His teachings. So, Christ’s words here are really directed at you and me. “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household.”

Jesus had been accused by His enemies of doing miracles in the name of Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Basically, they threw at Him the most severe insult they could in a culture where religious speech predominated. (Of course, Christ then reminded them that “a house divided against itself cannot stand” so if they were correct, Satan’s kingdom would obviously fall. Thus silencing them.) The point here is: if Jesus suffered such insults and opposition, we dare not expect anything different.


Now comes the application as we go about confessing Christ to an unbelieving world: “So, do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 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. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Why do Christians shrink from taking on sin and unbelief and standing in direct opposition to it? Why do we hold back rather than confronting evil and calling it what it is? Why are we so silent, content to live in our cozy world? It’s all about fear. When you tell someone that abortion is murder, you’ll be ostracized, criticized, and stigmatized. Such words can and do hurt. When you see people abusing the “system” and engaging in theft and deception and then confront them or report them, you’ll be called names or even attacked. Modern day believers just “don’t want to get involved” because they fear the consequences. Those consequences being upset and a toppling of their comfort zone. But, if we don’t stand for something, than we really stand for nothing…..

Here Jesus reminds us that this is part of the cost of being a disciple. He suffered all sorts of slings and arrows during His ministry. He was hated by the masses. He was physically abused. He was tortured to death on a cross. If they did it to Him, they can do it to us. And yet, such sacrifice is really the heart and soul of Christianity. Such sacrifice is also liberating. When it comes it means we’re on the right track. Suffering for Christ is a really a badge of honor.

So, He repeats that phrase: “Do not be afraid.” The worst thing that can happen to you in this life is you die. But we’re all going to die—someday. Moreover, for us dying is the ultimate in liberation. It means we’re freed from this evil world to enjoy something beyond our wildest dreams. Christ knows our wants and needs. He knows the hairs of our heads. You say you trust Him with your soul, so why not trust Him with your body, too? After all, He gave His life to save both your body and soul from this corrupted existence….


A while back I seriously thought about my own death. It was sobering, but also a bit liberating. That’s because after examining why God allows me life I concluded: “I still have things to say and do for His glory. When I reach the point where I’ve concluded that task, that’s when God will take me.” The same is really true for all of you. So, do not be afraid to speak His truth in love. Do not shy away from tough situations when Godly guidance is needed. Fulfill your purpose in life, dear Christian. And always remember: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Amen