His disciples must have been picking up that following Jesus wasn’t a matter of if things were going to get rough, but when. To follow Jesus would end up being out of sync with the world — and in their case, not only the secular world but the religious world as well.
I’m hovering over the first twelve verses of Luke 12 this morning and two “do not” commands catch my eye. One in particular has me thinking.
“I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him! . . . 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, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” ~ Jesus
(Luke 12:4-5, 11-12 ESV)
Do not fear. Do not be anxious.
To stand for Jesus would eventually mean standing before those who rejected Jesus. To be true to the living Word would, at some point, demand a spoken word before hostile authorities. To remain faithful to the Prince of Life might require the price of their own lives. “Do not fear,” says Jesus, “Do not be anxious.”
One is about not fearing the possibility of martyrdom. The other is about not fretting about what to do in the moment. It’s the second scenario I find myself chewing on.
Worrying about what to do when you’re on the hot seat. Getting tied up in knots about what you might say when those without ears to hear demand an answer. Don’t be anxious.
. . . for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.
In that very hour–in real time, just when you need it, in the thick of it all–the One who is in you will teach you. The Spirit of truth will give you the truth to speak. The Spirit of revelation will take over and help you reveal the hope you have in Christ. He’s not going to hand you a manuscripted defense in advance, but in that very hour He will teach you what you ought to say. So, don’t be anxious.
Can we apply this outside of persecution? Is it too much to think, to expect, that the Spirit who has been promised to teach us in that very hour will actually engage with us in every hour where we’re not sure how we’re going to step up to whatever we’re being asked to step up to for Christ? I’m thinkin’ . . .
Isn’t it true, like really true, that whatever the situation or scenario we find ourselves in we truly are never alone? That, because we have been crucified with Christ, that it really is no longer we who live, but the Second Person of the Godhead, the Son of God, who lives in us (Gal. 2:20) — and that, through the Third Person of the Godhead, the Spirit of God?
So, says Jesus, do not be anxious. Because in that very hour, in every hour, you’ll know what to say for the One who lives in you and through you will know what to say. You’ll know what to do, because He knows what to do.
I believe that Lord. Help my unbelief.
By Your grace. For Your glory.