"I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. And I say unto you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before angels of God. (Luke 12:4-9 NASB)Jesus warns us that we are not to fear man, who can only kill the body. Rather, we are to fear the one who after He has killed the body, can cast it into hell. This is a very solemn warning that we need to pay more careful attention to. It can be so easy to remain silent when those around us are mocking Christianity. Like the ten spies sent into the land of Canaan, we too are often overwhelmed by fear, and perceive that those who stand in opposition to Jesus Christ are much larger than they really are. Yet, as Jesus says, they can only kill the body and no more. We are not to fear them, but to fear God.We also receive the comforting promise that God cares for us. The same God who cares for the birds, cares for us as well. We read of Stephen, as the enraged mob was about to stone him,
But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56 NASB)God gave Stephen what he needed to face the hour of trial, the Lord Jesus himself standing up for His faithful martyr.
We are given the promise that if we confess Christ before men, He will confess us before the angels. We are also given the warning that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us. In Mark 8:38 we read,
"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of Him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38 NASB)
Indeed, we live in an adulterous and sinful generation. There are many who compromise with the world around them. There are those who choose to remain silent out of fear, or out of a desire not to offend someone. To them, Jesus' warning is clear and sobering. We dare not be ashamed of the one who gave His life for us. His words are truth and bring life. How can we, His followers, be ashamed of Him and His words? Yet, the temptation is very real, and like Peter, even though we may say we would never deny Him, we so often do (Matt 26:33-35).
The same Peter who denied Christ, was filled with boldness on the day of Pentecost, as he stood before the jeering crowd and boldly proclaimed Christ crucified and risen from the dead. From that point on, we see the boldness and zeal of the early Church, as they spread the gospel in the face of persecution. May we possess that same spirit today, and boldly stand for Christ in our generation.