Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. 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! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.”
The context of this teaching in this particular Gospel is enlightening. In Luke the Pharisees are just starting to plot against Jesus, and Jesus is preparing the disciples for persecution. Yet, while He is worried about what they might be whispering behind closed doors, He is not worried what they’re saying about Him, but of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps in their quest to defame Jesus they say some things about God. Maybe their hate for Jesus combined with their love for themselves changes their hearts to be hateful even of God. We know from yesterday that their relationship with Him is sadly off-kilter, so it’s not hard to imagine in tipping completely. I just find it so … awe-inspiring that even while warning the disciples not to fear these men, Jesus has obviously found some pity for them inside His heart.
Jesus’s message for us is more hopeful. We are so valuable to God that our love for Him will never be forgotten. We will be praised in Heaven, and until then God will help us through tricky situations on earth. We are loved.
It’s interested, I always read the last couple verses to be about what to say to non-believers. But as Jesus is clearly talking about persecution throughout this passage, I guess I’ve been a bit confused. It makes me feel a bit better, though, about my complete incompetence when it comes to sharing the Gospel. THAT’S not what God promised to help me with!