PREPARED FOR DEATH
Loving Father, prepare my mind and heart to hear Your word. Prepare me for Your kingdom.
Read Matthew 10:17–31
17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 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!
26 “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. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 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. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhen you first accepted Christ, what did you think the journey would be like?
Imagine you are one of the twelve disciples. Jesus has just given you authority to preach, heal and cast out demons. You are eager to get going, to be part of the blind seeing and the lame leaping. Then Jesus delivers these verses. How do you feel now?
If you follow me, says Jesus, be prepared. Be prepared to be arrested (19), betrayed (21), hated (22), persecuted (23), vili-fied (25) or killed (28).
The book of Acts tells how Jesus’ words were fulfilled. But surely Jesus’ words are equally relevant for his follow-ers throughout history. Verses 21 and 22 could be written for some Christian believers today facing opposition (even death) from family members, or for Christians in North Korea who face imprisonment if their faith is discovered. As we hear of Christians in Mosul forced to flee or face death, the relevance of Jesus’ words (23,28) hits home. Jesus does not offer his followers a prosperity gospel. He promises that, even in dark periods of persecution, his people will be equipped by God’s Spirit (20) to face opposition. He reminds us that our eternal life is more important than this life and that the Christian’s soul is safe in the Father’s hands (28,29).
Visit the websites of Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors or Christian Solidarity International to explore ways you can support the persecuted church.
Lift up those around the world who are facing persecution for their faith. Pray for strength to face opposition that may come.