DENYING MY LORD
Gracious Lord, thank you for the gift of this day, for its blessings and for the opportunities you have for me to serve you in it.
Read LUKE 12:1-12
Warnings and Encouragements
12 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be[a] on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
- Luke 12:1 Or speak to his disciples, saying: “First of all, be
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.
‘Take up your cross and follow Christ, / nor think till death to lay it down; / for only those who bear the cross / may hope to wear the glorious crown.’1
The ‘yeast of the Pharisees’ (v 1) was hypocrisy, a trait which, allowed to grow, deforms our characters. Not all Pharisees were bad people – remember Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea2 – but many believed that meticulous observance of rules and rituals earned favor with God, differentiating them from other people. All our secret thoughts and double standards will eventually be exposed for all to see. Yet the Pharisees’ own revered Scriptures declared that God, who inhabits eternity, also dwells with people who are ‘contrite and lowly in spirit.’3
We read the grim words which follow, knowing that Christians were already facing persecution and martyrdom. Earthly powers could only harm the body, whereas God has power over our eternal future. I write ‘only harm the body’ with trepidation. Can I boast, like Peter, that I would never fail my Lord?4
Threatened with the torture and death of me or my family, dare I say I would never yield? If I do, however, then one day, on the threshold of heaven, I will be deeply ashamed ‘before the angels of God’ (v 9). In that terrible moment, suspended between death and eternity, surely I will find that Jesus has already forgiven me and he will let me in. ‘…a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven’ (v 10) is a message of grace for those who falter under persecution. What then is the sin ‘that will not be forgiven’? As a boy, I asked my father. He said that anyone who worried about it certainly hadn’t committed it! It was, he said, a conscious lifetime rejection of the Holy Spirit’s pleading to come to God through Jesus. We can stumble, we can fall, even deny our Lord, but when the quiet voice within calls us back to him, we rise to follow him again along the path to eternity.
If ever we deny the Lord, may we hear the Spirit calling us back. May we have the strength to take up our cross, seeking eternal life.
Holy Spirit, fill my heart with God’s love and with openness to follow him. Thank you for the assurance you give of his presence with me and his power in me to do his will.
1 Charles Everest, 1814–77, ‘Take up your cross’ 2 John 3:1; 19:38,39; Luke 23:50,51 3 Isa 57:15 4 Luke 22:33
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