Then Jesus said to the people, "I tell you, my friends, don't be afraid of people. People can kill the body, but after that they can do nothing more to hurt you. I will show you the One to fear. You should fear him (God) who has the power to kill you and also to throw you into hell. Yes, he is the One you should fear."
— Luke 12:4-5
Most of us, me included, much prefer to speak about God's grace, love, and mercy. Every-once-in-awhile, however, we hit one of those "shake you to the core" passages that remind us of God's holiness and our sinfulness. God doesn't want to punish or condemn us. Jesus is proof of that. But, he is the creator and he has paid an enormous price to bring us back to himself after our rebellion. When we ignore his grace, mercy, and love we are choosing disaster and judgment. God's grace, mercy, and love is revealed and offered to us in Jesus. To reject Jesus is to reject God and his grace, mercy, and love. It is to choose judgment and condemnation. In a Gospel so focused on God's desire to save all people from all walks of life, this warning should be taken seriously. Jesus wants us to know that what we decide about him and do with his life and teachings means everything for us eternally.
Father, forgive me when I have trivialized your grace, mercy, and love that were so powerfully offered to me through Jesus. Forgive me, O God, for the times that I have not been awed by your holiness, not been touched by your sacrificial mercy, and not been wounded at the price you paid to extend me grace. Thank you with all that I am for Jesus, in whose name I offer this confession and prayer. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Many thousands of people came together. There were so many people that they were stepping on each other. Before Jesus spoke to the people, he said to his followers, "Be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees. I mean that they are hypocrites. Everything that is hidden will be shown. Everything that is secret will be made known. The things you say in the dark (secretly) will be told in the light (openly). The things you whisper in a private room will be shouted from the top of the house." Then Jesus said to the people, "I tell you, my friends, don't be afraid of people. People can kill the body, but after that they can do nothing more to hurt you. I will show you the One to fear. You should fear him (God) who has the power to kill you and also to throw you into hell. Yes, he is the One you should fear. "When birds are sold, five small birds cost only two pennies. But God does not forget any of them. Yes, God even knows how many hairs you have on your head. Don't be afraid. You are worth much more than many birds. "I tell you, if any person stands before other people and is willing to say that he believes in me, then I will say that person belongs to me. I will say this before the angels of God. But if any person stands before people and says he does not believe in me, then I will say that person does not belong to me. I will say this before the angels of God. "If a person says something against the Son of Man, he can be forgiven. But a person that says bad things against (refuses to accept) the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. "When men bring you into the synagogues before the leaders and other important men, don't worry about what you will say. At that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say."
Related Scripture Readings
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that every person that believes in him would not be lost, but have life forever. God sent his Son into the world. God did not send his Son to judge the world guilty. God sent his Son so that the world could be saved through his Son. The person that believes in God's Son is not judged (condemned). But the person that does not believe is already judged. Why? Because that person has not believed in God's only Son. People are judged by this fact: The Light (goodness) has come into the world. But people did not want light. They wanted darkness (sin). Why? Because they were doing evil things. Every person that does evil hates the light. That person will not come to the light. Why? Because then the light will show all the bad things he has done. But the person that follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that the things that person has done were done through God.
Then Jesus used this story: "There was a rich man that had some land. His land grew a very good crop of food. The rich man thought to himself, 'What will I do? I have no place to keep all my crops.' Then the rich man said, 'I know what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger barns! I will put all my wheat and good things together in my new barns.
If your hand makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to lose part of your body but have life forever. That is much better than to have two hands and go to hell. In that place the fire never stops. If your foot makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to lose part of your body but have life forever. That is much better than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. If your eye makes you sin, take it out. It is better for you to have only one eye but have life forever. That is much better than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. The worms that eat the people in hell never die. In hell the fire is never stopped.