[Jesus continued his warning to the apostles when he sent them out:] "But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking — it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
— Matthew 10:17-20 NLT
While opposition and persecution are real possibilities for followers of Jesus, he does not leave us unequipped for such circumstances:
- He does not paint a rosy picture. He wants us to know the truth about what lies ahead and does not want us to be caught off guard.
- We must practice caution because there are those wanting to do us harm. We are not trying to get into trouble; it may happen because of what we do, but it is not our goal.
- Jesus reminds us of our purpose of appearing before others for the sake of the Good News: We are to be witnesses to the world.
- We are not to worry exactly how to defend ourselves, for the Spirit of God will help us know what to say.
Jesus makes it clear that we may suffer for our faith, but he wants us to know that we will not be unequipped or abandoned when we do! His words are a careful and practical balance of warning, assurance, mission, and support.
Holy and righteous God, I pray now for believers all over the world who are facing persecution and harassment for their faith. Please bless them and fill them with your Spirit to give them words to say to make a lasting redemptive impact on the hearts of those who oppose them. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.