16 Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 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. 19 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. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 22 And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.
24 Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. 25 Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
26 But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
28 Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
The first promise here is one of my favorites (especially for me on this day), that the Holy Spirit will give you what to say in those moments when what you are specifically trying to communicate is the Gospel of Jesus. I have experienced this sort of thing and it is rather powerful. I have also experienced moments when I became aware that I was saying quite a bit more and other than what the Spirit was trying to communicate. It’s very frustrating when you catch yourself working contrary to God and unfortunately it is all too common. But that’s because we are not perfect creatures and we have a tendency to make messes. Don’t let those moments stop you. Keep trying. Keep sharing. With practice, listening to the Spirit and sharing well gets easier (though messes still happen). And as Jesus said here, they demonized him – the One who didn’t make messes, so you can expect the same treatment. Don’t let that stop you either, even when they exploit your messes to put you down. Take courage and have confidence in the God who cares for little birds and keeps a count of the hairs on your head (quite a feat for some of us). God will help you in those sharing moments and in those attacked moments and in all the moments in between.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.