Opening Thoughts: First off I wanted to take just a brief moment to admonish you all to dive into your Bibles. I can think of no greater treasure that we have been given on this side of eternity, outside of salvation through Christ Himself, than God’s Word. How many people are currently busy running around trying to hear a word from God by way of prophecy or teachers? Yet, much of the time they can’t be bothered to even crack open their Bibles. Let us study to show ourselves approved. Don’t just take my word for it, if you’re not already doing it, please get in there yourself and study. God’s will for your life is revealed in its pages.
Main Text: Luke 12:4-7 ESV … “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
The Fear of the Church: The church in Jesus day was powerful in the sense that if they did not like you or you if you happened to be a threat to the leadership in any way they had ways and means of getting rid of you. This is fully demonstrated in the very Crucifixion of Christ. So for Jesus to rebuke the Pharisees and leaders then warn the crowds to stay away from their teachings and hypocrisy was not only signing His own death certificate, but anyone who believed Him was in essence signing their own as well. Many people were very excited to hear this revolutionary teaching and hung on every word that He spoke, while at the same time they feared for their lives to follow Him.
Getting Your Fear in Order: When I was growing up we lived in a house that was invaded with mice, to this day I still don’t like the dirty fur balls. My mother was terrified of these little creatures so much so that she would often times be standing on a chair in the middle of the kitchen holding a broom and screaming for my dad as one of the tiny squeakers ran past her. It wasn’t uncommon for us to catch several mice per night in the traps we set either. One particular night I heard squeaking in my bedroom only to open my toy-box and find a nest in the bottom with baby mice in it, hey, did I mention I’m not fond of mice?
The point I’m trying to make is that my mother had an authentic fear of mice, however if she had been in a situation where she was cornered by a hundred mice on one side and on the other side stood a huge Lion, she would instantly lose her fear of mice and literally trample them in order to escape the grasp of the perusing bear. In this fictional story the presence of the bear caused my mother to get her FEAR perspectives in the right order.
This is exactly what Jesus is saying in this text, will the Pharisees kill you if you abandon them and follow the truth? Probably. Will being crucified or suffering whatever it is they choose to do to you be painful? Yes of course, but it is so short lived it’s literally like a single tear drop in the ocean when compared to eternity. But that kind of fear is nothing when compared to meeting God on the day of Lord. The emphasis that Jesus places on the fear of the Lord by vividly describing His wrath and judgement ultimately redirects the fear of His hearers away from the Pharisees, who are like the tiny little mice in my story who are able to do no more than nibble your toes, and rightly averts their attention toward a Being so powerful that eternity itself is determined at his voice and command. He is a Judge who will rule with a rod of righteousness and no trace of sin will escape His examination. Every last unpaid sin, along with its owner, will be gathered up without negotiation and sentenced to an eternity in Hell. It’s imprudent to conclude that Jesus didn’t place an emphasis on Hell when he was preaching to His hearers. The truth is he warned severely of it and most times He was speaking to church folks like you and me.
Revelation 20:11-15 ESV … Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
READ the BIBLE: Like I said at the beginning of this post, it’s so important for us who have been given this opportunity so freely to get into our Bibles and study. There is nothing more important than your eternal soul. Ask God for the humility it takes to examine your life by His word, to detect if there is evidence of Christ living in you by way of fruit. We just read in Revelation 20 where God will open the book and see whose names are there, perhaps we need to get into the Book that He’s already given us and see for ourselves before we stand before Him.
Fear Not: This is likely the most important part of my main text to get right, the reason I say that is if one is to misunderstand the term “fear not” they may misunderstand the Holiness of God and the seriousness of the Gospel. In a sense it almost seems as though Jesus turns right around on his first statement and refutes it. He doesn’t, He never tells us NOT to fear the Lord, but rather to those who Fear Him, they will have nothing to fear. For those who Fear the Lord will take refuge in Christ as their only Hope. The Day of the Lord is something to be Feared not because God is terrible, but because we are so totally depraved and He is so gloriously holy that as guilty criminals we wouldn’t last a split second in His presence. However, for those who lose themselves of their identity and pride, and hide themselves in Christ, He becomes their defender on the great day in court. He can defend us and protect us from God’s justified wrath not because we are innocent but because He also became our substitute when He hung on the Cross. He took our sin, guilt and wrath and absorbed the full blow when He hung on the tree. The fear of the Lord continually reminds us of our unworthiness and of Christ’s sacrifice. Proverbs 9:10 “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.
If you have been trusting in yourself, or maybe you have been a church goer your whole life and have never given too much though about eternity, perhaps this is the day when you pay closer attention to Jesus words. I beg you to get into the word and see if how Jesus describes a Christ follower reflects your life. If not, get on your knees and call out to Him for salvation, repent of your sin and trust in Him alone to save you from what would otherwise be certain eternal loss. Grace & Peace.
Preparing The Way
~ Shane Martin