As today’s chapter began, it was sometime after the last episode when the scribes and Pharisees began lying in wait for Jesus, to “vehemently incite” him and challenge him angrily on whatever he said. On this particular day, thousands were assembled to listen to Jesus talk—so many that they might trample on one another. Jesus had something to say to all of them, and I can imagine they became very quiet as they listened. I wonder if he knew the Pharisees were in the crowd.
Jesus focused that day on something none of us like to consider much. He talked to them about various sources of fear: Fear of being authentic; fear of those who might harm you physically; fear of inadequacy in the face of challenge; fear of financial lack; fear for your physical well-being; fear of the future.
Not what the people came to hear, I would think. But it was obviously important, or Jesus wouldn’t have wasted precious time sharing it. He was sowing seed for a harvest of good. I paraphrase, but let’s listen to some of it:
“Don’t be a hypocrite; be who you really are. You aren’t fooling anybody.”
“The only one you should fear—honour and respect enough to influence all of your choices—is the One who has all the power. And remember, He is also the One who has numbered the hairs on your head. So don’t be afraid; you are obviously precious to Him.”
“Don’t worry about speaking in front of the powerful. Don’t even give it a thought. The Holy Spirit will fill your mouth with the right words.”
“And those provisions you are concerned about? Forget about it! At least, don’t give it a worried thought. Look around you. God has provided each animal and bird with food and covering appropriate for their needs, and you are way more precious than they—yes, you are. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom! (vs 32)”
From such comforting news, Jesus continues talking, but now about something that encourages, but still often strikes fear in those who believe. Regarding the future of this world, Jesus tells them: “Prepare for it. The situation will get worse before it gets better, but I am coming back. When I do, I will right all wrongs, and make everything new. Until then, learn to discern the times. Don’t think you can’t.”
He didn’t continue on that subject, but, as we read elsewhere in scripture, the story of the faithful gets brighter and brighter, until all things are made bright.
It’s why Jesus came.
“The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day,” (Proverbs 4:18)