Dear Student of the Word,
I am making good progress as I edit my New Testament Bible studies, at this point focusing on Luke's gospel. I am in the final editing process for my study in Acts, so I am immersed in Luke's writing these days. In this week's study in Luke, we will look at Jesus' addressing the leaders in Israel and warning the people against both the leaders and the work of the devil. whom Jesus saw as a real threat and not some figment of mankind's imagination. I wrote in part 5 of this week's seven-part study the following commentary (you can download the entire transcript of study 19 below):
Study Nineteen, Part Five
4 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
v. 4 – In previous studies, I confessed that I have often been afraid of men and worked for their approval, often at the expense of God’s approval. Jesus said this in the context of his negative remarks about the Pharisees and experts in the Law. He was urging His disciples to fear the one with true power, not those who could only take their lives.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short” (Revelation 12:11-12).
v. 5 – Jesus told His followers to fear the devil, whose damage has eternal not just physical implications. I try never to address the devil, rebuke the devil, or mock him. He is a formidable spiritual opponent and I am powerless against him without Jesus. In fact, I am not very “devil-conscious” at all, but I am very “God-conscious.”
Yet, the verses from Revelation above tell us how we will overcome the devil. We will be victorious by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our salvation testimony. We will trust in the blood of the Lamb so comprehensively and speak so fearlessly that we will be victorious, even if we are put to death.
Even the writer of Revelation warned against the fury of Satan. He is a marvelous spiritual being who is crafty and relentless. Fear not, however, for Jesus overcame the devil and if you are in Jesus, you did too.
v. 6 – God is awesome. No one and nothing escapes His notice and care. He is intimately acquainted not just with you and me, but with all of His creation. It has not grown to a size that is too much for Him to comprehend or control. That should give you tremendous comfort in the midst of whatever circumstances you are going through. God is in control.
v. 7 – What’s more, God knows how many hairs are on your head! (studies show that there about 180,000 for a blond, 200,000 for a redhead and 220,000 for a brunette). With day-to-day hair loss, the number is always changing, but God always knows how many hairs we have at any given time. That should give you confidence that nothing escapes God’s notice, so fear not.
Keep in mind that Jesus was warning His disciples against their current leadership. I must assume then that Jesus was warning them not to be afraid of the Pharisees, who may kill them but cannot do them eternal harm. Are you afraid of your leadership at work or in church? Then Jesus has a word for you —“Don’t be afraid!”
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the daily devotional entitled The Leadership Walk. Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy this study of Luke's gospel from God's word.