Day 11: Luke 12:4-12
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
In today’s reading, Jesus begins to prepare his followers for the hard times that are coming. He tells them not to be afraid of governments or people who persecute them. God cares for them and will give them the words to say when they are attacked. Included in this message is a warning that many find disturbing:
“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
Scholars have debated how one specifically blasphemes the Holy Spirit for centuries, and there is still much disagreement on this phrase. The idea here seems to be that if someone sees Jesus at work and denies that he is the messiah they may later discover the truth and repent, but if someone denounces the work of the Spirit, by that very action they have excluded themselves from being a part of the Spirit’s work.
It is impossible to participate in what the Spirit is doing if we detest the Spirit. As N.T. Wright says, “Once you declare that the spring of fresh water is in fact polluted, you will never drink from it. The one sure thing about this saying is that if someone is anxious about having committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, their anxiety is a clear sign that they have not.”
Justin Lewis | Facilities Director/Young Adult Pastor