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God’s Word for You

Luke 21:12-13 synagogues and prisons

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, February 25, 2019

12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will lead to you bearing witness.

“Before all this occurs” is a reference to the very end of the world: “fearful events but also great signs from heaven.” But Jesus is talking about the end from two different points of view. He is speaking to the apostles about the near future, when they themselves would be arrested and handed over to “synagogues and prisons…kings and governors” (verse 11). But the Lord is also talking to later Christians who would keep on facing similar arrests and accusations, to the very end of the world. Luther faced this when he was brought before the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521, facing the Holy Roman Emperor (Charles V) and the envoys of the Pope along with many other political and religious authorities. Luther stood alone, and with a world-changing speech (“Here I stand. God help me. Amen”), made the Lutheran Reformation a purely religious movement with no ties to governments of any kind anywhere.

This will happen again. Another day will come when the courts of nations condemn true Christians for their beliefs. We might be fined, jailed, imprisoned, or punished in other ways. We may not be allowed to speak on our behalf. We may not be allowed to communicate with the outside world unless it is by scrawled notes passed to a half-trusted guard. Our property could be confiscated, and Bible-believing churches will doubtless be sued into bankruptcy while heretical congregations manage to survive by means of double-talk and by denying the truth. But Jesus comforts us: “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days [that is to say, a comparatively short time]. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Why will God allow Christians to be imprisoned and to suffer in this way? The Lord’s goal is always the spread of the gospel. Jesus says: “This will lead to you bearing witness.” Whatever happens to his servants, he does not desire their harm, but he does desire that his gospel will be proclaimed. So if you find yourself in a position to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, seize the moment.

Live your life with the word of God always present. You do not need to copy it onto little scraps of paper posted here and there in your house, but copy it out, word for word and letter for letter, in the confines of your mind. Commit it to your memory, especially the gospel of forgiveness, so that if anyone ever asks about the reason for your faith, you will be “prepared to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15). Have the word of God ready and on the tip of your tongue, primed like an old flintlock rifle and ready to be fired off when needed. Use Peter’s words, if you can, simple and direct: “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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