God’s Word for You
Luke 21:14-15 I will give you words
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 26, 2019
14 So make up your minds not to worry ahead of time how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to contradict or resist.
Jesus is comforting his apostles, and also future witnesses, who might possibly be people like you or me. He knows that there will be times when his servants will be in prison. He wants them and us not to worry about what to say. This is not a command, but a gospel reassurance. He wants us to think about him and our faith in him. Answers will be supplied by the Master, not the servant. Consider the example of the Apostle Paul. When he was in prison, he sang hymns (Acts 16:25). He didn’t fret about his upcoming trial. When it came time to speak in court, he didn’t let anything as trivial as the trumped-up charges get in the way. He preached the gospel, because he knew that this is what God wanted him to do. So if a Christian is put into prison because of his faith (not because of his sins or crimes), he doesn’t need to worry about what to say or how to defend himself. Jesus will give him “words and wisdom.”
We must realize something about this passage: it is about the proclamation of the gospel, not the acquittal of the accused. Paul did not survive his final imprisonment. Was this because of some flaw in Paul’s faith? Not at all. Was Stephen stoned to death because of some error he made in his theology? Not at all. Paul, Stephen, Peter, and all the other martyrs were killed because of the sins of their killers and because of the rage of the devil. But the gospel was proclaimed, and the church of Jesus Christ is the better for their testimony. If I am to be imprisoned because of my faith, then that is to God’s glory. If I were to be executed without any chance to speak either on my behalf or God’s, then that would glorify God because I would still stand as a witness to my faith. If I were to be able to speak before my execution, then that would glorify God, too, because I would be able to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Another question is whether this passage means that we will receive divine inspiration in such a moment. It can’t mean anything less. This passage says the same thing along those lines as Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 12:11-12, and Mark 13:11, all of which promise that “you will be given what to say.” But not all inspired words from God are for public record (Scripture) or proclamation. Sometimes God gave a message to one believer at a moment when it was necessary, and then commanded that believer not to spread that message to the world. For example, in Revelation 10:4, John says: “when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.’” Also, Paul wrote an Epistle to the Laodiceans which was for the benefit of both the Laodiceans and the Colossians (Colossians 4:16), but which has not come down to us. The genuine letter was not kept for either the Scriptures nor for posterity, and only a spurious and unreliable forgery has ever been circulated, mostly made up of fragments of Philippians, although some scholars think that Paul might have meant that the Laodiceans had a copy of another of his letters, such as Ephesians, and that he wanted the Colossians to read it, too.
Be comforted, even in the most severe trials. Jesus promises to be with us always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20), and that means even in the very darkest moments of your life. How much more will he be with you in all those moments that are merely difficult. He will be with you always, and forever.
Pastor Timothy Smith