Scripture: When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:19-20, 29-31 ESV
Observation: Having warned his disciples to be ready for persecution, Jesus immediately assures them of his Father’s soul care. In particular, Christ affirms that the Holy Spirit will guide their thoughts and inspire appropriate responses to interrogators (vv.19-20 above). If they persevere, they will undoubtedly escape death—if not in this life, then for all eternity. Thus, his disciples must resist caving to fear and anxiety and lean on his promises.
To illustrate this point, Jesus revisits an earlier illustration (from his Sermon on the Mount, 6:25-32) regarding the Father’s care of the birds of the air. Here, Jesus reminds them that their Father cares for even the diminutive sparrow (v.29). Moreover, he knows every detail of Jesus’s disciples’ human existence (even the number of hairs atop their heads (v30). So fear not those who can merely take a mortal life. Instead, fear their all-knowing God, who can destroy their bodies and souls (v.28).
Takeaway: As noted in yesterday’s Daily Focus, the Twelve would succumb to their fear of persecution and abandon Jesus when he most needed their prayerful care (Mark 14:32-51). But their risen Lord would make good on his promise and restore their downtrodden hearts in an upper room where they fearfully huddled in prayer. Understanding what they needed most in this time of distress, Christ pronounced shalom peace and breathed his Spirit on their weary souls. And as part of their restoration, Jesus reminded them of the focus of their mission: the extension of forgiveness (see John 20:19-23).
Still, more was to come. With the ascended Son of God and the descended Holy Spirit indwelling them and interceding on their behalf (Romans 8:26-27), he would continue to provide soul care to ensure the perseverance of his saints (John 10:28-30). And his Holy Spirit would remind them of his glorious promises when most needed so that they would press through trials and tribulations, and even martyrdom.
Our takeaway? It is no different for our loved ones or us who know and love Jesus. He and his Spirit indwell and intercede for us according to the Father’s will, helping us in our weaknesses. Indeed, as Paul adds, our Father responds to their divine petitions and works all things for our good (Romans 8:28). Therefore, we can rest in the assurance that nothing can separate us from their love and hence find the strength to rise above tribulation (Romans 9:31-38). So what is our part? Like the disciples, we receive and extend Christ’s grace (highlighted by forgiveness and reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21), which flows through us to others and empowers the family of God to rise above suffering and persecution and be even “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:38). Now that’s soul care!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the gifts of your Son and Holy Spirit, who, together, are working in us a deeper understanding and reliance on your grace as our means of soul care. So would you please help us to become channels of divine soul care, extending your grace to others who desperately need a future and hope in your inseparable love? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling