Jesus has something very specific in mind that is threatened by fear and advanced by courage. He says in Matthew 10:27-28, "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear… " In other words, the fear Jesus focuses on in this passage is the fear of speaking clearly (in the light) and openly (on the housetops) when that speaking might get you in trouble. So here's the demand: "Don't be afraid to speak clearly and openly what I have taught you, even if it costs you your life." The rest of Jesus' words here are motivation—-five reasons why we should have courage in the cause of truth.
They Will Malign You Like They Did Jesus
First, notice the word "so" or "therefore" at the beginning of Matthew 10:26: "So [therefore] have no fear of them." In other words, fearlessness flows from what Jesus just said—-namely, "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household." How does that help make us fearless?
Jesus reasoning seems to go like this: "Your mistreatment for speaking the truth is not some unexpected, random, meaningless experience; instead it's the same way they treated me, and so it's a sign that you belong to me. So don't be afraid of the names they call you when you speak out plainly. Those very names bind you and me together."
Nothing Is Covered That Will Not Be Revealed
Second, notice the word "for" in the middle of that same verse 26.1 "So have no fear of them; for [here comes the second reason not to be afraid] nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." How does that help us overcome fear and be courageous in the cause of truth?
It helps us by assuring us that the truth we are speaking will triumph. It will be vindicated in the end. People may reject it now. They may call it demonic. They may cast it out. They may try to bury it and hide it from the world and pretend that it does not exist. But Jesus says, "Take heart in the cause of truth, because in the end all truth will be revealed. All reality will be uncovered. And those who spoke it with clarity and openness will be vindicated."
Fear Not, You Can Only Be Killed!
Third, Jesus says, fear not, you can only be killed! "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matt. 10:28). In other words, the worst thing your opponents can do to you when you speak the truth is kill your body. And that leaves the soul untouched and happy in God forever. But if you keep silent, if you forsake the path of truth and fall in love with the praise of men, you could lose your very soul. If you want to fear something, fear that (see Demand #11). But don't fear what man can do to you. All he can do is dispatch your soul to paradise. Fear not.
Even the Hairs of Your Head Are All Numbered
Fourth, don't fear to speak the truth, but be courageous and speak clearly and openly because God is giving close and intimate attention to all you do. Matthew 10:30 means at least that much. Jesus says, "Even the hairs of your head are all numbered." In other words, the suffering you may undergo in speaking the truth is not because God is disinterested in you or unfamiliar with your plight. He is close enough to separate one hair from another and give each one a number. Fear not; he is close. He is interested; he cares. Be of good courage, and speak the truth whatever the cost.
Not One of Them Will Fall to the Ground Without Your Father's Will
Finally, fear not because God will not let anything happen to you apart from his gracious will. "You are of more value than many sparrows." "Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will" (Matt. 10:29 [RSV], 31). Jesus' point is: God governs the world right down to the smallest events like birds falling to the ground. Therefore, no harm can befall you but what God wills.
This confidence has given great courage to the followers of Jesus for centuries. Many have spoken in the words of missionary Henry Martyn, "If [God] has work for me to do, I cannot die." We are immortal until the work God has for us is done.
So Do Not Fear the Face of Any Man
Therefore, the demand of Jesus stands, and there is sufficient reason to obey it with joy and courage. Don't be anxious about the ordinary needs of life, and don't fear the threats of man. Don't yield to the spirit of the age that woos us into peaceful silence when the truth is being trampled. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth," Jesus said. "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). Not the sword of steel, but the sword of truth that gives life to all who believe. Love the truth, therefore, and what you learn from Jesus in the solitude speak from the housetop.
And do not fear the face of any man.
—John Piper, What Jesus Demands from the World (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006), 121-124.
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