22 June 2014

Matthew 10:24-39

“So have no fear of them” (v. 26)


If I was to ask you what is the most repeated command in the Bible what you would say? It is, in fact, the command we find in verses 26, 28 and 31 of Matthew 10 - "Do not be afraid." This command figures quite prominently in the Christmas story: Zechariah (Luke 1:13); Mary (Luke 1:30); Joseph (Matthew 1:20) and the shepherds (Luke 2:10), where it is associated with the appearance of an angel or a messenger from God.

In Matthew 10:16-25 Jesus makes a rather full list of people and situations the disciples do not need to fear. To the eyes of the 21st-century reader and I am sure to the ears of his followers this seems to be quite a fearful list, so why should they not be afraid? The answer Jesus gives in verses 26-27 is still rather alarming: "for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing is secret that will not become known". What does Jesus mean by this? It sounds like all our deepest secrets and private actions will suddenly be laid bare for all to see. That is rather scary and an excellent cause to be afraid!

However, what Jesus is actually promising his disciples is that the truth will out,and their words and actions as faithful followers of Jesus will be seen for what they are - in spite of what their enemies say about them. They will be recognised as men and women of God; there is nothing to be afraid of there.

The most reassuring part of this passage comes in verses 29-31. While we are to fear those who try to destroy our souls (verse 28), those fears should not overwhelm us because God knows us so well and cares for us so much that "the hairs on our head are all counted"! So we don't have to be afraid even in the most dire of circumstances.

To Ponder

  • What is your deepest fear? In what ways does this passage help you to reframe your fear?
  • What does it mean to you that God knows you so well that "even the hairs on your head are counted"?

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.