“Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
– Matthew 10:28
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells his disciples who he’s sending out … He’s already told them he’s sending them out like sheep in the middle of wolves. He’s talked about the persecution they’re going to face, the threats that will be against them. So you can only imagine they’re afraid of what lies ahead, and then he says these words to them.
If we have already died with Christ and we are so focused on eternity, nothing man can do to us even matters.
This Verse Reminds Us to Fear God and Not Man
Huh. So in the face of fear, this is what Jesus says to these disciples. He knows they will be tempted to fear man and what men can do to them, and Jesus says, “Man is not who you need to be afraid of.” You need to be afraid of God. He is your ultimate judge, and He’s the one who holds your eternity in His hand. Men don’t hold your eternity in their hands. God is the one who holds eternity in His hand.
Matthew 10:28 Reminds Us That the Death of the Body is Not the Worst Fate We Could Face
But when you step back, this is kind of a weird way for Jesus to encourage his disciples. I mean, Jesus is literally saying don’t be afraid of men. The worst thing they can do is kill you. Don’t be afraid of those who can just kill the body. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you is that you could die. People say, “Well, if I go to this place to share the gospel, I could be killed,” and Jesus is saying, “That’s all? Don’t be afraid. All they can do is kill you.”
I mean, does that really sound comforting to us? The reality is the only way that will ever sound comforting to us is if we have already died with Christ and we are so focused on eternity that nothing men can do to us even matters. It was said of saints of old that they feared man so little because they feared God so much. So may that be true of us. May we fear God alone and not fear men. May we not fear what can happen to us, anything that can happen to us in this world, even death itself because we know Jesus has conquered death and he holds our life and our eternity in his hands.
This Verse Reminds Us of Paul’s words in Philippians 1
In the words of Paul in Philippians 1, to live is Christ and to die is gain. So God helps us to live with that kind of confidence. Help us not to fear anything, anything, even death. Help us to live with total confidence in you and your power. We praise you. We are so thankful that you’re the one who holds our eternity in your hands, that no one else has control over that, that you have authority over whether we live or die and you have authority even when we die to bring us to life and to give us eternal life forever and ever and ever.
Prayer for the Strength to Not Fear the World
So please help us to not fear anything in this world. Make us people who live fearless in this world, especially when it comes to spreading the gospel to places and people where it’s hard, difficult, and dangerous to go, as people who’ve been sent out like sheep among wolves, as you’ve told us in your word here in Matthew 10:28, that when we share the gospel, we will experience persecution, that it will not be easy for us.
God, please help us not to shrink back in fear. Help us to step forward in faith, with faith in you and fear of you, that causes us to do whatever you want us to do, to go to wherever you want us to go, to say whatever you call us to say. God help us to live fearless lives of faith in you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.