Apr 22 2013 - Luke 21:1-28 – Not a hair of your head will perish
In Luke 21:12-18 Jesus says:
They will seize you and persecute you. They will … put you in prison, and you will be brought before … governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed … and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
Among the several books I have on the go at the moment is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten-Boom. Corrie, her sister Betsie and their father were betrayed by a fellow Dutchman and imprisoned by the Germans for sheltering Jews and for dealing in stolen ration cards. Their 84-year-old father, Caspar, died after ten days in prison. Corrie and Betsie continued in prison and later were transferred to the concentration camp at Ravensbrook. During all of their imprisonment they suffered cruel and spiteful treatment. Yet Betsie always pitied the guards who treated them so cruelly, pitying them for the darkness that possessed their souls and praying that she and Corrie might be able to teach them to love rather than hate.
Jesus’ words seem to contain a strange contradiction. He says both that “they will put some of you to death” and, “But not a hair of your head will perish.” Betsie died in Ravensbrook but Corrie survived to tell their story. How is it true of Caspar and Betsie that not a hair of their heads will perish? It is true because even in death they are safe. Even though they die, they have won live. They will know the fullness of resurrection life while many of their tormentors will perish.
For at the heart of this paradox is the death of Jesus we have just celebrated at Easter. He was betrayed, tortured and subjected to the most cruel of deaths. Yet his dying marks the death of death, and his rising the beginning of resurrection life for all who trust in him. Because he died for us and is risen for us, we can trust him no matter what circumstances we face and no matter what others may do to us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39).
In a world marked by cruelty and hatred, we need to pray, as Betsie taught Corrie to pray, that the Lord would teach us not to hate but to love those who despise and mistreat us. Such love can transform a twisted world and bring a foretaste of the resurrection world to come.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love for me that has determined to embrace me as your child. Lord Jesus, thank you that you loved me and gave yourself for me and that you continue to intercede for me in glory. Spirit of the living God, thank you for your witness in my heart that I am not an orphan but a cherished member of the family of God. In the light of these things, help me to meet every situation I face with confidence and joy. Help me to pray and live gladly for others knowing that I can trust myself to your care.