Luke 3:19-20A bit of context to these verses to begin. John the Baptist has been preaching God's word by the Jordan. He's been rebuking the people of their sin and telling them to repent and turn to God. In essence he's been preaching the gospel, even though Jesus hadn't died for sins yet. He trusts in God's promises of salvation and he preaches them.
But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
What happens here is that John comes into contact with Herod, who was one of four governors in the province. He's a very powerful man. But John preaches the same gospel. He tells him he's sinful, using a specific, obvious example and rebukes him, and though it's not written here part of that would most probably be telling him to repent for the forgiveness of sins since that has been his message (see Luke 3:3).
What I want to focus on is that John the Baptist did not fear man.
He knew the truth - everyone sins, and everyone needs the gospel. Everyone needs to repent and put their faith in Jesus because he is the only way that we can be forgiven. We are all in the same boat - no one is better than anyone else, even if they have a 'better' position in society.
The Prime minister of Australia, the President of the United States, the Queen, Your favourite movie actor (e.g. Hugh Jackman), your favourite band, your best friend, the person who lives next to you - everyone is in the same boat. We all sin, we all deserve God's wrath, we all need salvation. Jesus alone can save.
John knew that and he was willing to preach it to Herod because Herod needed to hear it as much as we do.
So my question to you is: Do you fear man?
I know I do.
Here are a few thoughts on some reasons that we fear people so much. They're generalisations and maybe I'm wrong about some:
- We want approval. We want to be liked and we want people to enjoy being around us.
- We love this world. We enjoy our privileges (which is good), but we don't want to give them up for Jesus.
- We don't grasp the significance of sin and hell, so we don't look to tell people of them.
- We don't realise just how much Jesus has saved us from, so we dont value it as much as we should and we don't tell people as much as we should.
- If it's not the above two then we are too selfish: Once saved, we don't look for others who need saving, but sit still and get comfortable in our own salvation.
Maybe not all of those apply to you. I think they all apply to me though.
The challenge has to be: Do you fear man? If not, then are you sharing the gospel? Are you telling people that they are sinful and deserve hell, but that Jesus is God and that through him God's wrath is taken away and we are forgiven?
If, like me, you do fear man then what are you doing about it? Don't let that stop you from sharing the gospel! I've found in my life that the more you do something that scares you, the less scary it becomes. For example at my school we have a school wide assembly every week. Over the last two years I've had to lead some of those assemblies and do some devotions on them. That terrified me to begin with, I was shaking the whole time. Now I get a little nervous, but I'm alright with it.
How do we work at not fearing man and sharing the gospel?
- Spend time praying and in the bible, asking for God's help and seeking encouragement (and rebuke) from his word as to what you need to be changing.
- It takes awhile, but the more you try to share the gospel and take opportunities, the easier it becomes.
- What's better than that is that we have God with us. He protects us and he strengthens us. he will provide what we need to obey him (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- Honour God with what you have and he will work through that.
- Don't feel like you have to become some superhero preacher. God uses the ordinary, the weak, the foolish to shame the strong and wise. Take small steps, pray constantly and just do your best. Even our feeble attempts, if done for God, glorify him.
- Trust God. Don't get all worried about it. Just do your best and trust God.
Do you fear man? Do you share the gospel?
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.