Following on from last week’s verse about Jesus’ disciples being guaranteed to experience a whole world of trouble, Jesus then said:
Now, there is a lot to pick at with this verse. I could look at rejoicing and being glad in times of trouble, or I could look at the promise of eternal rewards in heaven, but what grabs my attention the most is the bit about the ‘prophets before you.’
You see, the Prophets of the Jewish faith were special men and women in history who had the Spirit-given power and responsibility of speaking on behalf of God. The Prophets had been a crucial part of Israel’s history, they were the guiding voice reminding, encouraging and sometimes pleading, people to follow God. They were always there when the people needed them, in times of prosperity and disaster. Even when Judah was destroyed and it’s people captured by invading forces the Prophets like Daniel, Ezekiel and Jeremiah were with them giving them hope of a better future.
Then suddenly around 430 BC the line of Prophets ended. They just stopped appearing. After Malachi nobody rose up and told the people what God was saying. Israel was left without a prophet for about 400 years.
Then suddenly John the Baptist is preaching and baptizing people in the River Jordan, and he is saying the Messiah is about to come. Then Jesus’ ministry begins with miracles and teaching unlike anything that has come before. Can you imagine how exciting and monumental a time this was? After 400 years of heavenly silence, God was speaking again to His people!
And now here is Jesus, addressing a crowd and explaining that the people who choose to follow Him, are going to face the same trials and rewards of the Prophets of Israel’s history. The people have waited 400 years for the next prophet and now Jesus is commissioning a host of people to carry the prophetic burden of proclaiming the Word of God.
Except this time, instead of Prophets having individual messages from God about specific circumstances in Israel, Jesus was about to commission apostles to deliver The Good News for people of every nation. This verse is Jesus hinting at a huge shift that was about to take place in Salvation history.
From this time on, the people would not have to wait 400 years for the next Prophet to come along, instead every believer in Christ will have the power and responsibility of proclaiming the Life-giving word of God!
It amazes and humbles me that I can join the ranks of people throughout history who have shared the Word of God. So often, I am scared of bungling the delivery, or offending people, that I back out of sharing what I know about Jesus. This week, as I think about this verse I am going to pray that I will be bolder and wiser in talking about Jesus.