Always the Teacher of theological life, Christ was preparing His disciples for "that very hour".
This time, He was not in the intimate setting to which they were accustomed. They had just finished witnessing yet another victorious battle with the Pharisees and the Scribes, but the environment was becoming increasingly dangerous and threatening for Christ, and for those who were His followers.
Thousands were gathering this day; so many that they risked being crushed in order to hear Him. His safety continued to diminish as confrontations with the Pharisees became more numerous.
He accused the Pharisees of being like "leaven" which gives a peculiar taste, and that they came secretly into rooms of the common people, under the cover of darkness.
They do this, He said, all under the appearance of holiness; and it is in this context that He used the word hypocrisy.
He dealt with the Pharisees publicly. It was time to address His followers. Take note: what was spoken then for His disciples was meant also for His believers today.
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear..." Do not be afraid. He began with an exhortation against dread: Because you are my friends, do not be afraid of anyone, even those who kill the body.
Let us carefully look at what Christ emphasized: What more can be done after they kill one's body? Ah, what more can one fear, and from whom?
"Fear Him, who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell." This sober warning dramatically revealed the Power of Almighty God.
"Yes, I tell you, fear Him!"
What does it mean to fear God in the sense that Christ was speaking in this setting, in this environment?
Remember, the multitudes of followers and His disciples watched Christ's opposition to His adversaries. His outspokenness invited more threatening gestures from the Pharisees; they were closing in.
Christ responded rapidly to His disciples' concerns for their own safety.
Consider: certainly they, too, were exposed. Would it not have entered their minds that if the persecution of Christ were life threatening, their own lives as well were in jeopardy?
Do we not think as did the disciples of Christ? Whom do we fear ~ men or God?
Have no fear of men. Fear God alone. To fear God is simply to abandon yourself to Him before whom no one is forgotten.
Are not five sparrows sold for two coins? and not one of them is forgotten before God? All the same, in the eyes of God, you are quite another thing than small birds.
Even the existence of little sparrows is thought by Him; not one of these beings is forgotten before God. We have nothing to fear. If we are righteous before the Lord, He does not forget.
"Fear not! You are of more value than many sparrows."