“Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
Being tongue-tied can happen to all of us. Someone says something to you, and you don’t know how to respond. But what about being speechless with terror in sharing your faith? Jesus gives assurance that even in those situations the Holy Spirit can and will speak through us.
Although Jesus describes a high stakes scene, his promise here recalls promises found in the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophets were moved to speak by the Holy Spirit. This speaking ministry of the Holy Spirit only occurred occasionally in the Old Testament, but the prophet Joel foretells of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on and speak through all of God’s children (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2).
Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit’s work is for ordinary life, but it’s also for times of persecution. Jesus is obviously describing persecution in our passage. And on separate occasions in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit speaks in and through Peter, Stephen, and Paul when their faith is on the line in desperate situations.
We have this same promise of the Spirit’s presence and power in our lives. We may or may not be faced with such difficult circumstances, but we all have the opportunity to point to Jesus every day. And if we face persecution, we can be assured that the Holy Spirit will speak in and through us. That’s a great comfort!
Spirit of God, work in our hearts and give us the right words in all situations, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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