Scripture never ceases to surprise me: “they will put some of you to death. (…) But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (v.16b, 18-19)
How can somebody be put to death without a hair of their head perishing? What does it mean to gain our souls? But far more disturbing is the question whether the lack of persecution indicates a lack of properly living out the name of Jesus Christ.
Current culture is intrigued by apocalypse; many films show the earthquakes, famines, plagues, dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. In a certain sense there is a feel that it might be “near” (in more senses than just time) and there is fear.
In this passage Jesus warns against talking about “the time is near”; Jesus also warns against being terrified. Those who come in Jesus’ name do not make great claims about themselves, they do not point to the end and they are not afraid, not even of persecution. Persecution will just give them the opportunity to witness and gain their life (better translation for psuché than soul).
The deep safety that comes with following Jesus that reaches beyond the chaos of war and famine, or Brexit and climate change; that reaches beyond persecution and even death is in the experience of your hairs being counted (Luke 12:7) and the recognition that losing your life is a sure way to gain it (Luke 9:24).
13 November 2016
Luke 21: 5-19
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.