Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.
Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
Just when we are still basking in the afterglow of the Nativity, Stephen enters the scene to remind us of some serious business. Being a follower of Jesus is not only about stars and kings and heavenly hosts making a galactic show for the lowly shepherds. It is also about following Jesus even to the point of death. We may abhor this spoiler during this happy time but the joy of Christmas and the pain of discipleship is closer than what we think. Jesus came not to be happy with us but to suffer for us unto death. And so we take whatever joy that comes our way this season to help us navigate the hardships ahead of following Jesus with courage and faith.
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