24“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”
Previously Jesus spoke about persecutions that will come on those who would follow him. They will be rejected and persecuted because of his name.
This same theme is carried through in this passage. Jesus' first point here is that if people/authorities have labeled Jesus "Beelzebul," that is, the Devil, then of course those who identify with Jesus will be called bad names as well. The way the teacher's been treated will be the same way the disciples will be treated.
Don't be surprised at the maltreatment, Jesus is warning them, in other words.
The real comfort that Jesus gives those who are slandered because of their discipleship to Jesus is that in the end everything will be revealed. The lies, the secrets, the betrayals, the deceptions, the duplicity will all be laid bare. They will be uncovered. The secrets will be made known. The truth will indeed set everyone free.
In this life we do fear people who can harm us physically and who can harm us through slander and false accusations. We do fear unjust powers and compromised political authorities. But, the Lord is saying, don't be afraid of these. They do not warrant true fear. The only true fear is the One Who Can Judge. This Judge possesses the power to destroy soul and body in hell. These are the exact words of Jesus -- "rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." It is hard to exegete or interpret away these words. The Son of God's power to judge actually brings encouragement and strength. The Lord's vindication and the righting of wrongs become the source of the sufferer's comfort and hope.
The last word will be delivered by someone -- the One Who is Worthy to Deliver the Last Word. This is our Teacher, our Lord, our Savior, our Friend, our God.
Herein lies our true peace. When the dust settles, all will be clear. We look forward to that day.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the comfort and assurance that all the injustices in this world will not have the last word, but you will -- your truth and judgment. Comfort those around the world who feel that no one sees what's going on. Assure those around the world whose names are slandered and whose lives are threatened. May your vindication on that Day bring forth hope even in these last days. In your name, amen.