When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.
The concept of believers suffering for the cause of Christ is no revelation to the Church. From biblical martyrs in the days of old to our brothers and sisters suffering in many countries today, we see that what Jesus taught us is true. He told us that the world would hate us even more than it hated him, and we know how the world treated him. His disciples witnessed first-hand what it meant to stand for truth at that time in that place, and it is understandable the fear that they must have felt knowing the calling on their lives to continue the work of Jesus after his ascension. Their having to defend their faith in the face of mass opposition would not have been an infrequent occurrence. They would have expected to be placed in the hot seat regularly. In fact, the scripture does not say “if you are brought”, it says “when you are brought”.
What makes people fear persecution from the world is our lack of confidence in the power to sustain it faithfully, even to death. A common concern is whether we have the wherewithal to continue to confess the truth of Jesus Christ when pressured to buckle and deny him. Today’s scripture reminds us that our successful defense of the truth during times of trial and tribulation is not the result of our own power. We do not have the spiritual stamina to remain steadfast. That is a given. We require empowering by the Holy Spirit to achieve this. We are not told that this power is available to us if needed. He does not sit back and merely step in if we cannot defend ourselves successfully. This verse tells us that the Holy Spirit will step in and defend us as the default. We need not even devise a plan for our defense. We have an ally who has already formulated a perfect plan. We need merely allow him to execute it during such times and speak the words He gives us.
This is one of many things that we can be grateful does not rely on our strength and ability. Our success in remaining faithful during times of persecution is dependent on our allowing the Holy Spirit to come to our defense without impeding him. He knows that these times will come, and He knows where and when they will happen. He is prepared with the right defense regardless of who our opponent is. Whether we come up against religious leaders, political leaders or the great minds of our time, the Spirit of God himself will come to our defense because it is God who is being defended. The world does not persecute us; it persecutes our Savior. Of course his Holy Spirit will come to his defense. Father, thank You for the trials that allow your Holy Spirit to work in us to your defense, and make us wise to step back and allow You to take the lead during these times.