Imitate Jesus—Preach With Boldness
“We mustered up boldness . . . to speak to you the good news.”—1 THESS. 2:2.
1. Why is the good news of the Kingdom so appealing?
HOW pleasant it is to hear good news! And the best news of all is the good news of God’s Kingdom. This good news assures us of an end to suffering, sickness, pain, sorrow, and death. It opens the way to everlasting life, reveals God’s purpose, and shows us how to come into a loving relationship with him. You would think that everyone would rejoice to hear this news that Jesus shared with mankind. Sadly, though, that is not the case.
2. Explain Jesus’ statement: “I came to cause division.”
2 Jesus told his disciples: “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” (Matt. 10:34-36) Instead of embracing the good news, most people reject it. Some make themselves enemies of those who proclaim it, even if they are close family members.
3. In carrying out our assignment to preach, what do we need?
3 We proclaim the same truths that Jesus did, and upon hearing them, people react to us today as many did to him back then. This is to be expected. Jesus said to his disciples: “A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) In many lands we do not face outright persecution, but we do meet with disdain and apathy. Consequently, we need faith and courage to endure in our work of preaching the good news with boldness.—Read 2 Peter 1:5-8.
4. Why did Paul need to ‘muster up boldness’ to preach?
4 Perhaps you at times find it hard to share in the ministry, or some aspect of it may seem intimidating. If so, you are in good company. The apostle Paul was a bold and fearless preacher who had an excellent grasp of the truth, yet even he had times when it was a struggle for him to preach. To the Christians in Thessalonica, Paul wrote: “After we had first suffered and been insolently treated (just as you know) in Philippi, we mustered up boldness by means of our God to speak to you the good news of God with a great deal of struggling.” (1 Thess. 2:2) In Philippi the authorities had beaten Paul and his companion Silas with rods, thrown them into prison, and confined them in stocks. (Acts 16:16-24) Even so, Paul and Silas “mustered up boldness” to continue preaching. How can we do the same? To answer, let us consider what enabled servants of God in Bible times to speak with boldness the truth about Jehovah, and let us learn how we can imitate their example.
Boldness Needed to Face Enmity
5. Why has boldness always been needed by those loyal to Jehovah?
5 The supreme example of courage and boldness was, of course, Jesus Christ. Still, since the beginning of human history, boldness has always been needed by all of those loyal to Jehovah. Why so? Following the rebellion in Eden, Jehovah foretold that there would be enmity between those who served God and those who served Satan. (Gen. 3:15) This enmity quickly became evident when Abel, a righteous man, was killed by his brother. Later, enmity was directed against Enoch, another faithful man who lived before the Flood. He prophesied that God would come with His holy myriads to execute judgment against the ungodly. (Jude 14, 15) This message was certainly not a popular one. People hated Enoch and evidently would have murdered him had Jehovah not cut his life short. What boldness Enoch displayed!—Gen. 5:21-24.
6. Why did Moses need boldness in speaking to Pharaoh?
6 Think, too, of the boldness that Moses showed in speaking to Pharaoh, a ruler who was viewed, not as a mere representative of the gods, but as a god himself, the son of the sun god Ra. It may be that he, like other Pharaohs, worshipped his own image. Pharaoh’s word was law; he ruled by decree. Powerful, arrogant, and stubborn, Pharaoh was not accustomed to having others tell him what to do. It was before this man that Moses, a meek shepherd, appeared repeatedly—unbidden and unwelcome. And what did Moses foretell? Devastating plagues. And what did he demand? Permission for several million of Pharaoh’s slaves to leave the country! Did Moses need boldness? Absolutely!—Num. 12:3; Heb. 11:27.
7, 8. (a) What trials befell faithful ones of long ago? (b) What enabled those in pre-Christian times to show boldness in upholding and promoting pure worship?
7 During the centuries that followed, prophets and other faithful servants of God continued to take a courageous stand for pure worship. Satan’s world was not kind to them. Paul states: “They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment.” (Heb. 11:37) What helped those loyal servants of God to stand firm? A few verses earlier, the apostle noted what had given Abel, Abraham, Sarah, and others the strength to endure. He stated: “They did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but [in faith] they saw them afar off and welcomed [“embraced,” ftn.] them.” (Heb. 11:13) No doubt, such prophets as Elijah, Jeremiah, and other faithful ones of pre-Christian times who boldly stood up for true worship were likewise helped to endure by keeping their eyes fixed on Jehovah’s promises.—Titus 1:2.
8 Those faithful ones of pre-Christian times looked to a bright and appealing future. Upon being resurrected, they will eventually reach perfection and be “set free from enslavement to corruption” through the priestly services of Christ Jesus and his 144,000 underpriests. (Rom. 8:21) Moreover, Jeremiah and other bold servants of God in ancient times took courage because of Jehovah’s assurance, reflected in his promise to Jeremiah: “They will be certain to fight against you, but they will not prevail against you, for ‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’” (Jer. 1:19) Today, when we reflect on God’s promises for our future and his assurance of spiritual protection, we are likewise strengthened.—Prov. 2:7; read 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18.
Love Motivated Jesus to Preach Boldly
9, 10. In what ways did Jesus show boldness in front of (a) the religious leaders, (b) a band of soldiers, (c) the high priest, (d) Pilate?
9 Our Exemplar, Jesus, demonstrated his boldness in various ways. For instance, though hated by those having power and influence, Jesus did not water down what God wanted people to know. He fearlessly exposed the powerful religious leaders for their self-righteousness as well as for their false teachings. Those men stood condemned, and Jesus told them so in words both direct and unmistakable. On one occasion, he said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In that way you also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”—Matt. 23:27, 28.
10 Confronted by a band of soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus courageously identified himself to them. (John 18:3-8) Later he was led before the Sanhedrin and questioned by the high priest. Even though he knew that the high priest was looking for a pretext to kill him, Jesus fearlessly affirmed that He was both Christ and the Son of God. He added that they would see him “sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:53, 57-65) Shortly thereafter, Jesus stood bound before Pilate, who could have freed him. But Jesus remained silent in response to the accusations against him. (Mark 15:1-5) All of this took much courage.
11. How is boldness related to love?
11 To Pilate, Jesus did say: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) Jehovah had commissioned Jesus to preach the good news, and Jesus delighted to do so because he loved his heavenly Father. (Luke 4:18, 19) Jesus also had love for the people. He knew their lives were difficult. Likewise, our bold and fearless witnessing is deeply rooted in love of God and love of neighbor.—Matt. 22:36-40.
Holy Spirit Empowers Us to Preach Boldly
12. What brought joy to the early disciples?
12 In the weeks following the death of Jesus, the disciples came to have reason to rejoice as Jehovah joined to them those being saved. Why, on just one day, some 3,000 Jews and proselytes from many lands who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost were baptized! What talk this must have generated in that Jewish stronghold! The Bible says: “Fear began to fall upon every soul, and many portents and signs began to occur through the apostles.”—Acts 2:41, 43.
13. Why did the brothers pray for boldness, and with what result?
13 Infuriated, the religious leaders arrested Peter and John, held them in custody overnight, and ordered them not to speak about Jesus. Upon being released, the two reported to the brothers what had occurred, and they all prayed about the opposition they faced, requesting: “Jehovah, . . . grant your slaves to keep speaking your word with all boldness.” The result? “They were one and all filled with the holy spirit and were speaking the word of God with boldness.”—Acts 4:24-31.
14. How does the holy spirit assist us in our preaching?
14 Notice that it was Jehovah’s powerful holy spirit that helped the disciples speak God’s word with boldness. The courage to speak the truth to others, even to those who oppose our message, does not rest with us. Jehovah can and will give us his holy spirit if we ask him to do so. With Jehovah’s help, we too can demonstrate the boldness needed to come off victorious in the face of any opposition.—Read Psalm 138:3.
Christians Today Preach With Boldness
15. How does the truth divide people today?
15 In our day, as in times past, the truth continues to divide people. Some respond favorably, while others neither understand nor appreciate our form of worship. Some criticize, ridicule, or even hate us, just as Jesus foretold. (Matt. 10:22) At times, we are the target of misinformation and malicious propaganda through the media. (Ps. 109:1-3) Yet, throughout the earth, Jehovah’s people boldly declare the good news.
16. What experience shows that boldness can change the view of those to whom we preach?
16 Our boldness may cause people to change their view of the Kingdom message. A sister in Kyrgyzstan relates: “While I was out in the preaching work, one householder told me: ‘I believe in God but not in the Christian God. If you come to this gate again, I will set my dog on you!’ Behind him was a large bulldog on a chain. But during the campaign to distribute Kingdom News No. 37, ‘The End of False Religion Is Near!,’ I decided to return to the same house in hopes of meeting one of the other members of that man’s family. However, the same man opened the door. I quickly prayed to Jehovah and then said: ‘Hello, I remember our conversation of three days ago, and I also remember your dog. But I couldn’t pass you by because just like you, I believe in the one true God. God will soon punish religions that dishonor him. You can learn more about it by reading this.’ To my amazement, the man accepted the Kingdom News. Then I went to another house. A few minutes later, the man came running after me with the Kingdom News in his hand. ‘I read it,’ he said. ‘What do I need to do so that I do not suffer God’s wrath?’” A study was started with the man, and he began attending Christian meetings.
17. How did the boldness of a sister strengthen a fearful Bible student?
17 Our boldness can also encourage others to be bold. In Russia a sister traveling by bus offered a magazine to a fellow passenger. At that, a man leaped from his seat, grabbed the magazine out of the sister’s hands, crumpled it, and flung it to the floor. Cursing her loudly, he demanded the sister’s address and warned her not to preach in the village. The sister prayed to Jehovah for help and reminded herself of Jesus’ words: “Do not become fearful of those who kill the body.” (Matt. 10:28) Calmly, she stood up and said to the man, “I will not give you my address, and I will continue to preach in the village.” Then she got off the bus. Unbeknownst to the sister, a Bible student of hers happened to be on the same bus. That woman had allowed fear of man to prevent her from attending Christian meetings. After observing the boldness of our sister, however, the Bible student decided that she would begin to attend meetings.
18. What will help you to preach with boldness, as Jesus did?
18 In this world alienated from God, it takes boldness to preach as Jesus did. What will help you to do so? Look to the future. Keep strong your love of God and neighbor. Pray to Jehovah for courage. Always remember, you are never on your own, for Jesus is with you. (Matt. 28:20) Holy spirit will strengthen you. And Jehovah will bless and support you. Therefore, may we be of good courage and say: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”—Heb. 13:6.
How Would You Respond?
• Why is boldness needed by God’s servants?
• As to being bold, what do we learn from . . .
faithful ones who lived before Christ?
the early Christians?
fellow Christians today?
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Jesus fearlessly exposed the religious leaders
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Jehovah gives us the courage to preach