“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:24-33)
No matter how bad a mess we make, Jesus will help us clean it up. In the context of Jesus sending his disciples out to proclaim the soon coming of the kingdom of God, Jesus gave them a warning. Don’t be afraid of people, be afraid of God.
Jesus told his disciples that those who denied him before men, he would deny before his Father in heaven. But consider that Peter denied Jesus not once, but three times before a rooster crowed.
Did Jesus deny Peter before his Father? And if so, what does that mean? Since Peter was forgiven and restored after his denial, denial can be forgiven. It’s not a one way ticket to Hell. Just because we didn’t stand up for Jesus today, doesn’t mean we can’t do it tomorrow. What Peter did in a moment of terror did not render him unfit for eternity. Our fear of someone who threatens our life may sometimes overwhelm our fear of God who can do far worse to us. Jesus knew that, and so he warned his disciples. Being human, they were able to keep their perspective better at some times than at others. But Jesus was quick to forgive them when they lost perspective about who to fear. So we can’t be any worse Christians than Jesus’ first disciples. And as bad as they sometimes were, they still turned the world upside down. We can, too.