In the gospel reading from Mark today,  Jesus is talking with his disciples about something that is going to happen in the future.  There have been volumes written about when this time will come, and, ultimately, people can get lost in the details about it.  I think what’s important to realize that Jesus is talking about something that will happen, whether it be in 5, 15, or 500 years, it doesn’t really matter.  The lessons we learn from what he says is still the same.  Here’s what Jesus has to say at this point:

For the Good News must first be preached to all nations. But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:10-11).

I imagine this was not welcome news for the disciples.  After all, they are still thinking along the lines that Jesus is going to claim the throne of Israel and lead the nation into a new Golden Age.  The idea of them getting arrested and standing trial would not be a welcome one, because it means that everything doesn’t necessarily go as planned.  Some of them will get arrested.  Whatever their role may be, not all of them are going to get through it without incident.  Of course, if they are planning on a revolution, maybe they are expecting it.

However, the part that really stands out to me is when Jesus tells them not to worry in advance about what to say.  Now, I imagine there have been more than a handful of pastors through the years that have used this verse to excuse poor sermon preparation, but I don’t believe that this is what Jesus is trying to convey.  After all, preparation is not the enemy of the Holy Spirit.

The role that the disciples will play is to spread the gospel, and there will be some who won’t like it.  They will be arrested for the things that they are saying, and they will have to stand up for themselves before judges.  It is in those times that they need to remember what Jesus says.  Simply, relax.  When we get anxious about what we are saying, who are we thinking about?  Ourselves.  However the message that we have to share is not about us – it’s about the love that God has for others.  We we speak from that place, we don’t have to be anxious; we don’t have to worry.  God will be there with us.