You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. But even though, because of my name, you will be hated by everyone, not a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance you will save your souls.
A lot of leaders, especially political leaders, attract followers by making all kinds of promises involving a golden future, with all problems solved as if by magic. They thus succeed in making themselves popular and acclaimed. And why not? Who doesn’t like to think of the future in glowing terms?
In that respect, Jesus is strikingly different from such incurable optimists. His honesty is brutal. Far from promising a path of roses to his followers, he promises them contradictions, persecutions, betrayals on the part of loved ones, and even death. It is difficult for anyone to be more plain-spoken in announcing hardships of every kind, including martyrdom. Yet, in the very act of doing this, he remains strangely serene, as if the outcome of all he announces will eventually turn out to be entirely positive.
He even says something apparently contradictory: that some will die, and yet not a hair of their head will perish. He probably means that some will lose a lot more than their hair, but that eventually they will regain hair and lives in an eternity of glory. And this, of course, is well worth a few hairs…