“Why are you so afraid?” Has anyone ever asked you this question? Have you ever asked it of yourself? Jesus asked it in Mark 4:40. In the last post, Jesus said we are to be courageous. Now, we turn over the coin and look at the opposite of courage: being afraid. It turns out that in the four gospels, there are many, many more scriptures where Jesus said we should not be afraid compared to Jesus telling us to be courageous. I think He knows we are more prone to one than the other.
Fear is the Opposite of Faith
In Matthew 8:26, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”. In the verses just prior to this one, we read about how the disciples were in a boat with Jesus when a terrible storm started on the lake. Jesus was sleeping in the boat and the disciples, afraid, woke him up, saying, “We’re going to drown!”. In His response, Jesus rebuked the disciples’ lack of faith and their fear. He then rebuked the winds and the waves, immediately calming the lake.
If you were in a boat, in the middle of a big storm, it seems like being afraid would be a natural response. Even so, Jesus did not give the disciples a pass and say it was ok to be afraid; He expected more of them. He expects more of His disciples because, if He is Lord of your life, then HE IS LORD! Does our fear signal that we doubt His power and might? A weak faith? Undoubtedly!
Though even as He rebuked the disciples, notice how He also had mercy on them, and He calmed the storm. Isn’t this just like Jesus? He strongly urges us on to a higher spiritual place, while understanding our human frailty and weakness. Like two sides of a coin, His mighty power and His gentleness are not opposites, but equal parts of His perfect nature. It is his kindness and gentleness that spurs me on to trust Him more, love Him more, and surrender myself more fully to Him. It is His mighty power that does the heavy lifting of changing me.
When Should You Be Afraid?
There is one scenario where Jesus said we should be afraid: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5, also in Matthew 10:28-31)
The context of this verse is the first time Jesus sent out the disciples to preach the Gospel. Jesus said do not be afraid of men, who can only take the life of another. Jesus said you should have a reverential fear of God because God can take, not only a man’s physical life, but also his soul, and destroy it eternally.
Do I have that type of deep, reverential fear of God? Or have I become a bit too comfortable in my relationship with God, to the point where I do not give Him, His name, and His commandments the healthy honor, fear, and respect they deserve? How often do I start to pray in an informal, distracted fashion, without first placing my mind and heart before the throne? If the elders in heaven, in awe and respect, bow down at the throne (Revelation 4:9-11), how much more should mere mortals? Yes, Jesus is my Friend, Savior, and Mediator. Respecting His position as one with God, the Father, is equally important and requires a little less casual familiarity, a little more reverential fear.
Call to Action
Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, curl up with your bible in a comfortable chair, and spend some time exploring the other scriptures referenced at the beginning of this post. Hear Jesus as He reassures His disciples, urging them, “Don’t be afraid!”. In many of these scriptures, Jesus said this when the disciples were frightened by Jesus’ glory and miracles. Jesus’ gentle words of reassurance are for us today as well: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)