The Shadow of Fear
We’ve been working our way through our sermon series, The Shadow of the Cross, seeing the different shadows that fall on us in this life, and today, we consider the shadow of fear.
So, my first question is, What is fear? Id didn’t know, so I looked it up.
Fear is an emotional response to danger, pain, or threats.
What are you afraid of?
Sometimes, maybe half the time, we are afraid of something that isn’t real.
When I was young, I was afraid of bees. In a field covered with clover... with bees all around. I’m not allergic. Bees aren’t mean. They mostly just leave you alone, but I was scared and called for my mom. But I wasn’t afraid of something real.
When Jesus tells you not to be afraid, sometimes he tells you not to be afraid of things you shouldn’t be afraid of anyways.
That’s the first thing that happens in our text for today. Jesus comes out on the lake and the disciples get the wrong impression. They are scared, but they are scared for the wrong reasons. They are afraid but they are afraid of something that isn’t real.
What does Jesus do? He shatters the illusion. He says, I will show you what is real and what isn’t. What you think is out there isn’t. It is I.
What are you afraid of?
Sometimes, maybe half the time, we are afraid of something that we should be afraid of.
I’m 2 for 2 on boys getting carted up to Children’s in the cities the day after they were born. Amos and aphasia, where the skin didn’t form right. And my fears were real. It could reach deeper. It could need surgery. Afraid that it would reach down into his brain.
That’s the second thing that happens in our text for today. Jesus comes to the boat and dispels their fear that he’s a ghost, and then Peter, in a move that is questionable at best – but that’s the subject of another sermon – he comes out to Jesus on the water. But. Then he saw the wind. He realized that this is the kind of wind that could capsize the boat. Then he felt the waves. And I could believe that trying to stand on a wave would be hard, especially if you started imagining that this wave could carry you off into the middle of the sea to drown. The point is that he was afraid of something he should be afraid of.
But do you see what Jesus does? He grasps Peter. As soon as Peter cries out, Jesus reaches out. As soon as the gravity of the very real and legitimately dangerous situation becomes evident, Jesus steps in. He doesn’t say (like he said above) that your fears are an illusion. He does say, Your fears are big, but I am bigger. Your fears are legitimate, but I have defeated enemies far bigger than you could understand.
Where does courage come from?
Look what Peter does. He cries out. He prays.
Courage comes from resting first in the knowledge that Jesus has defeated enemies in our life far, far bigger and badder than wind and waves, far far bigger. Courage comes from crying out to him in prayer and resting where he promises to give strength. Courage comes from focusing on what Christ has done for us.
So, where do you need courage today?
Amen and amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther