The Bible tells us not to fear something like 365 times— one time for every day of the year. Some theologians argue that’s not exactly true, but it sounds good so I’m going with it.
Actually it doesn’t really matter to me exactly how many times we’ve been told. I’m a mom, so I figure if I’ve said it once, that’s enough. Everyone should hear my words, heed my words and fall into line.
Yeah, it never works that way, but I can keep hoping.
So back to this whole “fear not” thing… I was thinking about that this morning and wondering if it is actually possible for a human not to fear. Sure, maybe if we were perfect. But even a perfect person would be cast into fear once in a while, right? I mean at some point our life is threatened and we’d have to crumble.
I started thinking of the one perfect person I know. Jesus. I’ve been told since I was a little girl that he had no sin. As in, he never sinned. As in, he never did anything wrong. As in, do it the way Jesus did it and you’ll know you’re in the clear.
So how did Jesus deal with fear? Had he ever felt it? Or been tempted to feel it? Did he ever have to push it away and instead train his eyes back on his Heavenly Father?
I bet with a quick google search I could find 365 different posts about how Jesus cast off fear, but instead I decided to just sit and think about it. I decided to let every Bible story I’d ever heard come and saturate my mind.
Here’s what I remember about Jesus. (If you notice I’ve gotten some people or places mixed up, please forgive me. I’m stretching my brain by doing this from memory.)
As a boy, Jesus was separated from his family in the big city of Jerusalem for days. His mom was freaking out until she finally found him sitting in the temple talking with the teachers. Jesus wasn’t the least bit afraid.
When he began his ministry, he was alone in the woods with wild animals for 40 days being tempted by Satan. Jesus wasn’t intimidated by the lions, tigers, bears or the devil.
After speaking one day, he got into a boat and a huge storm erupted. He was sound asleep until his disciples woke him up with their screaming about how they were all going to die. Not Jesus. He just wanted to know why they had so little faith.
Speaking of speaking, Jesus stood in front of more than 5,000 men and shared his message. No stage fright. Then he broke up two fish and a few loaves of bread without the least bit of worry that 1) it would taste good or 2) there would be enough to go around.
He stood in front of demonic possessed people again and again, and instead of cowering in fear, he simply ordered them to leave (the demons, not the people).
He sat down to dinner with his friends, knowing it would be his last supper, and flat out told them that one of them was going to betray him. He knew death was imminent, yet he kept his cool and ate his meal.
The only time I ever remember Jesus perhaps being on the edge of fear is in the garden of Gethsemane, just before he is arrested. Matthew 26:37 says that he was “anguished and distressed.” But if we look at those words from their original Greek, there is no talk of fear. Yes, those words translate into heaviness, sadness, depression, grief, sorrow… but not fear.
So. I guess we have our example. It’s as hard to live up to as everything else about Jesus, but that’s why we have the Holy Spirit. To help us.
Knowing that it is possible to live without fear makes it a little easier to swallow this week’s memory verse. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Man I love that verse, don’t you? It tells us what to do (be strong and courageous) but it also pours power into our souls by reminding us that we don’t need to fear because we’re not alone. God is with us wherever we go.
I pray that you have renewed strength and courage today to stand up to whatever is forcing you into fear. May we use this verse to remind us that we don’t have to be afraid because, just like Jesus, we have the One who created everything on our side.