The great theologian Emil Brunner put it this way: “As children, lost in a woods, are fearful of the sinister darkness – and then, suddenly, hearing a sound from the somber blackness, a familiar voice, a loving, seeking, helping voice, their father’s voice – so is our reply to the voice from the Word of God in Jesus Christ which suddenly cries out to us in the mysterious, dark universe. It is the Father calling us out of the world’s darkness. He calls us, seeks us, wants to bring us to Himself, ‘Where are you, my child?’ Our prayer means, ‘Here I am, Father. I was afraid until you called. Since you have spoken, I am afraid no longer. Take me, lead me by the hand through the dark, terrifying world.’”
On Easter morning, walking in the darkness of loss, in the blackness of hopelessness, the women made their way to the tomb. From the darkness of the tombs entrance, they are suddenly accosted by a voice, “Do not be afraid.” They jump back. “I tell you,” the angel, “He is not here. He is risen – search the tomb for yourself and then go and tell the others – he is risen.”
I doubt the words “Do not be afraid,” meant much to the women at the time; they were terrified! That is until, on the way back, they hear, this time, a familiar voice – that loving, seeking, helping voice – Jesus’ voice “Do not be afraid, I am here, I am well.”
The women ran to Jesus, fell down before him and cried, “We were so afraid!” Then getting off their knees they look into Jesus’ face and say, “But now we are no longer afraid. Take us, lead us Lord, through the dark, terrifying world ... that you have overcome.”
Thirty-three years prior to the resurrection, an angel encounters a young virgin named Mary. She is taken back by the way she is greeted. The angels says to her,“Mary, DO NOT BE AFRAID.”
A bit later, Joseph, upon finding out that his fiancee is pregnant. He plans to end the engagement, when an angel of the Lord comes to him in a dream and says, “Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”
Following the birth of Jesus, angels appear before shepherds outside of Bethlehem. Overcome by the glory of the heavenly sight they witness, the angel tells them,“Do not be afraid...I bring you good news of great joy for you and all the people.”
Numerous times throughout His ministry, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” But, he not only said it, he lived it. He stood up to the powers of nature, demons, Satan, illness, hate, injustice and yes, even death and conquered them all; every time, looking us in the eyes and saying, “Do not be afraid.”
How much would it be worth to you, beginning today, to never be afraid of anything in this sometimes terrifying world? Not illness, not separation, not finances, not lost family, not even death. None of it, ever again?
Jesus was able to do this because he understood that despite all the burdens and difficulties He faced, He knew he was always in his Father’s hands. Whether riding into Jerusalem in glory, or being nailed to a cross, he knew he was still in the hands of God. One of his final statements while on the cross was, “Father, into your HANDS, I commend my Spirit.”
He knew God was still there. Still for him. Still holding him. Still powerful. Still all-powerful. Still all-victorious.
Today, try living this way – and when fear comes to you, hear the Lord say to you, “Do not be afraid.” And then rest in His holy presence.
~ God bless, Dan