Pastor Carolyn’s Conundrums:
Matthew 28:5-10 (NIV)
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” 8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
This takes place as the women arrive at the tomb. Notice that the Angel and Jesus greets the women saying “Do not be afraid.” They knew that the women would respond with fear.
Every time God calls us to do something, there is often fear on our part. Sometimes that fear is debilitating. The doubts in our own abilities surround us, and we just can’t seem to move past it. That got me wondering about how often we encounter being afraid as we read through the Bible. I researched the word afraid. There are 105 instances of that word in the entire Bible. For all of those times it is when people were called to trust God and do what God had asked.
I started thinking about how God responds to those times, as in our passage above. I re-searched “Do not be afraid” – Jesus said this phrase 21 times – it occurs in the entire Bible 100 times. After the resurrection, Jesus uses the phrase “Peace be with you” four times, and that phrase does not occur anywhere else in the Bible. That is a total of 104 times that people are told not to be afraid, with most of those being God saying them and the rest are from representatives of God; encouraging individuals to follow where God is leading in spite of their fear. Most accompanied with a reminder that God will be with them and help them.
What does all this mean for us (especially in this time of transition, with just hearing about me moving to Florida and a new pastor coming in July)? Often, one of our reactions we experience when we encounter the Living Lord is fear. It is natural to experience fear when we are called to do things that are outside our comfort zone. It also means that God recognizes that, and promises to help us, to be with us, so that we can move forward courageously. This does not mean we will move forward with the absence of fear, but with the confidence – knowing that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.
This Easter may we take the words of Jesus to heart and “Rejoice!” and to not be afraid fol-low where God leads!