Do Not Be Afraid – Christ is Risen

Read Isaiah 53 — all of it! Read Matthew 28, which says:

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men.

But the angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. In fact, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there.’ Listen, I have told you.”

So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell His disciples the news. Just then[a] Jesus met them and said, “Good morning!” They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.” (Matthew 28)

We can come in the church doors on Sunday and be attacked with fear as soon as we leave. But Jesus has overcome fear:

This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,
who has abolished death
and has brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel. (1 Timothy 1:10)

Fear is “a strong emotion caused by anticipation of danger.” What are you fearing? Political events? The economy? Ecology? Disease? Family events? Violence and crime? Someone else’s salvation?

And what does God say?

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

The most frequent command given throughout the Bible is “Fear not!” He is with us in every situation. He is always sufficient.

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

Fear causes many things: ulcers, cancer, heart conditions… addictions, as you try to relieve or escape feelings of fear… strained relationships… But Jesus will supply all of your wants needs.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:18)

26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14)

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said:

This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him.
Listen to Him!

When the disciples heard it, they fell facedown and were terrified. Then Jesus came up, touched them, and said, “Get up; don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 17)

35 While He was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader’s house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” 36 But when Jesus overheard what was said, He told the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” (Mark 5)

Fear no man and no thing. Fear only God.

The Holy Spirit always leads you into victory! Jesus loves you so much that He gave up His life — He descended into hell to take all authority away from the enemy!

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1)

Why the Wilderness?

In Israel, the wilderness is located outside of every city or town. It is not a desert like the Sahara. In Jerusalem, the wilderness is just beyond the Mount of Olives. When you traveled from Jerusalem to Galilee, you went through the wilderness. It’s hot in the day and cold at night. It’s rocky — a challenge to walk across. There’s very little water or food in the wilderness. You can get lost in it, and thieves hide there, waiting to ambush travelers.

In the Bible, it has been a time where many people, chosen by God, have spent time. Abraham… Jacob fled from his brother Esau… Joseph was sold into slavery… Moses fled to the wilderness after killing an Egyptian taskmaster… Elijah fled after killing the prophets of Baal… David hid from Saul… John the Baptist baptised people in the wilderness… Jesus went into the wilderness after His baptism…

There is always a purpose for being in the wilderness. Some are forced into the wilderness. Some choose the wilderness. Some are called by God to go into the wilderness. Remember — while the wilderness has a beginning, it also has an end.

Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years. Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. (Deuteronomy 8)

Whatever wilderness you are going through, use it as a time to talk with God and to hear His voice. It is a time to learn about yourself and your character. The wilderness causes us to rest on God, to call on Him, and to draw near to Him. It is a place to be alone, without distractions. Sometimes, it isn’t until you lose control that you are able to be led by the Lord. The Lord’s goal is to bring you to a place of encouragement, hope, faith, love, trust, comfort, courage, honor.

Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12)

The wilderness is a place where you are formed and shaped by God. It is a time to strengthen your faith. Start by being honest with yourself about what is really in your heart.

Knowing His Voice

For from Him and through Him
and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2)

Voices that are not God’s might sound like Him, but they are deceptive. They want us to cause division in the body of Christ. The enemy tries to get us to agree with that which is demonic. It might try to flatter us, to get us to speak instead of God. It makes disciples unteachable. It does not yield to Christ. It perpetuates secret sins.

When your thinking changes, it means you are repenting. To repent means to turn from that which is wrong and walk towards what is right. Punishing yourself is not repentance — it is self-righteousness — refusal to accept that Jesus has already paid the price in full.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” This is the Lord’s declaration. “Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds who shepherd My people: You have scattered My flock, banished them, and have not attended to them. I will attend to you because of your evil acts”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will gather the remnant of My flock from all the lands where I have banished them, and I will return them to their grazing land. They will become fruitful and numerous. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them. They will no longer be afraid or dismayed, nor will any be missing.” This is the Lord’s declaration. (Jeremiah 23)

So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me[a] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” (John 10)