WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Devotional for April 15, 2018 based upon Luke 24: 36-48
Are you a worrier? Do you know someone who is a worrier? I know that for me most of the things that I worry about never happen. And the bad things that happen often are things that I had never thought of to worry about. But still, I keep on worrying. Whenever my wife says, “Don’t panic, but. . . .” I always start to panic.
One father told of when his children were small, he put together a swing set for them in the backyard. But then he started to worry about all the ways in which he might not have put it together correctly so that it might come apart and injure his children.
One person once said, “We used to take life with a grain of salt; now we take it with five milligrams of valium.” A lot of people today are worried and afraid. Many people have good reason to be afraid. In our Gospel reading for April 15 Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you frightened? What are you afraid of?” It is a good question for us as well.
First, MANY PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT AND ARE AFRAID OF THE FUTURE.
Some worry about Social Security. Will it be there when I need it? What will I do if it is not there? Others worry, What if Chicken Little is right? What if the environmentalists are right? What if good old Mother Earth really does become an uninhabitable greenhouse?
The disciples also were afraid for the future. After all, they were facing some pretty tough enemies. Both in the Temple as well as in the State. Their leader had been crucified. It would have been very easy for them to have asked, Where was God when we needed Him the most?
For the disciples it looked pretty bleak. It would have been very easy for them to wonder, What will the future hold? Will we even have a future? They needed to remember what we also need to remember. That there are 365 Fear Not’s in the Bible. One Fear Not for every day of the year. And I am sure that in Leap Year, one of those Fear Not’s will work for two days.
“Why are you frightened?” Jesus asked His disciples. “Why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Then He showed them His hands and His feet. Jesus wanted His disciples to know that He was alive. It was all real. Death had been conquered. The Gospel is true.
But then notice what happened next. Luke tells us that in their sheer joy they still did not believe. It was just too good to be true. They wanted to believe, but they were having such a hard time. They were afraid for the future. Are you afraid for your future? Believe that the same Jesus who has conquered death can also defeat anything that might try to defeat you.
Second, MANY PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT AND ARE AFRAID BECAUSE OF THE PAST.
Have you ever gotten about halfway through a project and then wished that you could start over? A lot of people feel that way about life. They get about halfway through life and then wish they could start over. We all have regrets – over things that we have done and over things that we have not done. We all have plenty of things to feel bad about. We all carry a load of guilt.
Once again, our Gospel reading for April 15 speaks to our needs. Jesus said to His disciples, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins (must) be proclaimed in (my) name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Repentance and forgiveness of sins. There is a way to deal with guilt. And it is a way that will work as no other way will work. It is God’s way. Repentance and forgiveness of sins – made possible by the death of Jesus on the cross. His blood that was shed on the cross for you can completely cover over your past.
And then, third, MANY PEOPLE ARE WORRIED AND AFRAID BECAUSE THEY FEEL POWERLESS TO DEAL WITH THE PRESENT. They feel overwhelmed with the here and now.
Someone was asking General Norman Schwarzkopf of Desert Storm how he was adjusting to life in retirement. He answered, “Only a year ago I could issue an order and 541, 000 people would obey it. Now I cannot even get a plumber to come to my house.” General Schwarzkopf was finding out what it is like to feel powerless.
Many people today feel powerless. Not only in getting a plumber, but in dealing with life. They feel overwhelmed. Defeated. Unable to get on top of and gain control over their lives.
Once again Jesus gives us Good News. In the verse immediately following our Gospel reading for April 15 Jesus said, “I will send upon you what My Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Power from on high. That is exactly what we need. Power from on high. And the Good News of Pentecost, which is only five weeks away, is that we all can receive power from on high. Human power is so limited when we compare it with some of the circumstances in which we can find ourselves. But even the worst of circumstances has no real power when compared with God’s power. And because of the cross and the empty tomb God’s power is available to you.
So what are you afraid of? Why are you frightened? Is it because of the future? God has your future under His control. Is it because of your past? Your sins can be thrown into the deepest sea, and because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead for you, they need never be retrieved again. Is it because of the present? There is power available to all who call upon His name. So call upon His name.
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE