April 8, 2020 by Pastor Bob Bolt
Was Jesus ever afraid?
He wasn’t when he was caught in a terrible storm pounding against his little boat on the Sea of Galilee
He wasn’t afraid that he would fail to answer his religious critics with a good answer.
He wasn’t afraid about running out of food when he had to feed the five thousand.
He wasn’t even afraid as he stood in the courts of Pilot just before his sentence of death.
Jesus never seemed to demonstrate a fear for his safety, a fear of failing, a fear of running out or a fear for his own life. Wow! That must have been nice!
But wait a minute! He was human! To be human means that at some point in your life you experience your vulnerability. We all have experienced this feeling that we are not in control of our situation and that our circumstances are just too much to bear.
Jesus being fully human, experienced this type of vulnerability and was afraid. The moment took place in the Garden of Gethsemane on that dark Thursday evening before his death. Three of the gospel writers describe that unforgettable fearful moment:
Matthew records Jesus saying to his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (vs26:37)
Mark says, “Jesus took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled”. (vs14:33)
Luke literally has Jesus sweating to death: “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”(vs22:44)
No wonder when we as a church typically gather on Maundy Thursday evening to remember this night, we call it a Service of Tenebrae which means darkness. This was Jesus darkest hour of fear!
This hour of darkness is a good reminder to us as believers.
First, we can be assured that Jesus understands fear. He felt like his circumstances around him would crush him and that the weightiness of everything was too much for him. I find that comforting when I feel a little shaken watching the news lately or thinking about my daughter who lives in the state of Washington or as my wife as she goes off to work at Spectrum hospital. The old hymn writer reminds us that “Jesus knows my every weakness”.
But the hymn writer continues, “Take it to the Lord in prayer”. This is what Jesus did during this dark evening. He prayed to his father. The author of Hebrews in chapter 5 verse 7 said, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth., he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission”. Jesus understands my fears and God our heavenly father hears our cries to him.
Tomorrow we won’t be able to gather at church to celebrate the service of Tenebrae as we normally do on Maundy Thursday. Yet like Jesus, in our own garden at home we can verbalize, pronounce and pray our fears before God. While at the same time, we can extinguish them with the fresh water of worship and choose to gaze on God and not our worries!
Lord Jesus, on the night before your death, you came to experience darkness of fear! But you ran to the only place you could…your heavenly father. I know Lord that you too are placing my great fears before our heavenly father with an understanding heart. You walked forward and faced your death help me to walk forward in confidence of my new life. In your name I pray. AMEN