Nothing to Fear
They were scared. All twelve of them. You know their names: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Thaddaeus, Bartholomew, Thomas, Phillip, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot. Twelve lucky men—lucky to have been called to be with Jesus. And they were scared.
It is odd, really. Puzzling. They had come to realize the most wonderful good news: that God was with them, that God was on their side, and that each of their lives was significant, noticed, valuable, and loved. Everything they had hoped in their deepest hearts might be true, and it even looked like it very much might be true. Being with Jesus had convinced them. And Jesus had called them to accompany him in living out this life and sharing it with the people who didn’t know of it.
And now they were scared.
Jesus called them by name, as he calls us. Every time we baptize an adult or an infant, we recover that glory—that each of us is absolutely unique, chosen for salvation, and infinitely valuable. There is no company or organization that can afford to pay us what we are worth. We are incredibly precious.
But as Jesus continued to talk with them, they realized the dimensions of life that they were being drawn into, and began to get nervous. They, in fact, were being called into a fullness and extravagance that they were not used to and were not prepared for. Jesus realized what they were feeling and interrupted their growing apprehension in Matthew 10:26, 28, and 31: Have no fear. Do not fear. Fear not. Three times Jesus told his twelve disciples not to be afraid.
When we listen, really listen, to the words of Jesus, we know they are for us and that this life has deep, eternal significance. And we are delighted. But we also realize that it is going to demand that we grow up, that we be fully human before God, and that for reasons that we will never quite comprehend, the majority of people around us won’t be enthusiastic. We know, deep in our bones, that we are called to be disciples and there is no second-rate person among us. The opposition unnerves us. But Jesus interrupts and says, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t let what you suppose to be dangerous frighten you. Don’t let your minority status bother you. God does not run the world by majority vote. Don’t be afraid.”
There is so much to see, so much to experience, so many people to love, such a marvelous Lord to worship. And nothing to fear. Amen.