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Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx
Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx

Episode 90 · 7 months ago

The Proper Perspective on Fearing Jesus

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Proper Perspective on Fearing Jesus

John 6:16-21

Dax Bryant - Preaching

Lord of all creation, we come before you this morning, each of us with our faith in various states, some of us like a strong and immovable ocean liner cutting through the currents, others like a beaten and battered raft of sticks, barely floating at all, alone on a restless sea, and yet all of us needing you to be the captain of our vessels, as we sometimes seeing. Lord, you hold our faith. When fears arise, you stand above the stormy trial. You send the waves that bring us nigh on to the shore, the rock of Christ and we recognize, Lord, that in order to be brought safely to your golden shore, we must learn, as as spurgeon said, to kiss the wave that throws us against the rock of ages. So help us, Lord, to hear from you now. We come, not to hear a man that we come to hear from you in your words, and bring us then to the end of ourselves, so that we might secure safe passage by your grace, through your word to us in this moment, prepare our hearts, Lord, we pray cast aside every fear and every distraction and help us to catch the rising tide that brings us to you. We pray these things in the marvelous name of Jesus. Amen. Amen. So we will be in John Chapter six, those verses that Jd red for us, versus sixteen through twenty one, this morning. So if you close your bibles open and backed up there. One of our former presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, was known for being an avid outdoorsman and he had a peculiar habit that he formed when he would have guests over for dinner at the White House. After the meal was concluded, he would take his guests out on the patio and they would simply just watch the sun set and as darkness crept in and the night stars came out, the guests would often grow quite uncomfortable as the president just sat there in silence, staring at the night sky and the stars. Eventually he would say, gentleman, I believe we are small enough now. Let's go inside. And something very similar happens when we see Jesus the way that John Presents Him in this Gospel and even in the passage that will be looking at today. When we see him rightly, we will feel how small we truly are, and we need to feel that smallness in order to appreciate his bigness and all that that means for us. So this is something that these verses here will teach us, as John continues to stay laser focused in this gospel of presenting evidence after evidence to you that Jesus is the son of God, that he is the Messiah, so that you might believe these things and come to have life in his name. Remember, that's John's whole purpose in writing this now. Last time, if you were here or if you remember, we looked at the first fifteen verses of John Six, the very familiar account of Jesus feeding the five thousand on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where he took five loaves and two fish and multiplied that into enough food to feed this huge crowd of people and even gather up leftovers in twelve baskets. And then, if you look at your bibles, you'll notice starting in verse twenty two through the end of the chapter, Jesus speaks to the crowds who have finally caught up to him and he explains the significance of this miracle that he had just performed and in that conversation...

...he identifies himself as the bread of life who has come down from heaven and he gives eternal life to all who will feast on him. Now, Lord Willing, we will look at that passage. The week after Easter is when we'll get there. But in between that miracle of feeding the five thousand and the resulting conversation and explanation and ultimately rejection, we have this passage here that we're in this morning, this report of Jesus and his disciples making their way back across the Sea of Galilee to a town called Copernum. So we want to ask the question what is what are these verses doing here in the middle of all this? And quite simply, at one level right, it's obvious that it just explains the physical movements of the people who are involved in this narrative. But there are a couple of other things going on here as well. First of all, this passage continues to build off the exodus theme that was introduced last time in chapter six, verses fourteen and fifteen. Remember this. So Jesus provides the bread from heaven for the people to eat, and that that triggers some moseslike connections in their minds. They recognize that, Oh, this is the prophet of whom Moses spoke who was to come. He's here now, and then, of course, here, just like Moses, Jesus will cross the sea, but in an even greater way. And then, secondly, this passage is also accomplishing something towards the literary structure of this entire chapter. So I want you to see this just so you can kind of keep track at a bigger level of what's going on here. So last week, in verses one through fifteen, the focus was on the crowd and then in this passage, versus sixteen through twenty one, it zooms in, it narrows in on the disciples and their reaction. Now look at your bibles there and notice what follows in the remainder of chapter six, starting there in verse twenty two and going through verse Fifty Eight, again the focus goes back out to the crowds and then in verse fifty nine through seventy one, it centers in on the disciples once more. So chapter six is this a be a be kind of pattern, where a focuses on the crowds and their misunderstandings and the bees zeroes in on the disciples and shows that they also have some misunderstandings and need Jesus as well. Now, as you also know, as we continue to try to place this in its context, this particular account of Jesus walking on the water is also recorded for us in Matthews Gospel and Marx Gospel, Matthew Fourteen, Mark, chapter six, in both cases in quite a bit more detail than what we have here in John's Gospel, for instance. In both of those other examples we have more detail, given that this was actually Jesus's idea. Actually it was. It was Jesus has command for his disciples to leave him at the shoreline and to head out in the boat across the lake. Matthew especially then famously turns his attention to the reaction of the disciples who are out on the lake, famously highlighting Peter's experience of being called by Jesus to get out of the boat and walk on the water himself. Now, in comparison to those other two accounts, what we have here with John in his version, it's pretty stripped down. It's even terser then mark telling of this account, which is which is really saying something if you know Marks Gospel. So why is this the case? Why does John Approach it this way? Why does he frame it like this? Well, it's because John isn't as concerned with capturing the experience and the reaction of the disciples in this event as much as he wants to draw all of your attention to...

Jesus here. In fact, the climax of this event, according to John's telling, really takes place in verse twenty, where Jesus identifies himself to his disciples in the boat. That is where your eyes are meant to linger in this passage, to see Christ there and to wrestle with who he really is and what that means for you. And it's tempting, because this is such a brief passage, to jump over to matthew and mark and Glean the extra tidbits of information that we get there, to fill in the gaps, and I think there's certainly value in doing that as you study this passage, but for this morning, being that we're in John's Gospel. John Shapes this narrative the way that he does for a reason and to look too far outside of that might lead us to miss the point that John Wants to make, and so we want to as much as possible, stay right here in these five verses. And so if we take this passage on its own terms, we can make this overarching statement that will kind of guide us this morning. The proper perspective on fearing Jesus Occurs Only when we are small and Jesus is big. It's that simple. Only when we are small and Jesus is big do we have a proper perspective on fearing him. You may be familiar with the story and have not considered that actually fear is at the heart of this passage and as we consider that, I think there are at least two vital truths about Jesus that we can see here. So first, this is where we're going. In Verses Sixteen through nineteen, Jesus is presented as the cause of fear and then, secondly, in verses twenty and twenty one, Jesus is revealed as the close of fear. So we have Jesus the cause of fear and Jesus the close of fear, and I trust that will become clearer as we work our way through this. So let's let's first consider Jesus as the cause of fear here. So notice verses sixteen and Seventeen. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat and started across the sea to Copernum. It was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them. Once again, this is immediately after the feeding of the five thousand. Sometime late in the afternoon, at Jesus's command, his disciples get into this boat, they leave him behind and they head across the Sea of Galilee Westward, now back to Copernum. And if you remember, Copernum had become Jesus has kind of adopted ministry headquarters there while he was in this region of Galilee. And so the disciples are in the boat and after a little while darkness falls. Now that is not only literally and an objectively true that it got dark, but thematically. In John's Gospel, darkness is all as often linked to the absence of Jesus, and that seems to be what John Does right here. It was now dark and, related to that, Jesus had not yet come to them. So not only is at night time, not only is Jesus nowhere to be found, but also verse eighteen tells us the sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. Now you probably heard in sermons or in your own study. You know something about the storms that can can quickly overtake the Sea of Galilee. The lake itself sits down...

...roughly at six hundred feet below sea level, but it's surrounded by these elevated mass and when the cool air from the higher elevation works its way down through the ravines and and displaces the warmer, humid air that sits over the lake, the conditions can turn treacherous pretty quickly, especially for a small vessel. And that seems like the conditions that engulf the disciples in their boat on that night. And on top of all that, they are without doubt exhausted. The first part of Verse Nineteen tells us that they had rowed three or four miles in these very windy and dark conditions. Remember, we're at a point in history there's no electricity, there's no light pollution, it is dark out there and they are in the middle of this storm. They are tired. Matthew and mark tell us that it was some time between three and six am in the morning, the darkest part of the night and, as the end of verse Seventeen says, Jesus had not yet come to them and we're told at the end of verse nineteen that they were frightened. Notice, not because it was dark, not because they were caught out in the lake in this middle of this storm. These are experienced fishermen, remember, they knew these waters well and, though I'm sure they would have very much enjoyed having Jesus with them in the boat, it wasn't even the fact that he wasn't with them that caused them to be afraid. What was it that made them tremble? Not all these other things. If you look at what the text says, it was seeing Jesus that caused them to fear. Back back in December two thousand and two, twenty years ago almost, there was an art student in New York City who decided to display a provocative piece of his art. Now, remember December two thousand and two. This is just shortly after the first anniversary of eleven. So New Yorkers are very much still on edge right. And so this this art student. He he places about three dozen Fedex boxes in the subway station at Union Square during the morning rush hour and on each box, spray painted in black is just one word fear. At first in the in the hustle and bustle of the commute, no one noticed. Of eventually people did. The police recalled, the bomb squad was dispatched, the trains in the city were stopped in their tracks, the subway system was evacuated. People poured out onto the streets, confused, angry afraid. All of it was in vain, of course, because the boxes turned out to be empty. Now you'll be glad to know that that student was charged with reckless endangerment for that little stunt. But there's a lesson here for us. Just like with those boxes, in the end, so many of our fears turn out to be empty, and like those panicked subway commuters, we often are overwhelmed. We runaway, scared of things that were afraid of that actually ultimately pose no real threat. And yet at the same time, many people never think to tremble in the presence of Jesus. Again. Look, look here at the text. Notice the conditions that it's dark, the sea is rough, the storm is raging. The disciples are caught out in the middle...

...of the lake. Maybe they even wonder has Jesus forgotten us? And then in the distance, through the darkness middle of Verse Nineteen, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. Now you might expect it to say they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat and they were overjoyed, they were comforted, but they were frightened. Now, unlike Matthew and mark, John doesn't tell us here that one of the reasons the disciples were afraid is because they thought they were seeing a ghost. Regardless from the perspective of the disciples, whatever or whomever they were seen coming towards them clearly had control and mastery over the elements. And and that word that's translated walking there. It highlights the ease with which Jesus approaches them. It says if he's just out for a leisurely stroll over the waves, unperturbed, totally relaxed. That's the sense of that word. And this was something that the disciples simply had no category for. All right, the lake, they know about that. Fishing boats, that's right in their wheelhouse. Treacherous storms, they'd been there, they done that. But this, this is not only disturbing, this is terrifying. And in this moment Jesus reveals himself as the unquestioned, untamable sovereign Lord over the seas. This, this picture of Jesus here is the picture that we get in Psalm seventy seven. In fact, it's it's worth turning there just to see this. Keep your finger in John Six and turned back to Psalm seventy seven just to see this. There, Psalm seventy seven. It reflects on the exodus account, which again that's being hinted at here in John Six as well, but it seems especially fitting for this occasion when Jesus walks through this storm on the surface of the waters. So John Our Psalm seventy seven. Let's pick it up their in verse sixteen, Psalm S Sixteen. When the waters saw you, Oh God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid indeed. The deep trembled, the clouds poured out water, the skies gave forth thunder. Your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind. Your lightnings lighted up the world. The earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters, yet your footprints were unseen. That is a portrait of Jesus designed to make us tremble. The the God man who rules over the elements, who rides upon the storm, who walks atop the waves. This is the Lord of Creation. This Jesus isn't here to provide you your every comfort, to make sure that all of your dreams come true and that you have a very nice day. This Jesus Commands your utter submission and awe and causes you to tremble. And so you need to ask yourself, do you have room in your thinking for a Jesus like this? For the disciples that night in the boat, it wasn't the storm they were afraid of, it was the sight of Jesus walking on the water that made them tremble. And I think something is wrong when we find ourselves quaking at empty fear boxes around every corner and...

...yet never pausing to consider that it is Jesus who ought to make us tremble. That's a little backwards, isn't it? The darkness makes us fear, the storms make us fear. Tomorrow makes us fear, but the Lord is who forms light and creates darkness. The Lord is the one who commands and calms the storm. The Lord is the one who is the same yesterday, today and forever. It's not your circumstances you should fear, but the one who governs your circumstances. It is he who is the cause to fear. Jesus themselves says in Matthew Ten, verse Twenty Eight, do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear Him who can both destroy body and soul in Hell. The point is, it is it is him we ought to tremble before. Jesus is the one who gives us cause to fear, because he is the sovereign Lord of all. But here's the thing in this. This leads us to our second point. Here, in verses twenty and twenty one, Jesus is not only the cause of fear but also, seemingly paradoxically, he is the close of fear, the end of fear. And before we look at these last two verses, I want you to think about something with me here. Why were the disciples caught out in the middle of that storm? Why were they out there in the first place? Because they were obeying Jesus's command. Right. Did did you catch that? There are there are two ways to get caught out in spiritual storms. Right. One way is to flee from God's will, like Jonah and, and maybe that is the case for some of you here this morning. The other way, just like with the case of these disciples, is to actually obey God's will and find yourself in the middle of a storm. Maybe you've experienced that that sometimes, following Christ faithfully will take you into a fierce storm in your life, and it is by his intentional design that that happens. And the reward of that experience is the the close of fear that Jesus brings. If coming to the disciples through the storm gave them cause to fear, the words now that he speaks to them, as he climbs into the boat, reveals Jesus as the close of fear. Again, only when we are small and Jesus is big do we have the proper perspective on fearing him. So the disciples, they tremble in fear as he approaches them through the darkness, as he as he confidently and powerfully strides across the wind driven waves. And then Jesus speaks verse twenty. It is I do not be afraid. He had not forsaken them, he had not forgotten them, he had seen them, he knew what they were going through. And yet we have to say this as well, he chose to let them be battered around in that storm for a while. Why I can't say for sure, but it seems as though God often takes us to the very end of our strength and our resources so that we will learn to fully rely on him, just like we saw the same thing in the feeding of the five thousand.

But but here, even even more than that, Jesus also comes at the darkest part of the night, when his disciples were at the height of their exhaustion and anxiety and concern. Only then does Jesus come to them. But how much more precious is the sight of Jesus at moments like that? I remember when Sarah was pregnant with Cormick and I had recently lost my job and we were preparing to move to Ireland for full time ministry. But even in fact, in order to travel, because we were late in the pregnancy, we had to have a doctor's appointment and an ultrasound. We didn't have insurance, we couldn't afford a doctor's appointment and an ultra sound. We didn't have anybody who could help us out with that at the time and so, not knowing what else to do, we prayed about that and without saying anything, the doctor saw Sarah and gave the ultrasound and everything and never charged us for that. Now that is a much lesser example, right. That's not nearly the same dire situation as being trapped on a boat in the middle of a storm, in the middle of a lake, but that is often how we experience these kinds of things in our lives. That that Jesus comes to us when it looks like hope is lost, when we are reeling and fearful and uncertain about what lies next, when our convictions are in doubt, when our confidence is teetering, when our courage is crushed, that's when he comes and as he comes near, he speaks words of reassurance and comfort and tenderness and understanding. He says it is I do not be afraid, and immediately the fear is gone and in it play. In its place comes gladness. That's what John Tells us in Verse Twenty One. Then they were glad to take him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. Now, depending on how you interpret that last phrase there immediately the boat was at the land. That could possibly suggest a continuation of this miracle. Some of the early church fathers took it that way. John doesn't seem to make a very big point of that. So whether the remainder of this trip was miraculously speedy or not, the point is the waters calm, the storm quiets and the boat swiftly arrives at a safe haven. But I want us to go back the verse twenty for a few minutes because, as I said, John's rendition of this event builds to that moment. There's there's more happening in verse twenty than Jesus simply identifying himself to his disciples. This is the climax of the narrative and there's a depth here that that not even his disciples understood until much later, I'm sure. And the context again what will help us see what John is pointing us to. After Jesus and the disciples reach Copernum, the next morning Jesus encounters the crowds and he he teaches them about the real significance of the feeding of the five thousand that they'd had the day before. In fact, just let's your eye go down the page in John Six to first thirty one for a moment just to see this where the crowds say in verse thirty one, our father's ate the Manna in the wilderness. As it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat. Jesus said to them, truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my father,...

...who gives you the bread from heaven, for the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. And later he adds I am the bread of life. Now again, these are clear references to the exodus, God delivering his people from slavery in Egypt and and leading them out by Moses through the Wilderness, providing food and and shelter for them, leading them right up to the land of promise at which again, among other things, means it's valid to see a faint echo of the crossing of the Red Sea here when Jesus walks across the Sea of Galilee, Psalm seventy seven. But here's the point. When you read Jesus's Climactic statement there in Verse Twenty, in light of that Exodus Motif, John's agenda begins to sharpen into view as he approaches the boat. John says, or Jesus says to the disciples, it is I. In the Greek this is the simple declaration, Ego am I am. Now, on the one hand that's simply the way that one would identify himself, but if you've read John's Gospel, then you have certainly noticed the variety of times that these exact words appear on Jesus's lips, dripping with meaning. And here it's safe to say that, at a minimum, these words are at least and anticipation of a much clearer and greater self revelation that Jesus will make that has a far weightier significance, because Ego Ami, I am. That is the Greek translation of the divine name of God, as you know, the name that God revealed to Moses in Exodus Chapter Three, when Moses asks, when the people say, what is the name of the God who is sending me, what should I say to them? And God says say this to the people of Israel, I am has sent me. And if you remember, Moses was overcome with fear in that moment. He he hit his face because he was afraid to see God. Later on, when the Israelites meet with God at the base of Mount Sinai, the Lord Displays His glory, he proclaims his name and the mountain shakes and the people are terrified in the presence of the great I am. Or how about when the PROPHETIAIS had his vision of the Lord in the temple and he cries out in despair. Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people with Unclean Lips, for my eyes have seen the king, the I am, the Lord of hosts. All throughout the history of God's dealings with his people, the presence of the great I am strikes fear into the heart of sinful men. And how could it do anything else? When unmediated glory, unmediated holiness, unmediated majesty collides with Human Finite Tude and sinfulness, it very rightly puts us on our face in the dust from which we were made. And so in John Six, here when Jesus approaches the boat at night through the storm, over the waves and declares himself to be I am, as the Prophet Nahim puts it, I am whose way is in the whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. As Jesus draws near to them, with this name on his lips, we should brace for impact. We ought to expect an explosive encounter, but look what happens. His...

...presence doesn't cause them to hide their face, like Moses, or to be filled with terror, like the Israelites at Mount Sinai, or to cover their mouths like the Prophet Isaiah. This is different. This time. Jesus says to the disciples I am do not be afraid, do not be afraid. As a matter of fact, the verb that's used there be afraid. It's in the present tense, which means it's ongoing, it's continuous, and it's in the imperative mood, which means it's a command. So, in other words, we could translate like this. You must keep continuing not to be afraid. And isn't this why Jesus came, so that sinners like you and me might meet God in Him, that the holy terror of encountering God's unmediated glory might be replaced with the comfort and gladness of encountering his saving grace and mercy through his son, and that makes it possible, then, from the moment that you're sayd, that you can keep on not being afraid. But that only happens when you are small and Jesus is big. That's how you get this proper perspective of fearing him. The smaller you are, the smaller your misplaced fears become, because the greater your fear of goddess. In Jesus, God has not come to us in a stunning display of power. He didn't shake the mountains, he didn't blot out the sun. In the person of Jesus Christ, God has come to us. In fact, God has become one of us so that we might know him, so that we can draw near to the previously unapproachable great I am because he's truly God and he controls all that comes to past. Jesus can legitimately say to you, do not be afraid, and because he is truly human and understands why you might be afraid in the first place, Jesus can legitimately say to you, do not be afraid. He is the one who made the storm, he's the one who sends you out into the storm. He's the one who can stop the storm, and yet he also knows why you're afraid of the storm. That's that's beautiful. There is no savior like that, and this is why we Christians don't need to lean back on useless cliches. You know, like God won't ever give you more than you can handle. Have you read Your Bible? The whole book is full of God giving people more than they can handle on purpose, right for the express purpose of them leaning on him. That would seem cruel right for God to do that, unless God has climbed into the boat with us and said, as I send you deliberately into the midst of what you cannot handle, I will be there with you, so you learn to trust me through that storm. In Jesus, God has come to us so that we might know him. Remember, way back when we are in Chapter One of John's Gospel, John One, verse eighteen, it says no one has ever seen God, the only God who is at the father's side. A clear reference to Jesus. He has made him known,...

...the UNKNOWABLE, unapproachable I am has come in the person of Jesus Christ, so that we might know him. He has come as a man who understands us, who sympathizes with us, and yet he is the only one who can cast out every fear, how because only he has experienced the thumb of what is greater than all of our fears. Jesus knew the fear of obeying God and being sent alone into the storm, the consequence of his obedience to the father's will. Is What brought him to look the fear of death and hell straight in the face, and in doing so he satisfied the wrath of God against your sin, which was vindicated by Jesus's resurrection from the dead and his ascension to heaven, where he rules and reigns over every storm in your life now until you die. This is the great paradox of the Christian faith, that the very presence of Jesus, the sovereign Lord of all, ought to make you tremble. He is the high and Exalted One, Infinite In Holiness and majesty and purity and might, and since we are weak, finite, sinful creatures, we ought to tremble in his presence. That's what verses sixteen through nineteen taught us. That the presence of Jesus is cause to fear. But once we've trusted this Jesus and what he's done, and we know that his love and grace and his presence is with us, then we need not fear anything else. The presence of Jesus ought to make you tremble, but if he is with you, then nothing else can fear. Is brought to a close. This Jesus, who can walk across the waves, should make you quake in your boots. But only a Jesus like this is worth trusting. Only when we are small in Jesus is big, do we have a proper perspective on fearing him. If you find yourself living under the tyranny of fear, it is quite likely, at least in part, because your view of yourself is too big and your view of Jesus is too small. To give you an extreme example of that, there are those people who have concluded that there is no god. It's harder to make him smaller than that, that he doesn't exist, but to stand in the midst of God, God's creation, and declare that there is no god as a little like standing on the railroad tracks while you deliver a dissertation about why locomotives don't exist, just just because you don't believe something doesn't mean that it's not real. Or maybe you haven't gone that far. Maybe you believe that God exists, but you don't like some of the things that the Bible says about God. You don't like the idea, perhaps, that there is only one way to God. You don't like the idea that not everyone will be saved. And so you invent a version of God according to what you would prefer God to be like. And when you make God's small and yourself big, the version of God that you end up creating ends up looking a lot more like you then who God reveals himself to be in scripture. Now, the reason that people...

...arrive at those kinds of conclusions, those those are complex, they are varied, they deserve more time and interaction than what we can give right now. We recognize that, we appreciate that, but the simple truth is that ideas like that reveal a small view of God and a big view of self. How else, how else can we describe sitting in judgment over what God should do, or even if God exists at all? But but you don't have to be an atheist or a deist or a universalist either. Believer do you need to repent of having too big a view of self and too small a view of God? Have you lost sight of his sovereignty so that you rarely ever tremble before him? Have you forgotten his love and kindness and grace, so that now you find it difficult to trust him? Perhaps your view of Jesus is so small that you rarely think of him at all, and you can't imagine that he thinks of you very often either. The disciples may have felt that they strayed out of Jesus's sight that night when they left him at the shoreline. They felt his absence. Maybe they wondered if they would ever see him again. But as he came to them in the middle of the storm, they realized that he had never stopped seeing them. So I want you to please hear this. You can never stray beyond the site or slip out of the grasp of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. If you belong to him, he will always bring you safely to shore. The disciples here they understood two things that happened that night that you also need to understand. Number One, Jesus is Lord. He is sovereign over the storm. And number two, this same sovereign, mighty, all powerful Lord loved them. He loved them, and that is what dispelled their fear and replaced it with gladness. And we have an even greater demonstration of that truth. Remember that night in the garden of Gath, Simone the soldiers, led by Judas a scariot, came looking for Jesus, and he steps out into the darkness, in the fear of that moment, and he says, whom do you seek? And they answered him, Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus said to them, I am and every one of those men, those soldiers, fell back and dropped to the ground. This, this Jesus, who is the sovereign Lord, is to be feared, and yet, because of his love for us, he willingly gave himself over to those same men to be bound and tried and tortured and crucified. He is the sovereign Lord, but he is the sovereign Lord who loves US and gave himself up for us. He rules over all things, and yet he bleeds to make us his. What are you afraid of this morning? Maybe it's health issues or financial struggles, political upheaval, a miserable marriage, an aging parent, a wayward child. Maybe you fear losing something that you know you hold on to too tightly. Maybe you fear being alone or even the prospect of your own death. May I...

...ask You, are you fearful, ever, of your sin? If you have a true sense of your sin and a true sense of the Majesty And Holiness of God, and and even a real understanding of the reason that Jesus died and the price that he had to pay for your sin to be forgiven, well then you have good cause to fear God, given what sin deserves. What makes the difference is the nature of your present relationship with Jesus. Do you see yourself as small and God as big? Have you placed all of your trust in Jesus, Christ and his finished work on the cross that satisfied God's wrath against you forever? Then you no longer need fear the judgment that you deserve, because it has been poured out on Christ in your place, and that is good news. But if you are still trusting yourself, still going along with what you think is best, what seems right in your eyes, if you've carved out a life for yourself or Jesus is neglected, ignored or even mocked, then it is a certainty that you have not yet been made small enough, and as long as you remain in that sinful state, you have serious cause to fear him. Just as Teddy Roosevelt used to stare silently at the night skies, you need to reverently fix your gaze upon Jesus Christ until you have been made small enough, because only when you were small and Jesus is big, is your fear rightly placed. He's bigger than your circumstances. He's the Lord over your circumstances, and that alone should cause you to fear him. But the thing about Jesus that is unique is that he has also shared in your circumstances, and trusting him then makes him your brother, your friend and your savior, and it brings a close to those fears. Maybe you've not thought about those things for a while, but let me assure you there is nothing more worthy of your consideration than these things. The Lord Jesus this morning is calling you to look again to the one who rides over the storm and comes to you, gets into the boat with you and says I am do not be afraid. I see you, I know you, I always have trust me, follow me. It's not too late. I urge you to give your attention to this Jesus today. Let's let this puritan prayer entitled Peril from the Valley of Vision, serve as our closing prayer. Will you bow your heads with me and hear these words? Sovereign Commander of the universe, I am sadly harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief, in a felt spiritual darkness. My heart is full of evil, surmisings and disquietude, and I cannot act in faith at all. My heavenly pilot has disappeared and I have lost my hold on the rock of ages. I think in deep mire, beneath storms and waves, in horror and distress unutterable.

Help me, Oh Lord, to throw myself absolutely and wholly on Thee, for better for worse, without comfort and all but hopeless. Give me peace of soul, confidence, enlargement of mind, mourning joy that comes after night heaviness, water my soul richly with divine blessings. Grant that I may welcome THY humbling in private so that I might enjoy thee in public. Give me a mountaintop as high as the valley is low. Thy Grace can melt the worst sinner, and I am as vile as he. Yet Thou hast made me a monument of mercy, a trophy of redeeming power. In my distress, let me not forget this. All Wise God, thy never failing Providence, orders every event, sweetens every fear, reveals evil's presence lurking in seeming good, and brings real good out of seeming evil. Makes unsatisfactory what I set my heart upon, to show me what a short sided creature I am and to teach me to live by faith. Upon THY blessed self. Out of my sorrow and night, give me the name nastily satisfied with favor, help me to love thee as thy child and to walk worthy of my heavenly pedigree. Amen.

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