Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dealing with Our Fears

Excerpts from Matthew 14:1-34 (NIV)
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet. 

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 

Lenten Devotional

The fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel includes three stories.  To say the least it is an action packed chapter.  Any one of these stories could capture our attention, but maybe we should focus on the common message of all three.

Herod is a vicious ruler who seems afraid of everyone.  When he hears about Jesus he is afraid John the Baptist has risen from the dead.  Matthew tells us the cruel story of how Herod had killed John in response to a request from his wife, Herodius, and her daughter.  The gruesome account reports that John’s head was delivered to them on a platter during the party.  Even after he has executed John, Herod still fears him.

The second portion of the story records the feeding of the five thousand with only five loaves and two fish.  When Jesus is confronted by the desperate crowd his response was compassion.  He healed their sick and taught them about the Kingdom of God.  For many in the crowd the most pressing question everyday was where could they find their next meal.   Jesus was not merely providing a convenient meal.  He was addressing a critical need and one of crowd’s greatest fears.

The final story in the chapter is Jesus walking on the water to meet the disciples in the boat.  Jesus sent the disciples ahead as he dismissed the crowd.  Then he went to be alone and pray.  Later that night he went out to them—walking on the water.  The disciples are terrified.  Peter attempts to join him on the water and is recued by Jesus.

Life is filled with frightening experiences.  The question is how will we deal with them?  Will we react and lash out in fear as Herod did, or will we seek the direction and provision of God.  The Jesus Way was never meant to be without struggles, but our Savior helps us find our way in a frightening world.

This devotional was written for our Lenten Devotion Guide for First Baptist Church in Jefferson City where I am a member and serve part-time as the Church Administrator.

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