The dark shadow glided up the stairs towards my daughter’s bedroom. Relentlessly, it crossed the landing and entered her bedroom. My screams and frantic leap from bed startled my husband, Ken, awake. “Sharon, wait,” he hollered while I flew down the hallway towards the shadow. No slouch himself, he rolled out of bed and down the hall so quickly, he managed to stop me before I woke up our sleeping child, again.
A reoccurring dream about a dark form stealing my daughter away in the night, tormented me for years. Every time my conscious mind accepted it as reality and responded accordingly, I scared the soup out of Ken. A couple of times I reached my daughter, Jennifer, and terrified her also. Thanks be to God, she is a sound sleeper and missed most of my night time rescue missions.
Most people can recollect at least one moment in life when fear accelerated your heart, panicked your mind and ordered your movements. With this theme rolling in my spirit and Easter recently past, I noticed something, while reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days on earth. There’s a lot of fear and terror in the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. Look at this list from Matthew’s account alone starting in Chapter 26 to the end of the book.
The chief priests and elders feared backlash from Jesus’ followers.
Judas, fearful of discovery, tried to deny his role as traitor.
The arresting soldiers feared confrontation with Jesus and his followers and so came dressed for battle.
Panicked disciples deserted Jesus.
Jewish religious leaders feared loss of power to such a degree, they couldn’t recognize The Truth standing before them.
Peter feared someone might discover his relationship to Christ.
Pilate ignored justice and instead cowered before the demands of a mob.
We can reasonably assume that when the world went dark from noon until three, during Jesus’ crucifixion, most people felt anxiety or terror.
Further, when the temple veil split in two, rocks split, tombs broke open and dead people started walking around, many folks probably felt sheer terror.
The centurions near the cross felt terror at these events as they recognized too late that they murdered the Son of God.
The Pharisees feared Jesus’ disciples would try to make it appear that Jesus had risen by stealing his body.
People most likely panicked at the second earthquake which occurred when an angel moved the stone in front of the tomb.
Matthew states that the tomb guards “became like dead men,” when they saw the angel of the Lord.
Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary,” also felt fear from the events at the tomb.
Shortly after, the same women were frightened by the appearance of the Lord himself.
As believers, we rightly tend to focus on the best news in the Easter story, “He is not here, He is risen!” To minimize all the distress and turmoil that leads to that moment, however, is to do a great disservice to the story. Before any resurrection, there must be death. Both Jesus’ followers and his haters experienced tremendous upheaval and drama during his last earthly days. For his disciples and friends, hopes, dreams and faith died, albeit temporarily. Jesus’ true state remained buried under their fears and sorrows for several days. His detractors lost their reason, integrity and most likely, in the end many relinquished their souls to permanent death in the kingdom of darkness. These tragic individuals probably never comprehended that until the moment of their deaths.
Jesus’ resurrection made new life available to all mankind, but many missed it then and continue to ignore it now. What saddens God is when I, as his child, behave as if I don’t believe he is still a resurrecting, new-life-giving Creator.
Where do you need a resurrection today? In your body? In a relationship? In your finances or job? In what areas of your world right now does there seem to be more death than life? What dreams of yours are lying DOA in some tomb? How does fear keep you ensnared, afraid to hope or believe that those places of death in your life could be miraculously resurrected?
I don’t know what wakes you up in the night or haunts you during the day. The roots of fear are universal and common to all. I believe therefore that’s why the phrase “Fear not,” appears so many times in the Bible. God understands our anxieties, but He doesn’t want us to be controlled by them. That’s why Paul reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)
As we look at fear and its damage this next month, I urge you, if you struggle with this negative emotion, to memorize and meditate on the following Scriptures. When fear is a controlling problem, even in just one area, it becomes difficult for us to hear God and believe Him. The disciples couldn’t believe the good news about Jesus resurrection because of their terror at being discovered and killed also. Let the word of God begin to stand up in your heart and mind to resist this common attack of Satan.