Summary: Four reasons why Christians need not be afraid.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. If you would, please open your Bibles to the 28th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew & follow along as I read the first 10 verses of that chapter.
"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene & the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven &, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone & sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, & his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook & became like dead men.
"The angel said to the women, `Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come & see the place where He lay. Then go quickly & tell His disciples: `He has risen from the dead & is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.’
"So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, & ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. `Greetings,’ He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet & worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, `Do not be afraid. Go & tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’"
B. Now before we go on, I want you to note the number of times that the word "afraid" appears in that passage.
Vs. 4 says "the guards were so afraid..." In vs. 5, "The angel said to the women, `Do not be afraid.’" In vs. 8, as the women hurried from the tomb, they were "afraid yet filled with joy." Finally, in vs. 10, "Jesus said to them, `Do not be afraid.’"
Did you count them? Four times the word "afraid" appears in that passage. Now keeping that in mind, turn to the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, & listen as I read vs’s 17 & 18, where the apostle John sees Jesus.
"When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me & said: `Do not be afraid. I am the First & the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, & behold I am alive for ever & ever! And I hold the keys of death & Hades.’"
ILL. Do you know what a "black hole" is in astronomy? Of course, I realize that those of you who are fans of Star Trek do. Roughly speaking, a black hole is an spot in the vastness of space which astronomers tell us acts like a giant vacuum or whirlpool sucking everything around it into the hole.
Well, up until recently, the only black holes that had been found were in galaxies millions of light years away from the earth. But 6 years ago astronomers made the startling announcement that a black hole had been found nearby in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Headlines proclaimed that inevitably our sun & all the planets around it will be sucked right into it & everything will be gone.
Does that news bother you? How do you feel about it?
APPL. Well, I have mixed emotions. First of all it explains some things. Now I know where all my socks that never return from the dryer are going. And now I know why my wife’s glasses are constantly disappearing.
But think about it. If someday we’re going to be sucked up into this black hole, then why are we out here sweating & worrying & making plans for the future? Why even bother, if sometime soon the black hole of the universe is going to swallow us all up? Well, I have an answer for that.
C. But do you think maybe the women felt like they were in some kind of a black hole when they made their way to the tomb on that Easter morn? And how about the apostles who were hiding behind locked doors? They had invested their lives. They had believed with all their heart that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the one they should follow.
They had believed in His cause so completely that they left homes & families & security to follow Him. Then suddenly the black hole had come & Jesus was taken from them.
And the word that describes the emotion that gripped them is the word "fear." "Will I be next? Will they come after me, too? What happens tomorrow? With Jesus gone, what do I do, where do I go?"
APPL. Maybe some of you are experiencing a black hole this morning. Maybe it has taken away a loved one, a spouse, or a child, or a parent. Or maybe it has taken away your job & your security, & you’re not sure what you’re going to do next. So you wonder, "Why continue on?"