Summary: One of the results of the resurrection is we no longer have to live in fear. We could say it like this: When in dread, remember Jesus rose from the dead; He will come near when we are quarantined with fear!
Rev. Brian Bill
April 11-12, 2020
The very first Easter did not take place in a crowded worship space filled with singing and praising. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in a house. Instead of sheltering in place, they were shaking in place.
Because they were friends with Jesus, it was dangerous for them to go out. On top of that, they were filled with fear. They wanted to believe the good news they heard from the women that morning, but it seemed too good to be true. Could Jesus really be alive?
They were living in a time of despair and discouragement. If they left their homes, their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Did a miracle really happen? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?
Huddled in this house, the disciples dared to believe that hope was possible, that God’s love and peace were more powerful than an epidemic of anxiety.
Do you know what the most frequent exhortation in the Bible is? It’s not “love one another” or even, “love God.” The most common command is some variation of: “Do not be afraid,” appearing some 365 times, one for every day of the year. It’s comforting to know this charge is often followed by, “for I am with you.”
Don’t let anyone tell you Easter is cancelled this year! Instead, it’s possible to encounter the living Christ more profoundly while locked in our homes than if we were able to gather in our worship center!
Easter matters because it changes everything. Without the resurrection of Jesus, we’d still be stuck in our past sins, we’d be powerless over our present problems and we’d be filled with fear about the future. But everything changed when Jesus rose from the dead.
No, Easter cannot be cancelled and hope cannot be quarantined!
Let’s give our attention to God’s inspired, inerrant and authoritative Word. Listen to John 20:19-22: “19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
One of the results of the resurrection is we no longer have to live in fear. We could say it like this: When in dread, remember Jesus rose from the dead; He will come near when we are quarantined with fear!
We’re going to discover four ways to have Jesus come near when we’re filled with fear.
1. Embrace His Peace. Take a look at verse 19: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”
The disciples were afraid because their leader had been arrested and crucified as a revolutionary. Generally, if your leader has been killed, the authorities would be looking for you, too. On top of that, the body of Jesus was missing and since the religious authorities didn’t have it, and the Romans didn’t have it, the thought was the disciples were the likely culprits.
And so, they’ve barricaded themselves in a room. The word “fear,” or “phobos” in Greek, means to be “alarmed, frightened and in terror.” It carries with it the idea of “flight.” Maybe they were planning how to escape from Jerusalem without being seen.
As we’ve been going through this coronavirus crisis, fear and anxiety are at an all-time high. Some of us are struggling to sleep while others are experiencing panic attacks. A recent study shows many are having “pandemic dreams” described as vivid, weird and horrifying. One person dreamed she had called an Uber, but a hearse showed up instead.
A headline in USA Today this week summarizes it well: “Coronavirus interrupted our lives. Now it’s invading our dreams.” One expert in dreams says the most universally common dream is one where a person is being chased. The pandemic has put a twist on it: “Now what people are dreaming of in these chase dreams is something faceless…something really hard to identify, something that’s unknown.”
One person put it like this, “My dreams are dreams of being a refugee, of an exile…I am running from something and I’m running to something, but I don’t know what that running to is.”