Summary: One of the results of the resurrection is that we no longer have to live in fear.
The Discovery Channel recently did a story on the Top Ten Phobias that people have (www.exn.ca). Phobia comes from the Greek word for fear, but refers to a panic that is completely out of proportion to the perceived threat behind it. Here are some of the top fear factors.
#10: Necrophobia. The fear of death causes some people to worry so much about dying that they have little quality of life.
#9: Brontophobia is not the fear of brontosauruses; it’s the terror of thunderstorms.
#5: Claustrophobia is the fear of being trapped in a small confined space.
#4: Agoraphobia is the fear of open places.
#3: Aerophobia is what I had when I was up in a plane with Scott Peterson.
#1: Arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, is the number #1 fear of people, affecting half of all women (it’s actually 100% in my household), and one out of 10 men.
I heard just this week that two out of three Americans fear that there will be another terrorist attack in our country before the November elections. Here are two other phobias. Can you guess their definitions?
Ecclesiophobia Fear of church
Homilophobia Fear of sermons
If you have these two horrors today, you’re in trouble. We’ve all experienced fear at one time or another. One person writes that fear is “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind.” I like columnist Dave Barry’s perspective: “All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears – of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark…and of the words, ‘Some Assembly Required.’”
One of the results of the resurrection is that we no longer have to live in fear. As we learned last week, when Jesus appeared to people after He was raised to life, the lives of those who saw Him were never the same. As the two followers trudged home to Emmaus, we discovered that:
Jesus is our companion.
Jesus wants us to have conversations with Him.
Jesus uses the Word to provide correction.
Jesus craves communion with us.
Jesus has commissioned us to share the good news with others.
We pick up the story after these two believers bolt back to Jerusalem with the message of Jesus’ resurrection. When they get there, they discover that Jesus has also appeared to Peter. Luke 24:36 says, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” Please turn to John’s account of this encounter in John 20:19-23 as we discover five ways to forsake our fears.
1. Embrace His Peace. Take a look at verse 19: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” The emphasis here is on the “first day” of the week, the same day Jesus rose from the dead. The New Testament singles out Sunday as the single most important day in remembrance of the Resurrection. Here are just a few examples. Acts 20:7: “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…” John writes in Revelation 1:10: “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” Warren Wiersbe writes: “The Sabbath commemorates God’s finished work of Creation and the Lord’s Day commemorates Christ’s finished work of Redemption, the ‘new creation.’”
When we read that the disciples were together, we know that Thomas was absent and that Judas had killed himself. The two from Emmaus were among them, and there could have been more. They are together, “with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.” They are 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 disciples were a likely choice. And so they’ve barricaded themselves in a room. The word “fear,” or “photos” 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.
And then suddenly, without warning, Jesus appears and says, “Peace be with you!” This is yet one more application of Matthew 18:20 when Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Somehow in His resurrection body, He was able to come through locked doors and He didn’t even knock. Notice the plural “doors,” which meant that they had probably locked the gate into the house and the door to the actual room they were huddled in. Nothing could keep Jesus out. I wonder if the disciples’ first reaction was one of guilt and shame because they thought Jesus was going to rebuke them for their failure to stand with Him in His time of need. Luke 24:37 says that not only were they afraid of the enemies, but they were also “startled and frightened” when Jesus appeared.