Summary: Can you remember a time when you were so afraid you thought you weren’t going to make it? The most dangerous storm that night wasn’t the weather on that lake. It was the storm of fear raging in the minds of the disciples.
One of my favorite stories is about the country preacher who used to visit a widow in his church named Mrs. Jones. He liked to visit her around lunchtime because she had a vegetable garden and she loved to cook fresh vegetables for her pastor. One day the preacher arrived at lunch, and knocked on Mrs. Jones’ door, but she didn’t answer. So he walked through her garden calling, “Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones.” He was perplexed because the back door was open and he could see food cooking on the stove, but he didn’t see Mrs. Jones. Knowing her sense of humor, he left his card on her door with this note: “Dear Mrs. Jones, Read Revelation 3:20.” That verse says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock and if anyone will hear my voice I will come in and eat with them.”
What he didn’t realize was that about the time he showed up, Mrs. Jones was getting out of the bathtub, and she was too embarrassed to answer the door, so she hid behind the door until he left. After reading the pastor’s card, she wrote him a note and left it on his desk the next Sunday. It said, “Dear Pastor, I got your card. Read Genesis 3:10.” “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.”
That’s a great story, but it also gives us the first reference to fear in the Bible. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve never experienced fear. But after they disobeyed God, we find the first expression of fear. Since that time until today, fear has been a part of our human existence.
Fear is coming from all sides today. If you watch the news or read the newspaper, you know there are a lot of scary things happening in our world. A recent Wall Street Journal article calls 2014 “a year of living on the brink.” Why? Ebola in West Africa; and popping up in the U.S.; and another tragic school shooting in Washington. Overseas, ISIS on the move in Syria and Iraq; riots in Hong Kong; Russian and Ukraine facing off and then toss in the wild fluctuations in the stock market.
The National Institute for Mental Health has cataloged over 300 different phobias or fears. The top 10 on their list are:
1. Fear of public speaking
2. Fear of death
3. Fear of terrorist attacks
4. Fear of snakes
5. Fear of spiders and insects
6. Fear of heights
7. Fear of flying
8. Fear of confined spaces
9. Fear of open spaces
10. Fear of thunder and lightning.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld jokes that when you consider more people fear speaking in public than death, at a funeral a person would rather be in the casket than giving a eulogy!
My friend, and long-time Pastor at First Baptist, Houston, John Bisagno, used to joke about being afraid to fly. He tells the story of going to a bus station and booking a ticket to another city where he was going to preach. The ticket agent said, “It would be a lot quicker to fly there.” Dr. Bisgano said, “Well, I’m afraid to fly.” The lady recognized him and began to give him a hard time. She said, “Here you are a preacher of the Bible and you’re afraid to fly? Don’t you know that God says in the Bible, “I am with you always?” He corrected her and said, “No, it says LOW, I am with you always. And that’s why I’m staying LOW!”
In this passage we’re going to discover some terrified disciples. We’re going to learn how Jesus taught them to overcome their fears.
Mark 6:45-53. “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.”
What is fear? If you looked it up in a dictionary you find that fear is “a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the threat of danger.” The disciples felt agitation and anxiety because they thought they were going to sink and drown. Jesus walked right into their fears and said, “It’s just me. Don’t be afraid.” What is it in your life that is causing you to be afraid? Jesus has a message for you today and it the same. “I’m here. Don’t be afraid.”