And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” Matthew 17:6, 7 (NASB)

Physical life is filled with burdens. The gift of living in this country removes some of them. However, as beneficial as living in this country is, those benefits do not remove our biggest burden. In fact, those benefits at best can only temporarily distract us from the biggest burden we all carry from time to time.

What is this burden? It is the burden of terrorizing fear. Accidents terrorize us! The passing of time terrorizes us! Serious sickness terrorizes us! Unexpected, uncontrollable forces terrorize us! The shocks of bad surprises terrorize us! Those do not begin to approach the terrors of personal phobias. Despite our claims, we all fear something.

In the above reading, Jesus took three disciples to the summit of “the mountain of transfiguration.” These men came face to face with (1) pure holiness--which always terrorizes people because we all have evil in us, (2) God’s power--which scares powerless humanity silly, and (3) Jesus’ identity--he was more than a man, more than just a righteous friend. To say he is God’s Son is one thing; to see it is quite another.

Peter, James and John’s reaction: In overwhelming fear, they fell on their faces -- too scared to look.

Note Jesus’ response to their fear. He did NOT say, “I thought you were godly men!” or “Where is your courage?” or “What are you afraid of?” or “I am so disappointed in you men!” or “Can you lead others if you are terrorized by God’s presence?”

Instead, Jesus touched them, told me it was okay to get up, and encouraged them not to be afraid. Jesus understood their reaction, cared about them, and encouraged them. Jesus was not ashamed of them for being afraid. Instead he helped them in their weakness. Jesus lifted the burden of their fear! Jesus’ mission to you: to be your burden-lifter.

Never be ashamed of Jesus. He is never ashamed of you. Let him lift YOUR fears.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 6 February 2011

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