An Excerpt taken from Josh’s book The Discovery: Beyond the Jesus of Flapjacks and Grilled Cheese Chapter 20, “Do We Have Enough Canned Meat?”
Written by Josh Via
Perspective and Fear
“For they still did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead” (John 20:9).
After three-and-a-half years of walking with Jesus, hearing His claims, observing His power and attesting to His deity, the disciples still did not understand that He must rise from the dead. They had heard all the right information, but it had gone in one ear and out the other. So it should come as no surprise when we discover the disciples completely shut in together, doors locked and boarded, ready for Hurricane Katrina. John explained:
“In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).
Their focus had become the here and now. Their perspective was limited. Never mind the fact that Jesus had explained multiple times that this would happen. Never mind the fact that they had seen dead men rise. Never mind the fact that the disciples always saw a consistency in what Jesus claimed and in what they observed. Yet, none of this made any difference in the fallout shelter. Their focus was limited. They couldn’t see past their own reality. All they knew was that this Jesus whom they followed for three-and-a-half years was now dead—really dead. After all, John had observed the whole ordeal at the foot of the cross. And now that Jesus was gone, fear surfaced—fear of the Jews—the guys that Jesus constantly ticked off. What hope could be found in such tragedy? What courage could be found in the face of such fear? What would it take to bring the disciples to their senses?
The disciples needed a change of perspective. They needed something to believe in. They needed the manifest presence of Jesus to eradicate their fear. And that’s what they got.
From Fear to Boldness in 3.5 Seconds
“Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19b-20).
I love that phrase, “Then Jesus came.” His coming changed everything. Through one little turn of events, the disciples were radically transformed from a cowardly, cuddled-in-a-tub bunch of spring pansies, to a dynamic, fearless force that awakened the known world to the power of the life-changing message of Jesus. These eleven men became fearless mouthpieces for the Gospel and carried the message of the cross from continent to continent. They were now witnesses to the resurrection—the seventh sign—the culmination of Jesus’ work on earth—and their fear was at once eliminated.
The fear that had once paralyzed them was now driven out by His very presence. Don’t believe me? Look what happened a few months later in the book of Acts. Peter and John endured imprisonment and a ruthless beating for preaching the message of Jesus. Following the brutal attack, the men were threatened to speak no longer in the name of Jesus. Their backbone became obvious as they responded,
“Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19b-20).
No longer do we find Jesus’ disciples boarded up in a dark room stocked with batteries, Spam and bottled water. The risen Christ dispelled the fear that had once consumed them. The risen Christ radically changed their perspective. And their actions that followed are perhaps the greatest argument for the resurrection of Christ.
Their perspective had changed. They had seen the risen Christ. Cowering in a corner, the disciples experienced the actual presence of Jesus, and it changed the way they perceived everything. Everything that Jesus had taught them now came into crystal clear focus. And now they were willing to die for Him. More than that, they were willing to live for Him. They were willing to live every moment of the rest of their lives for Him as they took the Gospel to the farthest reaches of the planet. The fear that had once limited their perspective and led to a mistrust of all that Jesus had claimed, was at once dispelled by His presence.
As a boy, I followed my dad on numerous adventures. None that were actually dangerous, but I had watched enough movies to magnify what little danger that did exist into full-blown fear. Fear that was needless and pointless. Fear induced by my limited perspective. Always my biggest enemy. Always my biggest challenge. But on each and every adventure, Dad always came through. He always led me home. He always dispelled fear by his presence.
So, why should we continue to allow our limited perspective to paralyze us into fearful living? Why do we live as if the presence of Jesus is beyond our reach, reserved for the Billy Grahams of the world? Why are we content to live this way? If the risen Christ has appeared to you, if the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in
your heart, don’t continue to live in fear as if He hasn’t. His presence is real. His presence can and should be experienced everyday of our lives. He is faithful. He never disappoints. He always comes through. He’s alive and well. He is the risen Savior. Allow the permeating presence of Jesus to dispel the fear that so easily discourages, sets back and paralyzes.
“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment” (1 John 4:18).