Today we are studying John 6:16-21.
The title for the sermon comes straight out of the passage, Jesus’ words to His disciples, “Don’t be afraid!”
We are going to talk about fear, and what Jesus has to say about our fear.
Please open your Bibles to the passage to follow along.
While we are turning to the passage, let’s review the setting:
Jesus’ disciples had just returned from ministering throughout Israel.
Jesus had sent them out in pairs to proclaim the good news that the Kingdom of God was near.
As they came back and wanted to share with Jesus about all the exciting things they saw God doing, crowds of people were coming to Jesus for healing.
They could not get a break to talk with Jesus.
So, Jesus told his disciples to go with him across Galilee to get away together.
They crossed the sea, but the crowds followed and found them on the other side.
It was getting late in the afternoon, so Jesus told his disciples where they were going to get food for all of these people.
Jesus was testing them, knowing what he was going to do.
He wanted them to fully comprehend the situation.
They were in a place where there was no way to get enough food for all of these people.
Well, they did find a boy with five small barley loaves and two fish, but what good was that?
Jesus did what only God can do.
Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish so that everyone—all 5000 men and all the women and children, as well—had enough to eat… and more!
At the end, Jesus instructed his disciples to gather up the food that was left over.
From those five barley loaves, they picked up 12 basket-fulls of left-overs!
From 5 loaves and 2 fish, Jesus provided enough for everyone to have their fill, and more—one basket for each disciple!
Jesus was showing them what He had been saying, that He is the Son of God.
He is God, and does the same things the Father does.
Just as God provided manna for their ancestors in the dessert, Jesus provided for them!
The people saw Jesus provide for them, and wanted to make him king right then and there.
Jesus encouraged his disciples to leave ahead of him while he dismissed the cowd.
They were frightened
The disciples left in the evening, before dark.
Matthew and Mark let us know that Jesus was coming to them shortly before dawn (i.e. between 3 and 6 AM).
So, these men had set out to sail about 3 miles to their destination, but instead spent all night on the sea, rowing.
They had already had a busy couple weeks ministering.
Now, they were up all night struggling against a storm.
They had to be exhausted!
Then, they see Jesus walking on the water!
That is something you don’t expect and you never see.
They immediately think, “Ghost,” and they are scared!
That is when Jesus says to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew gives some more detail about this incident that none of the other gospel writers include.
Turn to Matthew 14:27-33.
Wow! Peter was amazing!
He went from frightened to stepping out of the boat to walk on water with Jesus!
But then he saw the wind and was afraid and began to sink.
Fear is a big part of this situation.
Before we dig into this, I do want to look at one other passage.
This is not the first time that Jesus and the disciples were in a storm on the sea of Galilee.
Please read Matthew 8:23-27 with me.
Another situation in which fear was the prominent theme, and how Jesus was working with his disciples in the midst of their fear.
Fear, Worry, Anxiety
We all deal with fear, worry and anxiety.
Some of us more than others in different situations.
Some of us more than others in general.
But we all deal with it.
Fear is a God-given emotion.
It is a good thing as intended.
When you feel the heat of a hot object, your body instantly pulls back.
When you see something falling at you, your heart beats faster, the blood starts carrying the oxygen to your muscles, your body tenses and you are ready to move quickly to get out of the way.
Fear can be good.
Fear is also good in keeping us from doing wrong.
That is the point of law and punishment.
Fear keeps us from doing things we should not… sometimes.
However, ever since the first sin, fear has become bigger, and badder than it was supposed to be.
I was afraid
After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid.
They hid from the God they had disobeyed, and did not instantly come when He called to them.
He was the One who as a God of justice would discipline them, but He is also the only One, as a God of love and compassion, who could restore them.
Instead of coming to Him, fear controlled them and they hid.
Fear controls and cripples us
Ever since that time, Fear, worry and anxiety have plagued mankind.
We all struggle with fear beyond what it was orginally meant to be.
Instead of being an emotion to help us, it has become an emotion that cripples us.
Who has not been woken in the middle of the night because something went bump?
What is racing through you mind at that point?
What is your heart doing?
What are your first thoughts?
Who has not had a loved one that did not come home when they were supposed to arrive?
What thoughts do we have?
We all struggle with so many fears, worries and anxiety.
We worry about what people with think.
We worry about injuries.
We worry about long-term effects of situations.
We worry about paying bills.
We worry about getting bills.
We worry about getting sick.
We worry about dying.
We worry about the weather.
We worry about our plans not turning out the way we hope.
We worry about traffic.
We worry about mistakes we make.
We worry about our bosses and coworkers.
We worry about our kids.
We worry about grades.
We worry about making mistakes.
We worry about our homes.
We worry about getting things done.
We worry about not doing enough.
We worry about being too busy!
We worry about… a lot of things.
In this day and age, I believe fear, worry and anxiety have truly gripped us.
It has a strangle-hold on us.
For too many of us, it ruins us, our relationships, and the ones we love.