Fear is rooted in what we believe. Circumstances, words, and things we see or hear can provoke it. To live a victorious life for Christ, we must harness our fears.
Even though the disciples lived with Jesus and saw Him perform many miracles such as, healing the sick, raising the dead, and feeding a multitude of people with just a few fish and loaves of bread, they were still fearful when difficult circumstances arose. We see an example of their fear in Mark 4:35-41. After teaching a large group of people, Jesus told His disciples that He wanted to cross over the Sea of Galilee. While sleeping in the back of the boat, a mighty storm arose. The winds were so fierce that waves were dumping water into the boat. The disciples woke Jesus because they feared their ship would sink and cause them to drown.
“But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’” Mark 4:38-41 (NKJV)
The disciples were fearful because their eyes were only on the circumstances. What they saw and heard put them in a state of panic. But note how they feared exceedingly after Jesus rebuked the wind and sea. The words feared exceedingly translate to mean struck with amazement, awe, and reverence to the point of terror and dread. The men were fearful when they thought their boat was sinking but even more terrified when they realized it was Jesus who calmed the storm. They were finally able to discern who they were following.
Whenever a story is repeated in the Bible, God wants us to pay special attention to the message. There is another account of a bad storm in Matthew 14:24-33. On the same day that Jesus taught and fed over 5000 people, miraculously changing two fish and five loaves of bread into plenty, He ordered His disciples to get into a boat and again cross over the Sea of Galilee. This time, He was not with them as He went up to the mountains to pray. In the fourth watch of the night, between 3-6am, the boat was in the middle of the Sea and great winds were causing great waves to toss it about.
“But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.” Matthew 14:24 (NKJV) The word contrary means opposed as an adversary, hostile, antagonistic. We all experience storms of adversity and sometimes they are hostile spiritual attacks. Even so, Jesus has His watchful eye on us all the time. He will come to us whenever we are in danger or call out to Him.
“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’” Matthew 14:25-27 (NKJV)
The disciples were troubled; again this word translates to fear, distress, and anxiety. Jesus senses their terror and immediately tries to comfort them by saying, Be of good cheer. How many times has Jesus said the same thing to us? Do not be afraid! Put aside your alarm for I am with you!
Here again, we see the disciples looking at their circumstances and not trusting in God’s protection. Peter wanted to believe Christ wasn’t a ghost. In faith, he got out of the boat and successfully walked on the water towards Christ. Unfortunately, he had a short walk.
“And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:28-31 (NKJV)
To Peter’s credit, he had enough faith to get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus. He didn’t doubt the Lord’s ability to enable his water walking experience. That was a good first step of faith! Unfortunately, the boisterous wind and strange circumstances were too much for Peter. Distracted, he took his eyes off Christ and began to sink.
Peter then made another smart move… He called out to Jesus. Lord, save me! Please note that our Lord’s response was immediate. This is so encouraging! God does not delay in saving the hurt and lost. Peter believed Jesus could save him. Peter trusted Jesus could help.
Fear can paralyze even the mightiest of saints… but it doesn’t have to. Fear of man is a snare. We can’t let the thoughts and attitudes of this world trap us. Circumstances may look frightful and impossible to overcome. But with Jesus by our side, we can walk through them.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25 (NKJV)
“ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)