Fear of the Unknown

07.27.18 | Pulpit Posts

Have you ever been at an event and seen someone and you just know that you know them, but you can’t place them? Then you realize they’ve been in church with you, but you just don’t know them, because they come so infrequently.

So, the question is why didn’t you recognize them? It is because they’re not where you’re used to seeing them.

In This Sunday’s Gospel, the disciples weren’t looking for Jesus. As far as they knew, He was still back on the shore. They’re not expecting Him to show up at this moment.

Some might say that the disciples were at fault because they had left Jesus behind.

It wasn’t their fault that Jesus wasn’t with them as He had made them get into their boat. He probably said something like, “you guys go on home and I’ll catch up with you later.” The fact is Jesus wanted some time alone to pray.

But I think there’s more to it than that. I think Jesus knew all about the storm the Disciples were about to encounter. I think He knew the wind and waves will be against them. He knew how they’ll have to struggle with the oars. He knew how they would react when He showed up walking on the water. Jesus wanted to teach them a lesson on fear.

Yes, the disciples had been out on the sea rowing hard for hours. Yes, the water was rough, the winds harsh and it was 3 o’clock in the morning. But that doesn’t seem to bother them. These are things they know. Things they’re familiar with. They’re not afraid of the sea.

So, what is it that they are afraid of?

They were afraid of the unknown. They didn’t think they were seeing Jesus on the sea. They thought they were seeing a ghost. Fear is a response to the unknown. People are afraid of all kinds of things: Financial difficulties, unemployment, sickness, death, etc.

Almost without exception the one thing people get most afraid of is something that hasn’t happened yet. When we look at what is happening today, on our southern borders, the makeup of the Supreme Court, our leadership in Washington, International differences, there is concern, there is fear. That fear of the unknown robs us of our life and joy.

Maxx Lucado (Christian Author) tells us “Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.”

Fear of the unknown traps us in despair and that’s the situation Jesus placed His disciples in. He wanted them to face that fear in their own lives. He then gives them the cure for that fear. It wasn’t another miracle or sign from heaven. He simply said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid. Those simple words removed their fear.

Here Jesus is saying: “It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Or another way of saying it… “I’m here now. It’s OK. I’ve got it under control.”

That’s our promise as well. God has promised us “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So, with all that is going on in this country today, whereby our leadership has brought about a decrease in the morals of this country, a lack of compassion for our neighbors, actions that have been taken in favor of a select few, voices that have been ignored by those elected to office, we have too remember the Jesus we believe in. The Jesus who can heal the sick, raise the dead, feed 1000s with a little bit of nothing. The Jesus who can walk on water. But more than that, He’s the Jesus who not only has such great power but has such great love for us that we need to fear NOTHING.

May the waters of Baptism ever more deeply be flowing within us. May we reach out helping others and be like Jesus in showing compassion. May God give us the grace to keep our minds on those things that matter. Live in a way in which it is obvious that we are Christians and let those values, the values of Christianity dwell deep in us. God calls us to be our best selves.

It’s little wonder, that after Jesus stepped into the boat with His disciples, those in the boat worshipped him saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Rev. Robert Jacobs

Rev. Robert Jacobs


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