Martin Luther King said that fear must be mastered:
Normal fear protects us; abnormal fear paralyses us. Normal fear motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare; abnormal fear constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives. Our problem is not to be rid of fear but, rather to harness and master it.
Let’s look at fear… and hope.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:1-3)
The women could not prepare the body because of the Sabbath. They had fear of the God of the Sabbath and of the waiting for the Sabbath to be over.
We experience fear waiting for God to reveal himself.
The women came in the dark of dawn.
We fear when we are alone. Today there is constant background noise – we are encouraged to seek distraction.
They were going to a cemetary near the place of execution. A sealed tomb with Roman guards.
We are afraid of haunted rooms, afraid of death.
They feared the physical challenge of the stone sealing the tomb. They had the fear of seeing the battered body of the one they loved.
Alex Jones, the presenter from BBC’s The One Show, when climbing a sheer cliff for charity spoke of the emotional challenge as worse than the physical challenge.
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:4-8)
Fear in the impossible, the unbelievable they found when they arrived. They were distressed. They missed out that the body was gone because of the sight of the angel at first.
Can God really speak into my heart & life? Maybe church isn’t like we expected.
The young man inside the tomb clearly proclaimed “He is risen!” But the women couldn’t take it in. The story didn’t end the way they expected. When Jesus died, hope drained from the women and fear filled their hearts.
Maybe you’ve heard God speak to you but you’re afraid to enter in. Fear can freeze us from receiving hope.
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. (Mark 16:9-11)
Time after time, the disciples were told the amazing news that Jesus had risen, but fear had driven out their hope, and they didn’t believe it.
We need hope in our lives. We hope for exam results, that will affect the rest of our lives, and the football results, which have little effect on us personally. But we need a bigger hope than that.
Hope is the flame that thaws our fears.
There is hope for us in Jesus’ resurrection. Hope for today and even better hope for the future. A love that casts out fear.
“We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King
[From a sermon by Pete Orphan 20/4/14]