“These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.”
Jesus had performed a mighty miracle when He gave sight to a man who had been blind from his birth. While attempting to establish the facts, the leaders called the blind man’s parents. They tried to avoid the issue by saying he could speak for himself. The verse above shows the reason for their hesitancy. They were afraid that they would be put out of the synagogue if they said that Jesus was the Christ. His miracle made it clear that He was.
Of what are we afraid? We may fear being ostracized from our group of friends on one hand, or death on the other. And any number of events imagined and real in between. Fear makes us do things that we know we shouldn’t. Our strongest convictions can melt in the face of fear. These days there seems to be more to fear than ever.
Daniel 3 tells the famous story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Nebuchadnezzar set up an idol, and commanded everyone to worship it. Anyone that didn’t worship the idol faced a death sentence; to be cast into a fiery furnace. Regardless, these three men refused to do it. In verses 16-18 we read, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Their bold and confident answer to the king was the opposite of fear. In spite of the brutal death promised by Nebuchadnezzar, they stood firm. In Luke 12:4,5 Jesus said, “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” This is in line with what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had said. They were more afraid of dishonoring God than to worship the king’s idol, even at the cost of their lives.
The worst that can happen to us at the hands of our fellow man is death. After that, they have no power or authority to do anything more. Jesus said that the One to fear is God, Who after death is able and right to judge, and to cast into hell.
Noah is mentioned in Hebrews 11:7, where we are told, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Here fear is mentioned, but it is fear of God that is meant. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Noah trusted God, and when God told him to build an ark, that is what he did. It took him one hundred years to do it. But he finished the job because he feared God. And he and his family were saved from the flood. Hebrews 11:27 tells of Moses, who, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Moses did not fear Pharaoh but Him Who is invisible.
Someone once said, “I am not afraid to die. It’s just how fast.” The stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Noah, and Moses reveal their desire to trust God in their situation, even if it meant death. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, death reigns over mankind. It is inevitable. Who else can we trust with the weakest moment in our lives? And if we can trust our God with that, what else is there with which we cannot trust Him?
To the Romans, Paul put it this way, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
Jesus said in Luke 12:27-32, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It is His good pleasure to care for us.
Of what are we afraid? Our God reigns, and we can trust Him, and not give in to our fears.
Sovereign Ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command.
He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by His wise decree.
Times of sickness, times of health;
Times of poverty and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;
Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste a Savior’s love:
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.
Plagues and deaths around me fly,
Till He bids I cannot die:
Not a single shaft can hit
Till the God of love thinks fit.
O Thou gracious, wise and just,
In Thy hands my life I trust:
Thee, at all times, will I bless;
Having Thee, I all possess. (John Ryland)