Sermon for Saturday
But He said unto them, It is I, be not afraid. John 6:20
During a Dale Carnegie session many years ago, I watched the instructor as he worked with a group of students. It was the opening session of the course, and most of these folks had never spoken in public. For their first session, the instructor simply sat six people in the front row, facing the audience, and he asked each of them a series of questions. The situation appeared to be the opposite of intimidating. But most of the students were very nervous. One woman was so agitated that she broke down in tears as she tried to answer the questions. What was she so afraid of? Experts tell us that one of the greatest fears on earth for many people is the fear of public speaking. Although it sounds irrational, it is a real fear, and it prevents many people from succeeding in many areas of their life. There are many fears around us, some more terrible than others. Removing the source of the fear is the only solution. As our text indicates, the best way to remove fear is the presence of the Lord Jesus.
We smile at the disciples’ fears now; they were afraid they were seeing a ghost, and we don’t believe in ghosts nowadays. But the fear was very real to them. And there are some fears that are very real to us today, many of them fears that will make us smile a few years hence. But today, they trouble us. Many are afraid of diseases that might destroy our health or even kill us. Many are afraid of losing jobs or of not having enough money to meet our needs. Others are afraid of changing circumstances such as different homes, different neighbours, different government, and a host of other changes that come along. So many fears come along, and they leave us in deep anxiety, in pain, and in confusion. What we need is the assurance of Jesus presence to chase those fears away and free us again.
Jesus’ presence made all the difference on Galilee, and His presence makes all the difference now. To know we are not alone and to know that He is near banishes the anxieties and worry. To know He is near is to know that everything will be alright. As we used to sing in Sunday school, ‘With Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm’. But it is not just His presence that we appreciate, it is Who He is that makes the difference. None other than the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the God of eternity, the Owner of the cattle on a thousand hills is with us. No need exists that He cannot meet, and no fear troubles us that He is unable to banish with His ‘Peace, be still’.
Our fears all vanish in direct proportion to our acceptance of the reality of Jesus’ presence. -Jim MacIntosh