Fear and Faith. Throughout much of the biblical narrative we encounter stories of people who danced between fear and faith. Stories such as the fear of the disciples on the stormy sea, to the townspeople after witnessing the healing of the Gerasene demoniac, to Jairus and his daughter. Yet, in the midst of these fears, we also encounter the Jesus who is bigger than our fears. The Jesus who tells us, “Do not fear. Instead, have faith.” In this weeks’ message our guest, Pastor Dennis Edwards from Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN, takes us on a journey through these stories and exhorts the church to live in love – for there is no fear in love.
We live in a time where we are tempted to give way to fear. Fears over the current political climate have erupted and stories of injustice have broken loose. Guest speaker, Pastor Dennis Edwards encourages us this week with a word of hope; reminding us that worldly governments will fail us, but that our faith is to be built not on the governments of this world, but on Christ, the one who drives out fear, and his Kingdom.
Within the gospel of Mark we read of three significant stories of people who experienced fear due to their surrounding circumstances. And in the midst of those fears, Jesus revealed that he and his Kingdom are bigger than fear.
In Mark 4, we come across the story of the disciples and Jesus caught on a stormy sea. Seized by fear over the monstrosity of the storm crashing over the boat, the disciples cry for Jesus to wake from his slumber in the stern and help. In response, Jesus got up and said to the wind and the sea, “Hush. Be still.” And the storm died down and became perfectly calm. Jesus then turns to his disciples and asks, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Fear and Faith. In this story we see that Jesus is bigger than natural disasters.
Dennis shares another story of fear and faith. This is the story of the Gerasene Demoniac. Here, we read of Jesus and his disciples engaging with a man filled with a legion of demons. The man was naked, chained hand and foot, for no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day he would cry out and cut himself with stones. As Jesus drew near, the man ran over and bowed down before him, pleading with Jesus not to send him out of the area. Jesus rebuked the demons and sent them into a herd of swine where upon they rushed off the cliff and into the lake where they drowned. The man who was once possessed was sitting there, clothed and his right mind. And those who had known the man were afraid.
Fear and Faith. In this story we see that Jesus is bigger than the enemy.
The third story we read of is actually a story within a story, as is so common in Mark’s writings. In the fifth chapter we read of two healings – the first is of a woman who had severe bleeding for over 12 years. The second is of Jairus’ daughter who was sick and soon pronounced dead.
In the story of the woman with severe bleeding, Mark tells us of her faith that drew her out from the margins of society and emboldened her to crawl her way to Jesus. She thought to herself, “If I can just touch the hem of his [Jesus] robe, I will be healed. Immediately upon touch his robe, the woman was fully restored. The disciples searched through the large crowd to bring the woman to Jesus. When they found her, she was trembling with fear. But Jesus encouraged her, “Daughter. Do not fear. Your faith has made you well!”.
Meanwhile, Jairus was waiting for Jesus to come to his house and heal his sick daughter. While Jairus waited for Jesus to finish with the woman with severe bleeding, some people came from Jairus’ home and informed him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother with the teacher anymore?”
Overhearing what they said, Jesus responded, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
And Jesus went to the home of Jairus and, taking his daughter by the hand he says to her, “Get up!” Immediately she got up and walked around. All the people were astonished.
Fear and faith. In this story we see that Jesus is bigger than our sickness and bigger than death.
Time and again Jesus instructs us not to fear, but to have faith. Faith that Jesus is bigger. That Jesus is who he says he is. Our faith, says Jesus, will make us well. The path, Dennis reminds us, from moving beyond our fear and toward faith, is the path of Love. It is God. “Perfect love drives out fear.” God, then, is the one who moves us from our fear to a life of faith.
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