Where Fear Treads

palm_sunday02Have you ever noticed how much fear dominates the final scenes of Jesus’ life? And how the Lord responds to it Himself? It’s quite an object lesson.

We start with the processional into Jerusalem. The people come out in droves, lining the street as he passes, waving palms and placing cloaks across the crude roadway in honor of the great Rabbi that some perhaps have heard preach, and many others by word of mouth have heard of.

The welcome him to Jerusalem. Something exciting seems afoot here.

At the Passover Supper, Jesus tries to explain what is to come. He makes a special point of emphasizing to them how they should remember him.

He disappoints his disciples by telling them they shall not be great lords and masters in the coming kingdom but lowly servants, a thought that distresses and confuses them further. Peter assures the Lord that he is up to the task, he will willingly die for Jesus.

Judas, apparently so overwhelmed by how Jesus is not what he has suspected, fears that all has been for naught, and goes off to betray the very man he has followed for so long. His fear overcomes him, and he reckons his life worth a few pieces of silver. His fear has won.

When they come to arrest Jesus, one of his followers strikes out in anger and fear. He gains a rebuke from Jesus, and an instant healing of the damage done by the sword.

Peter in terror, of course denies the Lord, his fear overcoming him completely. All the other apostles hide in fear.

Arguably the enter proceedings before the Sanhedrin is an illustration of fear, fear of the unknown and fear that this man, this Jesus makes too much sense and is a danger to their authority, but also to their sense of how things should be. If you have lived your life in God a certain way, is it not petrifying to entertain the thought that you have judged things wrong all those years?

Perhaps because they are powerful men with authority, neither Pilate nor Herod seem fearful of Christ. They question him carefully, and find him without criminal intent or plan. Yet the Jewish council continues to demand his death, and having aroused the crowds, they take up the chant, “Crucify HIM.”

For now fear has entered the population in general, and those who formerly welcomed Jesus with palms and obeisance, have been converted into an unruly mob that is operating from fear. This one they welcomed has been arrested! His followers are in denial or hiding. Will they be arrested as well for seeming to welcome this now “so-called” Messiah? They are offered his release, but their fear condemns them to call for the release of Barabbas. Barabbas seems the safer of the two to them.  Call for the pardon of Jesus, and they too may find themselves in chains.

Jesus is paraded through the streets and people watch. They follow silently to Golgotha, where the crucifixion takes place. AND THE PEOPLE STOOD BY AND WATCHED.

And he died, and the curtain in the temple was rent, and the sun was eclipsed, and these same watchers now beat their breasts in lament. Fear now renewed.

Jesus throughout is the model of courage. He shows us how to behave in the face of terror, for certainly what lay before him as he entered Jerusalem was clear and frightful. He prayed to God that he be released from what lay ahead, but acknowledged that he was prepared to do as God wished, not as he might.

He stood in the face of unbelief and affront without blinking, without trembling, without fear. He answered calmly and then became silent for he knew that nothing he could say would change the outcome. It was his destiny and always had been. He bore his pain silently, and even on the cross cared more about others than himself.

Fear is the enemy. It always has been. Evil entered this world when the first human acted out of fear and denied help to his brother, but thought first of himself. “I have enough for me, but not for both of us” and he turned his hand against his brother and sent him away to death in order to save his own.

Fear has been our companion throughout human existence. Fear drives us to make decisions that appear right, but are usually not. It causes us to forsake exactly what we have claimed. Peter is the seminal example of what fear does to even the best of us. It is an object lesson.

No matter what the situation, we must turn away from fear and enter into the light that is Jesus. Bathed in that glowing presence, we can breathe freely, think clearly, and make the choice that God would always have us make–the choice that brings forth the kingdom in glory and love.

It is time to enter Jerusalem. It is time to face our fears. It is time to grasp the hand of our Lord, take a breath, and renew ourselves in the loving embrace of our God.

Amen.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. aliceny
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 11:37:52

    Beautiful, Sherry. You covered all the bases with this post. I’m new to your blog. Am looking forward to more good things from you.
    Thank you.
    Alice

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Mar 24, 2013 @ 12:22:56

      why thank you so much for your comment. I post once a week on Sunday, unless something comes along that I think folks might like to read. Blessings! !END

      Reply

  2. Tim
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 13:02:20

    Sherry, to face the world without fear–what a prayer! I think sometimes we’re too tolerant of fear in small doses: fear of embarrassment, fear of being late, fear of being caught uninformed. These tiny anxieties open us to greater fears that rule our lives. I think of the Song of Solomon’s wisdom: “Catch the little foxes that ruin the the vines.” The fearlessness we see in Christ during Holy Week is consistent with His character throughout the Gospels. He’s unafraid of others’ opinions and criticism all along. In this He teaches us what life without fear can be.

    Thanks so much for these thoughts as we finish our trek to the cross. They alert us to what we’re looking at in the Gospels and help us to see what is going on in us as well.

    Have a most blessed week, dear friend,
    Tim

    PS: To Alice: You are in a good place here, where you’ll find much to challenge and affirm your faith!

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Mar 25, 2013 @ 11:36:07

      You’re point about little fears is well taken. Those are the easy ones we can practice on for when the big ones fear. They can set the stage for a life of radical freedom and honesty, filled with what has come to be known as authenticity. Bless you this glorious week. !END

      Reply

  3. Stephanie Jill Rudd
    Mar 29, 2013 @ 06:44:49

    Beautiful post. Let us walk together into Jerusalem, in acceptance and with courage.

    Reply

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