Sunday, June 21, 2020

Pentecost 3 - Proper 7

Pentecost 3 Proper 7
21 June 2020 
Matthew 10:5a, 21–33
Fear Factor

Reality television shows are like anchovies. You either likes ‘em or you don’t! The series “Fear Factor,” a stunt and daredevil game show was popular when my children in high school… a show I have never seen. In my estimation there’s plenty of fear to deal with. I don’t need to sit and watch it.

Fear and terror – Can come upon you.  It might be the result of a frightening diagnosis. A financial setback. A deadline you can’t meet. A relationship you can’t repair. A global pandemic. Which disrupts every aspect of life.

The possibilities are endless. The result is the same. Stress. Worry. And anxiety overtakes you. Perhaps they have paralyzed you. Just when you most need clear thinking. Or decisive action.

What is fear? Fear is - False evidence appearing real!

Have you ever been so afraid that you were kept from doing something you really wanted to do? Or knew you should do?

Has fear every kept you from expressing in word or deed the message of Christ? In the Gospel lesson for today, St. Matthew records a sermon of Christ to His disciples that shows how Jesus keeps fear from interfering. Let’s listen in, shall we?

I.              The fear of Failure. "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear {whispered} in {your} ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” Matthew 10:26-27 (NAS)

Like Jesus’ disciples, we may be tempted to fear that the proclamation of His Gospel in our words and deeds may come to naught.

Jesus overcomes such fear with the promise that His message will not fail, it will be as victorious as was He in overcoming sin, death, and Satan for us.

Therefore, we are liberated to proclaim His glorious message “upon the housetops.”

II.             The Fear of Death.  "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 (NAS)

The fear of bodily death was well founded for Jesus’ disciples. While it may not appear imminent for disciples of Christ today in America we would do well to ponder its possibility and our reaction.

Jesus overcame the fear of bodily death with His promise of life eternal with Him and the eschatological promise of the resurrection of the body.

Therefore, we are liberated to proclaim Him as the Lord of life and death.  Such is your courage in the face of those "who kill the body but cannot harm the soul."  Do not be afraid to speak clearly and openly what Christ has taught you. Be courageous to speak the truth of Scripture clearly and openly for all to hear even if it appears unpopular or dangerous.

Although you may be criticized by the world for name of Christ. Who cares? What does it matter?  ‘Haters always be hatin.’

Any mistreatment for speaking the truth clearly and openly is not some unexpected, accidental, random, meaningless experience. (Matthew 10:22, 25) That is just the way the world treated Christ. It is a sign that you belong to Christ. It's a sign that you are a part of His household. (See Hebrews 13:8) Don't be afraid of the names they call you. Those very names. Bind you to Christ.

III.         The fear of want.  "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And {yet} not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 (NAS)

Although we may not be threatened by death, like Jesus’ disciples we may be tempted to fear that our proclaiming of Jesus’ message may cost us some of the necessities of life.

Do not yield to the spirit of this age. Love the truth.  What Christ tells you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear {whispered} in {your} ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” You need not fear the face of any man. You are in Christ. 

The Father loves you. He’s concerned for you. He’s by your side. He’s in your corner. He’s got your back.

Fear cannot be totally eradicated. It cannot be stripped from the human psyche. Fear is a part of our make-up. It’s a question of what and whom do you fear.

Trust Christ. Not man. When Christ is feared, all other fear disappears. So be rational even with your fear.

Your heavenly Father took the lead. He sent Jesus to the cross. To be you substitute. He lived a perfect life for you. He suffered and died at the cruel and bloody cross for you. He broke down the door of death. He ascended into heaven. He prepares a place for you.

He is with you at this very moment. In His Word. In His Sacraments. To strengthen and preserve you.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Vv.29-31

The Father loves you. You are His. He sustains, directs, supports you. He leads you through troubled waters. He points you to His promises, which will calm your fears and turn your anxieties and suspicions into a quiet confidence. It is well with your soul when Jesus guides and leads you.

So trust in His timing. Rely on His promises. Wait for His answers. Believe in His miracles. Rejoice in His goodness. Relax in His presence. Come near to Jesus and He will come near to you.  James 4:8

If you take these words of Jesus seriously, you have to come to this conclusion; your heavenly Father is completely fascinated with you. He’s taken the time to count the number of hair on your head. Who else would do something than that other then He who is in love with you!  

Jesus overcomes this fear with His beautiful promise of His intimate and extensive providence. The Lord will provide.

Therefore, we are liberated to acknowledge Him before men as the good and gracious Lord, who provided for our ultimate need on Good Friday.

Because Christ overcame all possible threats to His mission for you, you can be confident that He also provides you with His strength and comfort to keep fear from interfering with your discipleship. The ultimate reward of such discipleship is that He will acknowledge you before His Father in heaven.

Words – 1,145
Passive Sentences – 7%
Readability – 79.7%
Reading Level – 4.4
Lift High the Cross copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

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