December 10, 2011
The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." John 6:18-20
Some years ago I was told of a little boy who had been given a part in the church's Easter play.
Playing the role of an angel at the empty tomb, he had been entrusted with one line. That single sentence was "It is I. Be not afraid." To his credit, no actor on the silver screen ever rehearsed his lines with as much dedication as did that little lad.
Again and again he said it: "It is I. Be not afraid." He said it fast and slow; he said it with emphasis on one word and then on another; he said it loudly, and he said it in a whisper.
I would love to tell you all this practice made the prospect of the play more comfortable. It didn't. By the day of the service he was a wretched wreck. The boy's stomach churned, his hands shook and his voice had a quaver, which hadn't been there during rehearsals.
Trying to alleviate the boy's butterflies, one of the teachers kept coaching him, until it was time for him to appear on stage. It was then that he got his first look at the crowd -- at the hundreds of faces who were looking right at him.
His brain stood still and his mouth operated independently. Instead of saying, "It is I. Be not afraid," he shouted: "It's me! And I'm scared to death!"
Although we may not like to admit it, the little boy's words are familiar to all of us. Think how many times in your life have you not silently admitted "Lord, it's me, and I'm scared to death"? Did you say it -- when after some tests -- the doctor said you were entering the hospital for a next-day surgery? How about when finances were in critically short supply or when you heard footsteps behind you as you walked down a dark alley?
Yes, most of humanity has said the words: "I'm scared to death."
The question is this: Have they heard Jesus say, "I'm here. You don't have to be afraid"? Coming from anyone else that claim would be arrogant and boastful. Spoken by Jesus who has vanquished our great enemies: sin, death and devil, that sentence is a great comfort.
They tell us and, therefore, we know that the Christ who was crucified is also the Redeemer who has risen. It is the living Lord who has promised to be with us in sadness and sorrow. With Him beside us we know that nothing ... nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which is ours in Christ Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for having lived, suffered, died and risen to defeat our enemies, we shall always be in Your debt. But we also thank You for the promise to be with us and help us through the difficulties of this life. For You I give thanks. In Your Name I give it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries