And in the fourth watch of the night He (Jesus) came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." Matthew 14:25-27
Read through Scripture and you will see angels almost always begin their interactions with human beings by saying, "Fear not." Most of us can understand why a fellow human being might need that assurance.
It should be noted that Jesus greeted His frightened, wave-tossed disciples in a slightly different way. Yes, He tells them not to be afraid, but first, He wants them to know that He is the One, the only One who can help them.
That is why He begins: "Take heart, it is I."
With those words, Jesus wanted His crew to know the worst of storms cannot stop Him from coming to offer help and hope and assistance. Still today, Jesus comes to us in our storms and presents to us the assistance that allows His faithful followers to "take heart."
That's good for us to know.
In the early church, Christians struggled with fear. Daily they were challenged by persecutions, pains and personal problems. To calm these concerns and cares, the writer to the Hebrews, by the Holy Spirit's inspiration, told them -- and us -- how to successfully deal with fear. He said, "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrew 11:1).
In other words, because of Jesus, you can take heart. Even if we don't see Him, you can take heart.
You see, being a Christian doesn't give an individual an immediate, instantaneous immunity to every fear of life. But this is our sinful shortcoming, not the Lord's. In contrast, we find when we truly trust in the Christ, we will be able to take heart.
Jesus will be there: doing what is right and best for us in every situation.
The kind of faith we are talking about here is more than raw knowledge. The devil has knowledge about religion. But knowledge is not enough. It's not enough to know Jesus as a great Teacher, a wise Philosopher, a brilliant Leader, a Person with great insight and love.
If that's all you know about Him, your life will be lived in fear.
But when you recognize that Jesus, who conquered sin, the devil and death for us is offering us His peace and presence, His support and strength, things change. Fear is put into its proper place, and we are granted the peace that passes all human understanding.
This is why, this day, every day, you should hear the crucified and risen Redeemer who comes to the midst of your messes and says, "Take comfort, it is I."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that fear is no longer the ruler of my soul, heart and mind. Because Jesus is my Savior, I rejoice in my forgiveness and give thanks for His comforting words: "Fear not, it is I." May I live in that comfort always. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries