Countering FEAR with Fact

“And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” – Mark 10:32-34
 
Screen Shot 2020-10-15 at 11.40.35 AMOne of my favorite movies is a two-part French film series; Jean de Florette, & Manon des Sources – that translates as “John of the Flowers” & “Manon of the Springs”… they tell a powerful story of personal responsibility & how our actions impact not only ourselves, but the results move away from us in waves, impacting generations to come.
 
The story goes as such: Cesar Souberyran, years before – away to war – returns to find his love, Florette,  married and with child.  Heartbroken & cynical, he pours his energy into helping his only remaining relative – his Nephew, Ugolin – have the physical comforts he did not.  Through scheming, & even physical violence, his actions lead to an accident that ends of the life of Jean, Florette’s now grown son, and so Cesar & Ugolin take his land. This land has a naturally occurring Spring & they grow very wealthy growing Tulips for market. 
 
BASICALLY, a man loses the woman he loves, so as revenge he takes what he wants in return – her son’s property.  A few years later, however Ugolin is wealthy & wants to start a family, but falls in love with Jean’s only daughter, Manon, who – seeing the havok Ugolin & his uncle caused for her father, rejected his advances, resulting in Ugolin’s eventual heartbreak & suicide.  Towards the end of the second movie Cesar goes to a local convent to speak to an old friend from his youth.  Sitting together, discussing the “old days”, Cesar asks the nun about the now-deceased Florette, she realizes something tragic; “You never received her letter?  Oh no, this is tragic indeed.”  And Cesar learns for the first time that Jean, the man he murdered out of both jealousy & greed, to provide for his nephew – the results of which led to his nephew’s eventual suicide – Jean was HIS OWN SON.  In trying to take what was “his”, he destroyed everything in his wake – even his own son.
 
Let me tell you, the moment that fact is revealed it’s like the whole weight of everything Cesar has done comes crushing down on your shoulders – I literally wailed when this part of the story unfolded.  That one little truth changed EVERYTHING.  Not having the whole truth about his situation led him down a troubling, ultimately self-destructive path. 
 
It really helps having the BIG PICTURE.
 

Here in Mark 10 Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem.  Peter had just been bragging – as he often did – about something he did for Jesus – and Jesus had been – as He often was – setting Peter straight with a healthy reminder that “the first will be last, and the last first.
 
And then, with eyes set on Jerusalem – with EYES ON HIS OWN DEATH – he unpacked the truth: “See, we are going to Jerusalem…”
 
These words in and of themselves were not a problem for the disciples.  In fact, this much was EXPECTED of Jesus.  You see, the disciples – like most other Jews in Jesus day – EXPECTED their messiah to go to Jerusalem… TO TAKE THE CITY by SWORD!  The words “messiah” and the word “king” went hand-in-hand – one in the same.  A dead messiah was no messiah at all. And their messiah just said, my paraphrase; ‘I’m going to my death – hop in line behind me… it’s not going to be pretty.  Here we go!
 
Right here they didn’t get it, but ultimately Jesus’ revelation here is a game changer.  You see, the disciples thought that they were following a future-King – that’s why they were armed and ready for conflict – that’s why they fought over who was his “right hand man”, jockying for position – as far as they knew, they were campaigning. Jesus changed the game, but even so, the very next thing that James and John did was fight over who was 2nd in command!  However, when they experience what Jesus was speaking of: when their King was delivered over, was beaten, stripped, and hung on the cross, their first response was fear – they ran – they gave up. 
 
They returned to their old lives. 
 
It wasn’t until the resurrection that they realized that what they THOUGHT was the Big Picture was only a tiny fraction of the truth!
 
Have you ever found yourself on a path, to only discover that something – a truth that was withheld from you – and it was significant enough that it changed your course?
 
Jesus’ statement rattled the disciples.  When they walked the reality of Jesus’ statement, seeing his death with their own eyes, they abandoned all hope.  However, when they had the whole truth – when Jesus conquered death – when they finally understood what sort of King Jesus was – when they had the whole picture, they became fearless… unstoppable.
 
You see Jesus’ life wasn’t TAKEN from Him – HE LAID IT DOWN ON HIS OWN ACCORD!  The act of the cross was not a human invention that God used – it was in the mind of God BEFORE man ever sinned!  God CREATED US with the CROSS OF CHRIST in mind.  1 Peter 1:20 says “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake”… and Ephesians 1:4 says that God “chose us in Him” – in Jesus – “BEFORE THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD.”  Jesus wasn’t plan B – the cross wasn’t plan B – it wasn’t merely God’s “clean-up plan”… it was what all of history was leading up to.  The cross was God’s ultimate revelation of Himself – it was the God-glorifying act that made sense of the whole rest of the story up to that point.  Jesus said, according to John 10:18; “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord...”
 
When you are following a man who says that death is not to be feared, and then PROVES IT… that’s a game changer.  According to the popular stories of the day, all but one of those cowardly disciples died confessing “Jesus is Lord.
 
What is it that you are afraid of?  What insurmountable obstacle stands in your way?  What makes you want to retreat back to your old way, the safety and comforts of what you know? Man, those old ways could likely even be self-destructive – they may KILL YOU – and still there’s comfort to be found in what we know. Jesus calls us into what is UNKNOWN to us: right when we think we know the game, it seems like Jesus changes the rules. Like the disciples who thought that they were following a human king and discovered that they were following the suffering servant… it rattled their faith… they gave up, BUT in light of the resurrection they realized that HE IS BOTH!
 
God carries our sin – God carries our pain – God knows both intimately in Jesus.  He loves us intimately, and shows us by laying His own life down for us. And He is KING – he’s the ultimate king, holding even all of creation together by His command – even holding the keys of death & Hell.
 
What do you fear?  God cares.  He loves you so much that He’s willing to set his God-powers aside, wrap himself in human skin, & live His life like one of us, taking the worst of circumstances – the very worst life has to offer, FOR US – FOR YOU.  He cares.  And this same God – this same Jesus – kicked death in the teeth, and showed Himself the TRUE KING.  If even death can’t hold Him, who’s to stop Him?  If God loves you that much, and God is that incredible, what’s stopping you?
 
What’s the very worst that can happen?  Even those results ultimately rest in Jesus’ hands, & Jesus obviously cares enough to concern Himself with that outcome, if was willing to carry your pain & sin on the cross, & if He can defeat death, He can take on WHATEVER that you’re facing.
 
So, in the face of fear, do not forget the resurrection.  It’s the exclamation point at the end of God’s sentence.  It changes EVERYTHING.  Let us live like it does!
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