Day 43 - Fear No More

Day 43 - Fear No More

Written by: Joy Hardin

Matthew 28:11-15, NLT
11 As the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. 12 A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. 13 They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ 14 If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” 15 So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.

After this amazing event in which an angel appeared and the tomb was found empty, why did the Roman soldiers go to the Jewish chief priests instead of the one they should have reported to, the provincial governor, Pontius Pilate? From historical records we know that the punishment for failing their charge could have been death. These men had seen and participated in the Roman capital punishment and certainly didn’t want to experience it. From earlier in Matthew 28, we know these same soldiers shook with fear and fell into a dead faint when they saw the empty tomb and heard the angel say that Jesus had risen from the dead. Fear brought the soldiers to the Jewish religious leaders probably in hope of a way out of their own deaths.

We know from other passages that some of the Romans soldiers who saw Jesus die came to believe that He “was the Son of God,” and Luke said that one of the soldiers worshiped him. (See Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39, and Luke 23:47.) But this was the night watch and as such, they were probably bored at the uselessness of guarding a dead man. When the angel appeared announcing that Jesus had risen and the body was indeed gone, fear took over their actions.
From the time God first revealed Himself, faith versus fear has been a decision before us. “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:6 & Romans 4:3, NLT).

Most of us can remember a time when we were afraid of getting in trouble and told a lie. Maybe it was when we were in school and said we didn’t cheat on a test, or we told a police officer that we were not speeding. Sometimes our lies have gotten us out of immediate trouble, but there are always consequences. What if the soldiers had chosen to tell the truth? It’s likely they would have been executed, but 2000 years later, where are they anyway? After seeing such a wondrous thing, it seems incredible that the soldiers would tell this useless lie, regardless of the consequences. Sadly, if they never repented and believed in Jesus, what they face for eternity is much worse than all the punishment they would have endured from the Romans. “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28, NLT).

We have a neighbor who collects things. His shop is full of all kinds of treasures and our 5 year old grandson, Jonah, just loves visiting and plundering through them. One of Jonah’s favorite treasures comes with a fun activity. Our neighbor has a couple of old tennis racquets, and he and Jonah will spend afternoons together swinging the tennis racquets at bees as they buzz by. As far as controlling the bee population, this is an almost useless task. But every now and then, one of them will actually hit a bee and send it tumbling to the ground. While Jonah and our dear neighbor do occasionally swat a pest, the Roman soldiers hit a complete zero. Choosing to accept a bribe and perpetuate a lie, these guards knew the truth—Jesus had disappeared from the tomb! His body was not stolen. He had defeated death and risen to life!

Today as we celebrate the empty tomb, we are free to release our fears and look through the eyes of Jesus at eternity. We have life today with Him and an eternal future in His Presence! “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6, ESV).  

Make a list of your three (or more) biggest fears. Take time to pray over each of these and ask God how you can trust Him in each situation. Finally, see these fears as reduced and eliminated in the Presence of Jesus.

Father, You are greater than all my fears. You already have an answer and You already conquered our biggest fear – death itself. Help me not to allow my fears to control my mind or my actions. Help me to see that in You I have nothing to fear!