At some point in your Christian life in order to please God you are going to have to “go public” or “come clean” about your faith. In a recent journey through the gospel according to John I found four occurrences of the “fear of the Jews” limiting what God’s people would do for Christ. Of course, we know the feelings the Jews and their religious hierarchy had for the Lord Jesus Christ. On many occasions they sought for His life and would have taken it were it “open season,” but our Lord clearly taught us that no man could take away His life; His life was a gift, and He would lay it down freely.
Consider the following stories and the outcome of their fear:
- John 9:21-22 says, But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
- John 20:19 says, Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
- John 19:38 says, And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
- The Bible says in John 7:13, Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.
There is little doubt that the Jews were fiercely opposed to Christ and the claims of His ministry, but what about those who would openly confess Him? Was He not worthy of such public identification?
True, it must have been such fear that influenced the Apostle Peter in his thrice-denial of Christ before our Lord’s crucifixion, but Peter some fifty days later had shrugged off the smog of such spiritual apathy and publicly identified with Christ. In other words, whose fear leads us or governs our identification with Christ?
The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25, The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Again, God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). It is the fear of the Lord that is greater than all our fears.
When I was a teenager, God was at work in my life preparing me for ministry. I remember sitting in church and wanting to show the pastor a token of my agreement with what he was preaching, and as soon as the letters A-M-E-N could proceed from my mouth I had to make sure my friends were not watching. The unspoken “approval” of my friends meant more to me than the approval of my Saviour. I am glad the Lord showed me the snare I was in and delivered me! Now, I might say “amen” at the drop of a hat…and drop the hat myself!
Let us move out from under the yoke of others and happily accept the reproach of Christ! Let us hear Him say someday, Well done, thou good and faithful servant!