I struggle with fear.
If I’m honest, I’m afraid of what you’ll think of me when you read that!
In addition, sometimes, I fear I’m ineffective in my job. Sometimes I fear people being angry with me. Other times, I fear for my financial stability.
I would guess that many, if not most, of us struggle with fear in one area or another. Here’s the good news—right fear extinguishes wrong fear. In Luke 12, Jesus commands two things in relation to fear—to fear God and to fear not. To understand this, we’ll look at three things in Luke 12: context, right fear, and the end of fear.
The Context of Being Afraid
To understand the context of Luke 12, we need to understand what took place before that. In Luke 9:22 Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” After Jesus said this he “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).
There’s a little word there with a big meaning: must. It means ‘it was necessary.’ Its use indicates God’s plan was for the Son to be rejected and killed before being raised. Understanding this plan, Jesus set out for Jerusalem.
On the way, conflict swirled around him. People rejected Jesus, tried to trap him into accusing himself, and accused him of having a demon. In response, Jesus condemned cities and individuals for their rejection of him and for their self-righteousness.
People wanted to kill Jesus because of what he said about himself and his standard of righteousness.
Jesus had his disciples follow him, literally. They were publicly identified with him. Jesus also had his disciples proclaim him and get rejected.
That’s the context of Jesus’s preaching on fear in Luke 12. But before we move on, think about this: do you live like a disciple? That is, do you live to publicly make Jesus known?
If you are a Christian, in some sense you do, even though it’s partial and imperfect.
There is good news here. God has given us a purpose. We are to tell the world about the Messiah. And living with this purpose in mind makes lesser fears feel a lot less significant.
In Luke 12:4-5 Jesus says,
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
Jesus says people can harm us. They can lie about us, damage our reputations, take away our jobs, betray us, and even murder us. Jesus adds in Luke 12:22 that other things can affect our lives and bodies as well. Poverty can cripple us. Disease can cause unbearable pain and even kill us.
These things are all terrible. And they’re all possible. But Jesus tells us not to be afraid of them. Instead, he says, fear the God who has the right, power, and authority to throw us into hell.
He has the right because he is God and we are not. We have fallen short of his perfect standards and betrayed him. It would be right for God to cast us into hell.
If you hate your sin, you can turn to and fear God. That is right fear. And that fear drives away other fears.
Fear God and you won’t be afraid of anything else.
The End of Fear
Jesus does not leave his people in fear of hell. In Luke 12:6-7 he says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Jesus commands that we fear God, the Judge who sees all of our sins. And he tells us not to fear, because he values us. He loves us. He says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:28).
Remember, Jesus was on his way to preach, get killed, and rise again. He planned to give eternal life to all those who followed him.
If you follow Jesus, then fear not because God loves you. God loves you. He who sees that you have intentionally disobeyed him loves you. Although you’ve not loved him, he loves you.
Because of that love, he makes you his child and he is pleased to give you his kingdom. He experiences happiness in giving you his home. God rejoices that your eyes will light up when you see the glories to come.
Follower of Jesus, one day you will see the fullness of God in the face of Christ. Every pain and sadness will melt away, and you will be completely, irreversibly happy. That is sure. It’s the result of Jesus’s death and resurrection. It’s the result of God granting you his kingdom.
That’s the end of fear.
Responding When You’re Afraid
So, remember what Jesus has done for his disciples. Remember what God has the right to do. Remember what God loves to do.
To sum it all up–remember that right fear extinguishes wrong. So, friends, fear God and fear not.
Here are a few things you can do in response:
- Consider your own specific sins and how vile they are before God. Confess them to him.
- Think about God’s joy in you displayed in Christ’s death for you. Thank him for his sacrifice that has freed you from fearing the things of this world.
- Memorize one of the verses cited in this article to help renew your mind.