May 25

Text: Matthew 17:6-8

And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."  And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone. (NASB)

If a trusting friend sincerely asked you how human fear—as in human terror—is addressed in Christian theology, how would you respond?  Would you say human terror has no religious significance?  Would you say that being afraid has no significance unless one is talking about being afraid of God?  Would you present the fear of God as the same as any human fear, but fear of God as a good thing?

The first time human fear—as in terror—is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 3:7-10.  This fear was a consequence of the first rebellion against God.  (1) Their eyes were opened (for the first time they “saw” evil).  (2) They viewed themselves differently (they saw nakedness as a bad thing to be hidden).  (3) It changed their relationship with God (whereas they were talking friends with God, suddenly they are estranged from God).  (4) They were afraid because God was viewed as dangerous.

Note human terror occurred as the result of rebellion against God.  Human terror is a product of evil—there was no human terror until there was human rebellion against God.

When Peter, James, and John saw the transfigured Jesus, saw Moses and Elijah, and heard God’s voice, “they fell on their faces and were much afraid.”  They were terrified!  Matthew made it obvious this was not a good thing.

Please take note of two things.  (1) When unholiness is in the presence of genuine holiness, the reaction of unholiness is terror.  If you are a Christian, never forget we are sanctified before God because we are forgiven, not because we are not sinful.

(2) One objective of Jesus is to end our need to be in terror.  Jesus came to the three men, touched them, and verbally reassured them.  Jesus’ specific instruction: “Get up, and do not be afraid.”  Jesus’ presence made terror unnecessary.

Suggestion for reflection: Realize the closer we are to Jesus, the weaker terror is.  (Read 1 John 4:10-21.)

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