When I was a child, my father was an avid sailor. Once, when I was about eight, we went on holidays. It was to a place where we could have rented a sailboat. Unfortunately, the weather was so bad, we couldn’t. The next weekend, my father bought a small sailboat.
I will never forget my first time in that boat on Sebago Lake. We left the protection of the cove to find waves as big as the boat. Pounding into the waves, up, then, down— I thought we were dead for sure. Bear in mind, this is from the perspective of an eight year old. Still, I remember my fear, even today.
Fear not. This is a phrase used across the Bible, as words of assurance. In our Gospel text from Luke, Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid. He calls them, as a term of endearment, little flock. He assures them that they do not need to be afraid, because the Father (God) will give them the Kingdom. Jesus spoke these words as he and his disciples were making their way to Jerusalem, where Jesus faced death on the cross. Could Jesus have been remembering words from the prophet Isaiah? “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (41:10). We cannot say, of course, but who knows?
What I do know, is that Jesus offered comfort to the disciples and to us. This was not a simple platitude, but a reminder that in all things, God is with us. God is with us when we are afraid. God is with us in the most terrible of circumstances. These are words of assurance. Fear not.
Yours in Christ,