Jesus Has the Power

A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
(Luke 8:32–37)

The crowds were seized with fear. Instead of rejoicing over the triumph of evil, these people chose to remain paralyzed by their fear to the point of expelling from their premises their only hope for salvation. Fear.

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. –Psalm 31:14–15

The Oxford Dictionary defines this word as “unpleasant emotion; a state of alarm; a dread or fearful respect; anxiety for the safety of; danger or likelihood of something unwelcomed; uneasy expectation; and apprehensive about.” Fear can paralyze us. However, fear is the opposite emotion of what we have in Jesus: confidence and courage. Paul tells us:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 )

For each one of us, we have a choice between trusting in Christ in the midst of our circumstances and worrying over them. This does not mean that we sit around doing nothing as we wait for God to act. Confidence and courage result when we engage in the things Jesus calls us to. Paul tells us:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23–24)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
–Proverbs 1:7

I love this quote from Frederick Buechner because it gives credence to our passage for today as to why the crowds were so fearful:

“‘Thy will be done’ is what we’re saying … We are asking God to be God. We are asking God to do not only what we want but what God wants. We are asking to make manifest the holiness that is now mostly hidden, to set free in all its terrible splendor the devastating power that is now mostly under restraint … ‘Thy kingdom come …. on earth’ is what we are saying. And if that were suddenly to happen, what then? What would stand and what would fall? …. To speak these words is to invite the tiger out of the cage … You need to be bold in another way to speak the other half. Give us. Forgive us. Don’t test us. Deliver us. If it takes guts to face the omnipotence that is God’s, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that is ours. We can do nothing without God. Without God we are nothing. It is only the words ‘Our Father’ which make the prayer bearable. If God is indeed something like a father, then as something like children maybe we can risk approaching.”

I believe that one of the reasons we experience so much fear in our society today is because we have lost the fear of God. This fear is the only fear commanded in Scripture: we are to fear God and God alone. We make a big mistake when we put God on our level. Think about it for a moment, what would it actually be like to be in the presence of God? We need have no fear of life if we have the fear of God.

We must remember that God is approachable only through Christ’s work on the cross. Without that, we are all as dead men! I am reminded of Hebrews 12 describing Moses’ reaction to God’s holiness on Mount Sinai:

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” (Hebrews 12:18–21)

As believers in Jesus we have access to God in all of His splendor and power and awesomeness and holiness. We can approach His throne only on the merits of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins. The blood He shed took away our sins and has allowed us to be ushered back into the holy presence of the great “I AM.”

Take It to Heart

We experience Jesus’ power to dispel our fear because of God’s greatness. Trust in God’s plan for you and His power to accomplish that plan. He is watching over you!

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