Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

The Different Fears

The Different Fears

As with most chapters of the Gospel of Mark, chapters four and five are packed with Jesus’ teachings and actions. In these particular chapters we will find various parables, including the well known Parable of the Sower. Near the end of chapter four Jesus will calm the storm and then in the first part of chapter five Jesus will venture over to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and will encounter two demon-possessed men. The demons will be cast out in a nearby herd of swine feeding on the hillside and when the demons enter the swine the entire herd will rush down the hillside and plunge themselves into the Sea. In these two chapters we also find various fears or kinds of fears mentioned.

Common Fears

“But the worries of the world… enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).

I decided to call the “worries of the world” as common fears, that is, things that we are tempted to worry about and allow to control our lives when we are not focused on God. Such fears include worries connected with the desire to be popular, finances, our heath and many other concerns.

The Fear of Death

“Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’” (Mark 4:38). 

At least four of these men in the boat on this occasion were professional fishermen (Luke 5:10), therefore, the disciples are not overreacting when it comes to the severity of the storm. It was indeed a serious storm and they really believed that their lives were in danger. There is nothing necessary wrong with a healthy respect for things that can endanger our lives. Yet the fear of death, disease and the other things that can harm us physically needs to be kept in the proper perspective. Jesus Himself reminded His disciples that there is something to fear far more than what can happen to them physically:

  • “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that they have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yet, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).
  • We can make the same mistake that the disciples made on this occasion. In our minds something that seems to threaten our physical health or existence can seem to be much bigger in our minds than the God who rules the world. The disciples forgot that Jesus was the Son of God and was sent here on a mission, obviously, the Father would not allow him to perish in a storm.

“Who is This”

“And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still’. And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’  They became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” (Mark 4:39-41).

The disciples realized that they were in the presence of someone more than just a prophet. They were in the presence of someone who could, with a simple statement, and instantly control the weather! This is a fear that can lead to salvation if the person asking the question is willing to feel the discomfort of the moment, stay instead of run and find the answer. All of a sudden fear of the storm was forgotten and now they were afraid of the person who had just calmed the storm.

The Fear of Hell

“Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me’” (Mark 4:6-7). In other passages the demons equally cry out:

  • “They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss” (Luke 8:31).

We live in a world where many people no longer believe in hell or a hell that involves eternal suffering as Jesus plainly taught without any apology (Mark 9:43; Matthew 24:46). Yet the demons clearly knew that such a place did exist and they were headed for it. 

  • The demons do not manifest any repentance, and there is no crying out for spiritual deliverance. There is no, “Help me with my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Rather, like too many people today they simply want extra time now, “Have You come to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). They knew that eternal misery would be their fate, they knew that Satan could not protect them from God’s justice, for they do not call out to him for help, and he does not intervene or even show up. There isn’t even a hint that they would want to change, they simply want just some more time here in this life.
  • It is one thing to say, “I just don’t know how to change but I am willing to listen”. It is another thing to say, “I am not interested in change, and I refuse to change” (Revelation 2:20). Like these demons, too many people have the attitude, “Even though I am miserable, I would rather continue to live such a difficult and hard existence than admit my need for God”.
  • We need to learn this much from the demons: They know that God exists (James 2:19), that Jesus is the Son of God, that He has the power to judge, and that one day He will judge.

The Fear of God’s Powerful Mercy

“Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. And they began to implore Him to leave their region” (Mark 4:14-18).

  • Observe that the people in the city were told by eyewitnesses of the event concerning how this man had been cured. It just didn’t happen by accident, or that the demons had just decided to leave of their own accord. Rather, it was Jesus who had cast out the demons and healed the man.
  • Yet instead of bringing their sick to Jesus and or asking Him to teach them about God’s truth and cure what was amiss in their own lives, they asked Jesus to leave.
  • Sometimes when people dramatically change for the better the people around them are not motivated to change as well, rather they fear the change for the better that they have witnessed. They are afraid that if they are not careful the same drastic change might happen to them and they don’t want to change.
  • If you had lived in this area it could have been tempting to say on this occasion, “I am glad that man is better, but I don’t need any help in my life. I am not demon-possessed and I have not been running around naked and bothering people”. In a similar way people might say, “I don’t have a problem with that friend becoming a Christian and I hope it works out for them, after all, he has some really big problems, his life is a mess, he is a great sinner but I am not like that”.
  • Note that when Jesus was asked to leave, that He left (Mark 5:20). Jesus will not force Himself upon us (Revelation 3:20). He will not change us against our will. If we say, “Not interested”, He will move on to others who are interested (Mark 5:20). Will we invite Him to stay or leave?

Mark Dunagan |
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017