As we begin to think about Palm Sunday, we see a couple of examples of the wrong kind of fear in the passages about Jesus coming to Jerusalem. We have been talking about the fear of the Lord as a good fear, the kind that is to be taught to young and old from generation to generation. Today we are going to look at a fear that would involve loosing a position of status. The church today has many men and women in authority that should not be, as they do not fear the Lord because they follow their own ways. It is amazing how many Christians follow these leaders even though they do not speak for God, as they should. That simply means their words do not resemble the word of God nor does what they have manufactured look like scripture. They like the authority and the status of their positions too much to give them up to be a true servant of Jesus Christ. They say what they do is for the glory of God but the truth, is they like the prestige. Many have their faces plastered all over books etc. and there is much to gain from selling their wares even though Paul said in 2 Corinthians 17:7 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
In the first case we see that the leaders feared Jesus but not in a good way. Mark 11:15 “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers. 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” First of all would this look any different if Jesus did the same thing today? Notice that the leaders feared him because they saw his teaching amazed the crowd. Not only did they fear what he would do to their status, they actually wanted to kill him. How dare you overturn what we are doing? How many of God’s true servants have been shut down because these prestige hungry men and women feared the truth. They said we have to do something to keep our positions and many will try to kill God’s servants by gossip and slander.
Another type of unhealthy fear is a fear of what others think because it might affect your position. This is found in John 12:42 “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” This also applies to the first example. This is about the furthest thing from fearing God. True fear means we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and carry our crosses no matter what the cost is. You must decide if you will follow the whole way or quite at the first sign of opposition. Trust me there will be opposition to the truth. Luke 14:25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” John 6:60 “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them. 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
To be a true disciple of Christ we cannot fear a loss of position or status and we do not fear what others think. Following Jesus means we are only concerned with what God thinks. 2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” If you cannot stand for Jesus because you are worried about what people think, then you definitely cannot carry your cross. If you are more worried about loosing your position because the truths of God’s word will change everything you definitely are not carrying your cross. We should always be a humble people. To truly fear God means as St Patrick said, “I am ready and willing to give up my own life, without hesitation, for His name” Are you?