Do not be afraid

It happened just about every time God revealed himself.   John had a vision of the risen Jesus, and it made him faint with terror (Revelation 1:17).   Isaiah had a vision of the majesty of God, and he cried out, “Woe is me, I am doomed!” (Isaiah 6:5).   Ezekiel saw God coming in the clouds, surrounded by rings of fire, and he fell on his face in awe (Ezekiel 1:28).

Even more “ordinary” revelations of God’s holiness had a similar effect. Peter fell to his knees and cried out, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man,” after Jesus miraculously filled his nets with fish (Luke 5:8).

These may be dramatic scenes, but what happened next is even more dramatic.   Jesus told John, “Do not be afraid,” and then proceeded to give him messages for the churches (Revelation 1:17).   Isaiah had his sins purged, and God called him to be a prophet (Isaiah 6:8).   Seeing Ezekiel facedown on the ground, God told him to stand up; he just wanted to talk with him (Ezekiel 2:1).   And Jesus told Peter, “Do not be afraid,” and then called him to become a disciple (Luke 5:10).

Do you see the pattern?   In each story, God made it clear that the person’s past sins and mere mortality didn’t pose obstacles to him.   He was more focused on the work he had for them to do.

This is what divine mercy looked like in biblical times, and it’s what it looks like today.   It’s God forgiving our every sin, cleansing our consciences, and easing our fears.   It’s also God looking with sadness on a darkened, sinful world and sending us out as his ambassadors.

Do not be afraid. Jesus says these words to you today.   Don’t be afraid of God. He loves you and he forgives you.   And don’t be afraid to share that mercy with the people around you.   Forgive them just as you have been forgiven.   Let them see in you the merciful face of God.

Word Among Us

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