ENCOUNTERING JESUS IN OUR FEAR JOHN 20:19-23 Series: Encountering Jesus - Part Two Pastor Stephen Muncherian June 28, 2009
we’re coming back to the series we began at Lake Day -
back to our series focused on Encountering Jesus -
Jesus meeting us at our times of deepest need.On Lake Day
we looked at Jesus encountering us in our loss.This
morning we’re focused on encountering Jesus in our
This man is Paul Mukonyi.Paul Mukonyi had
been studying tourism in Lyon, France.While studying
in Lyon he came to believe that
he was being followed and spied on by a group of
people - mostly North African Arabs.Paul kept a
diary of his fears and on at least 3 occasions
reported his fears to the police in Lyon.The French
police did nothing since there was no proof that Paul
was being followed.
As his fears increased, Paul felt that he needed to
escape to Kenya.At the Lyon airport he contacted officials
before flying to London - telling them that he was
certain he was being followed.He also
told security personnel at London’s Gatwick airport
that he was being followed.In both cases, the police
reassured him that he would be okay and escorted Paul
onto his flight.
On the flight from London to Nairobi - somewhere over
the Sudan - Paul - suffering from acute paranoia and
feeling threatened by the passengers around him - Paul
burst into the cockpit of the British
Airways 747-400 - attacked the pilots - disengaged the
autopilot - causing the plane with 379
passengers to plummet 19,000 feet.Fortunately
the pilots were able to regain control and the plane
Paul’s doctors said that Paul wasn’t trying to harm
anyone - he was simply afraid. (1)
Most of us probably wouldn’t consider hijacking a 747.But, we all
have our fears.Things in life that can cause
us to be fearful - not
just the economy or airplanes being flown
children being kidnapped - the moral
degradation of our society - struggles in our homes - the unknown
of what will happen tomorrow.
How will we live and care for our families?We struggle
with time and schedules and wonder if we can keep up.Are we
adequate for all this?What if some debilitating illness comes?
Growing older - we fear loosing control - loosing our
minds - loosing control over our bodies - over our
- perhaps the greatest fear is death - the unknown of
what happens or doesn’t happen next.
We fear failure.We fear success.We fear change.We fear trusting God.
Please turn with me to John chapter 20 - starting at
look at what it means to encounter Jesus in our fear.
Verse 19:So when
it was evening on that day, the first day of the week,
and when the doors were shut where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their
midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Let’s pause there.
On the first
day of the week - the third day after Jesus was
crucified - probably about 5 or 5:30 in the morning -
the twilight of early morning - Mary Magdalene and a
group of other women arrive at the tomb where Jesus’
body had been placed two days earlier.Their
desire was to anoint Jesus’ body - a sign of their
love and devotion.
Mary Magdalene arrives first - sees the stone rolled
away - probably fears the worst - sees enough of the
situation to realize that Jesus’ body isn’t there.As the
other women arrive Mary runs off to find Peter and
Which begins a sequence of events that take place on
the day Jesus resurrected - the first day of the week.Peter and
John show up at the tomb - have no clue as to what’s
happened - return home speechless.Jesus
reveals Himself to Mary Magdalene - reassuring her in
her loss - what we looked at two Sunday’s ago.
Then Jesus spends time walking with two disciples on
the way to Emmaus - a village about 7 miles outside of
Jerusalem - Jesus explaining the Scriptures to them -
staying for dinner at their house.
Later these two men returned to Jerusalem - found the
disciples gathered together - reported that they’d
seen Jesus alive.But the disciples didn’t believe - didn’t
understand - struggled to come to grips with what they
were being told.
John picks up that sequence of events here in verse
disciples are huddled together in this room.
The word “fear” in Greek is “phobos” as in phobia.Like
“arachnophobia” - which is the? fear of spiders.Cyberphobia
- the fear of computers - anyone relate?Arachibutyrophobia
- the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of
“Phobos” has the idea of terror - dread - being seized
with fear - the heart stopping kind of fear that tears
us apart inside - drops us dead in our tracks - makes
us want to run in terror.
The disciples had narrowly escaped arrest in the
Garden of Gethsemane.Jesus - the One they’ve been following for 3
years - the leader of the group - has been brutally
His body is missing.They’re probably thinking about plots -
conspiracies - against them.
As disciples of a condemned well known agitator
they’re under suspicion - probably next on the list
for being arrested.They might have been trying to figure out a way
to get out of Jerusalem without being picked up by the
temple police or Roman authorities.
There they are - waiting to be arrested - the doors
are locked - they’re in fear “phobos” of the Jews.They’re
face-to-face with the unknown.There’s no
Can you relate to where these guys are at?Fear
touching us deep
in our hearts.The unknown.What do we do when the bottom
drops out?When we realize
just how little control we have over our lives.
In verse 19 - John records Jesus stepping into this
fear and offering the disciples His presence with
need to grab on to that reality.Jesus offers us His presence.Say that with
me, “Jesus offers us His presence.”Share that with
the person next to you, “Jesus
offers us His presence.”
Mrs. Monroe of Darlington, Maryland is mother of eight
afternoon she came home from the grocery store and
walked into her home.Everything looked pretty much the same, though
it was a bit quieter than usual.She looked
into the middle of the living room and five of her
darlings were sitting in a circle - exceedingly quiet
- doing something in the middle of the circle.She put
down the sacks of groceries and walked over closely
and saw that they were playing with five of the cutest
skunks you can imagine.
She was instantly terrified and yelled, “Run,
child grabbed a skunk and ran in five different
Monroe was beside herself and screamed louder.The
children - in fear - each one squeezed his skunk -
producing the obvious results. (2)
In the semi-controlled chaos of our lives we long for
that goes much deeper than just an absence of
that goes deeper than a few moments apart from
everything else we’re dealing with.Peace that
touches the deepest parts of who we are.That
becomes the inner strength and confidence we need to
get up each morning and do life.That quiets
the fear in our heart.
Jesus’ greeting, “Peace be with
standard for the day.“Shalom.”Coming from God - who is the source of peace -
that greeting is not just a trite, “How’s
In John 14:27 - Jesus is speaking to His disciples and
He says this:“Peace I leave with you; My peace
I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you
- My peace is different that the
temporary empty peace you find in the world - Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful.”
In September of 2000
- there was a severe outbreak of the
Ebola virus in Uganda.Ebola is a terrible way to die - a type of
viral hemorrhaging - bleeding.Its very
contagious - very lethal.Hardest hit in the outbreak
was the town of Gulu.Over 400
people contracted the disease.Over 170
In the town of Gulu, when the Ebola virus struck, one
of the first to recognize the disease and to begin
treating cases was this man - Dr.
Matthew Lokwiya.After weeks of treating patients - often taking
the worst cases and risking infection - after weeks of
spearheading the fight against the disease and being
credited for keeping the death toll remarkably low -
on November 30, 2000, Dr. Lokwiya
himself became a patient.On December 5th - Dr. Lokwiya
Isn’t that like Jesus?
Look where Jesus goes with His offer of peace - John
20 - verse 20:And when
He - Jesus
- had said this - “Peace
be with you” - He showed them both His hands and
disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.It is
Jesus was born without the disease of sin.Born into
humanity that faces certain death as a result of our
yet Jesus took on our sin - bore it on the cross -
died in our place.He
conquered over the worst of what we fear in this world
- the crud of this world - even death.
The Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:18:“There is no fear in love; but perfect love
casts out fear.”As Jesus
came and lives with us - the love of God is revealed
is not just all-powerful - but also all-loving.That love -
sending Jesus to the cross - should drive fear from
Remember last Sunday - in the Children’s message - we
talked about the account from Mark 4 - where Jesus has
been teaching all day and He decides to head out with
the disciples across the Sea of Galilee.There’s the
storm - the wind - the waves - the boat taking on
water - the disciples in fear - panicking.Familiar
account - right?
They wake Jesus up.He comes to the front of the boat.Tells the
wind and the sea to “Be still.”And they do.(Mark
Point being - Jesus - is God.He’s got
authority over the storm.The storm won’t last forever.The boat
will not sink.But
even if the boat sinks - Jesus has that covered.
So, where’s Jesus?In the boat - with the disciples - with us.To die on
the cross you got enter the world.Look at the
holes in His hands.Look at that gaping wound in His side.Whatever
the fear - Jesus has been there - is there - will be
there - with us.Presence.You’re not alone.
Share that with the person next to you, “You are
One day a man
went to his doctor with a terrible cold.After his
doctor examined him - the doctor said, “I want
you to go home and take a very hot bath.Then go to
the window, open it, and inhale as much cold air as
go to bed.In
a few days, come back and see me.”
The man complained, “But, doctor, if I follow
your instructions I’ll catch pneumonia and I could
said the doctor, “We can’t cure the common
cold, but we do have a cure for pneumonia.”Old joke.Bad joke.
The reality is too often we’re focused on curing the wrong disease.We’re
focused on the wrong issue.Hiding behind locked doors -
fearful of the Jews - the unknown of what may happen
stressing out over our circumstances.We’re focused on
our fear when we should be focused on Jesus.
Isaiah writes, “He - God - will
keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him,
whose thoughts turn often to the Lord.”(Isaiah 26:3)
is the birthright of every believer in Jesus Christ.We rob
ourselves of that birthright when we focus anywhere
else but on Jesus.
Peace comes from Jesus.God who is the source of peace - who walks with
us through life - who’s conquered over - has authority
over and is more powerful than - whatever we might
focus on Jesus is realize our inheritance - our
position - our relationship with the living God - His
presence with us - and to begin to learn to trust Him
in the midst of whatever we’re going through.
Let’s go on - verse 21:So Jesus said to them again,
“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also
when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to
them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.If you
forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven
them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been
Jesus again tells His disciples, “Peace
be with you.”Then this, “As the
Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
God - the Father - sends Jesus - the Son - into the
world to speak the Father’s words - to do the Father’s
work - to lay down His life for the salvation of men -
to declare the reality of what it means to live life
with the living God.In John 14:12 Jesus says that His disciples
will do even greater works than He did because He -
Jesus - is returning to the Father.
As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” is quite a
statement to a bunch of guys huddled in fear in a room
- waiting for the door to be busted down and to get
hauled off to their execution.
What Jesus offers us
try that together, “Jesus offers
us God’s power.”
On the day of Pentecost the disciples were all
together and there was a sound from heaven like a
violent rushing wind.The sound filling the room they were in.Maybe like
in the guy’s car next to you - with the woofers
bouncing the car off the ground.Loud
Then there was what?Little tongues like fires distributing
themselves on each of the disciples.
Acts 2:4 says that when that happened the disciples
were “filled with the Holy Spirit.”The filling of
the Spirit is often accompanied by all kinds of
manifestations - signs - demonstrations of God’s
presence and work - tongues as an example.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not
get drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit.”Wine
Holy Spirit should control us.That has to
do with how we do ministry - being effectively
controlled - directed by - the Spirit - doing what is
That’s not what’s happening here.We need to
understand that there’s a difference between being
filled by the Spirit and being indwelt by the Spirit.Here -
Jesus is breathing into the disciples the indwelling
Holy Spirit - the Person of the Holy Spirit coming
within them - not without - but dwelling within.
The prophet Zechariah is given a vision of two olive
trees that stand on either side of a golden lampstand.The oil
from these two olive trees continually drips into a
bowl that’s on top of the lampstand.The oil
dripping down onto the bowl supplies the lamp with
what it needs to keep burning.Zechariah
is told that the oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
Do you remember this verse?“Not by might
nor by power, but by My-what? Spirit,
says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)The vision
of the lampstand is where that verse comes from.The oil is
symbolic of the working and power of the Holy Spirit
to accomplish God’s purposes in and through His
In the New Testament we see the same role - in the New
Testament the Holy Spirit is given to indwell us - to
live within us - to empower and guide and supply to us
everything we need to do the ministry that God calls
us to do.To
live life with the living God.(John
14:16,17; Ephesians 3:16)
Verse 23 is a little weird - if we read it wrong.We have to
see this in the context of the Holy Spirit indwelling
God doesn’t forgive sins because we decide that
someone’s sins should be forgiven.God doesn’t
send people to Hell because we tell them to go there.Jesus’
point is that His disciples - by the guiding of the
indwelling Holy Spirit - the disciples are able to
know and declare what is sin.The
disciples are able to declare God’s forgiveness.That’s a
ministry thing.That’s living out the life that God calls His
people to live.
The prophet Isaiah writes - Isaiah 52:7:“How
lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings
good news, who announces peace and brings good news of
happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion,
‘Your God reigns!’”
Isaiah 52:7 is quoted elsewhere in Scripture.It’s a
verse that speaks of deliverance - an announcement of
a great victory - the coming of peace.
In the New Testament these words are applied to Jesus
and His disciples - us - the bringers of God’s good
this to someone next to you, “You
have lovely feet.”
People make wrong choices.Anyone here not have done
something that you regret?People - especially in the world
around us - people live with feelings of guilt and
failure and shame.Deep down - admit it or not - longing for some
way of coming to peace with all that.
To be able to lovingly say to someone “This is
the bottom line issue.This is what you’re struggling with.Its sin.And here’s
where the sin is.”That’s
Forgiveness is huge.To be able to say to someone, “Here’s
how to deal with that sin.You need Jesus.Because God
- for those who are trusting Jesus as their savior -
God forgives your sin.In Christ you are no longer condemned.God offers
you His healing and peace.”That’s what lovely feet do.They deal
with real issues - in real time - with God’s real
That’s what Jesus is commissioning His disciples - us
- to do.This
incredible privilege of continuing His work -
declaring the victory and salvation of God.Of living
out what it means to live life with the living God in
a way that God will use to declare that reality - the
awesomeness of that restored relationship - to a world
desperate to know His peace.
How did that go?What happened to those disciples?Martyred -
of them except for John - who was tortured and exiled.Deaths that
- huddled in the upper room - on the first day of the
week - deaths that the disciples feared.But later
faced with boldness and confidence - living out their
relationship with Jesus - testifying of Him - lovely
feet upon the mountains.
The power for that - the One who enables us to live
life according to God’s great purposes for our lives -
the power comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit.
and confidence - not fear - boldness and confidenceare the
birthright of every believer in Jesus Christ.We rob
ourselves of that when we focus on what we fear -
rather than relying on the power of God within.
Whatever the circumstances we might find ourselves in
- fear provoking though they may be - God’s empowering
us to live life does not change.The Spirit
remains dwelling within.
Let me put this practically.
Many many years ago - back while I was living in L.A.
I went through an time where for the most part the
thought of leaving my apartment made me nauseas.The stress
of thinking about going anywhere effected me
fear was so great that it literally made me sick.I could get
you get the idea.
My apartment - for the most part - felt safe to me.Everything
outside was a dangerous - uncertain - frightening
place to be.A
huge unknown where anything could happen.I could
loose control - physically - mentally - emotionally.And then
what would happen to me?I was alone.
It was all I could do - emotionally - mentally - to
pull myself together to make it to work - to get there
and hide in my office.Then someone would say, “Let’s
go to lunch.”Going to a
restaurant was terrifying.So many people.So many
possibilities for disaster.
I would be sitting at a table in a restaurant and I’d
have a panic attack.Overwhelming stress.I thought I was going to throw
up - pass out - have a heart attack.
Can any of you relate to this?Fear locks
physical doors - or doors in our minds.
What was the bottom line of healing was remembering
that I wasn’t alone - that Jesus was with me - His
He had it all under control - even death.That the
power and ability to live life didn’t come from me -
it comes from God.
I would say to myself - over and over again - as I
went out into the world - learning to trust God:“God is
has it all under control.Trust Him.”Days - weeks -
months - years - of repeating those truths - until
they began to sink into my heart.
I don’t know what fears you live with.God does.Faith is the
answer to fear.Realize
that Jesus is with you and that God will supply
everything you need to do life.Learn
to trust Him and you will know His peace.
1. San Francisco Chronicle 01.02.01, A9
2. John Haggai, How To Win Over Worry - quoted
in Charles Swindol, Ultimate Book of Illustrations
3. San Francisco Chronicle, 12.06.00