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Overcoming a Spirit of Fearcomment (0)

March 20, 2014

By Bob Terry

Overcoming a Spirit of Fear

Have you ever wanted to speak up for Jesus in some public setting but ended up coerced into silence by a spirit of fear? It is not a unique experience. It happened to people around Jesus and it happens to people today. 

All four of the New Testament Gospels tell the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem to the accolades of the crowd. The incident is usually called the “Triumphal Entry,” a term associated with the honors bestowed on a conquering hero returning from battle.

In Jesus’ case, His entry was before the battle. In fact, the entry set the stage for the battle that followed. It was as if Jesus was goading the Jewish leaders in their own stronghold with His version of a “Triumphal Entry.”

John 11:45–57 tells about the Jewish leaders plotting to kill Jesus. The passage says orders were given to find this Galilean so He could be arrested. We even read that Jesus could no longer move freely among the Jews (v. 54) meaning He knew about the dangers and so did the others in Jerusalem. 

Yet in open defiance of these entrenched leaders, Jesus set the stage for confrontation. He arranged for a donkey and her colt to be brought to Him. Coats were laid across the colt and Jesus started riding down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem on a donkey. It was exactly as the prophet Zechariah had declared, “See your King comes to you righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9).  

Jesus would not enter Jerusalem as a criminal in chains. He would enter as the King of Peace, the One who breaks the bow of war and proclaims peace to the nations. 

The symbolism was not lost on the throng of people, estimated at more than 2 million, who had crowded into the Holy City for Passover. They knew of Jesus and His mighty works. It was even said He raised the dead, most recently a man named Lazarus in nearby Bethany. Jesus’ teachings left others speechless. Even the temple guards were captivated by what He said. 

The most-asked questions were whether this Jesus was the longed-for Messiah and if He dared show Himself in Jerusalem during Passover. 

Suddenly there He was, winding His way down the Mount of Olives on a curvy path seated on a donkey. The reaction was electric. People rushed to Him like He was a modern-day rock star. They began shouting “Hosanna,” which means “save now.” They called Jesus the “Son of David” and “He that comes in the name of the Lord,” both obvious messianic references. The cry “Hosanna in the highest” was a cry for the Highest to “save now.” 

The spectacle must have been something to behold. Instead of carpets on which conquering heroes rode their mighty steeds, people laid their coats in front of the plodding donkey. Then they cut palm branches and laced the path with their green leaves. 

The crescendo of the noise resonated off the Mount of Olives across Mount Moriah where the temple stood and echoed back from Mount Zion. The crowd seemed poised to proclaim Jesus as their king and Messiah right there.

Then Scripture offers a glimpse of the slightest change in the crowd’s testimony once confronted by Jerusalem’s rulers.

“Who is this?” asked the leaders of the city and the crowd responded, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matt. 21:11). 

What the crowd said to the Jewish leaders was true but it was not enough. Jesus or Joshua, the same Hebrew word, was a common name shared by many in the crowd. Prophet — many claimed to be a prophet and some were even false prophets. From Nazareth — but Scripture records in John 1:46 the scornful question, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” In Galilee — but society knew that “a prophet does not come out of Galilee” (John 7:52). 

In the presence of city rulers there was nothing about King or Son of David or the One who comes in the name of the Lord. There were no pleas for God to “save now” or acknowledgments of the coming kingdom of our father David.

In a moment of crisis and opportunity, the spirit of fear toned down the crowd’s witness concerning Jesus. How like us. In the workplace or a social setting or even among family, the spirit of fear causes us to weaken our witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ in our lives and the importance of the teachings of the Holy Bible to our lives. 

If a job description for the spirit of fear existed it would say the function of the spirit of fear is to intimidate Christians so the work of Christ in them and through them will cease. That is why Proverbs 29:25 calls the spirit of fear a “snare.” 

The apostle Paul goes further. He wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind.” Christians do not have to fear the power of man. Rather we have a holy fear of God Himself. Because of faith in God, we overcome the spirit of fear and live in God’s power and God’s love. 

Today some seem bent on forcing Christians to keep personal faith in God confined to their private devotional lives and their commitment to the ethical teachings of God’s Word within the walls of a church building. To succumb to such pressures would be like the Palm Sunday crowd toning down their witness to Jesus from Messiah to prophet.

The “spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind,” which God provides to believers, demands that we share the love of God in the public square as well as in our private lives. We cannot tone down our witness to God or to His Word. We cannot live with a spirit of fear. 

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