Word of the Month

It is I! Do not be afraid!

April 2014

Scripture relates that, in the night following the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples were alone in their boat in the middle of the sea. Jesus had commanded them to cross over to the other shore. He Himself then went up into a mountain in order to pray. The boat was already far out on the open sea when a storm broke out. A strong headwind and waves whipped the boat with increasing force. Suddenly the disciples saw something moving toward them in the darkness. “In the fourth watch of the night” Jesus came toward them over the sea. One can easily imagine how terrified the disciples were. They believed that what they were seeing was a ghost. But then they heard the voice of their Lord, who said: “It is I; do not be afraid!"

The gospels relate a similar event in connection with the events of Easter. After their Lord and Master had died on the cross and had been buried, the disciples withdrew in fear and uncertainty. For fear of the Jews they had even barred the doors of the house where they had gathered. How astonished and frightened they must have been when the Risen One suddenly stepped into their midst! They thought they were looking at a ghost! But He addressed them saying: “Why are you troubled? … it is I Myself …” Then He ate with them and spoke to them. And eventually they comprehended: “It is He! The Lord is risen indeed! He lives!”

“It is I! Do not be afraid!” That is the message of Easter: the Lord lives. He is there. He is with you. You no longer have anything to fear!

It is simply part of life when we at times find ourselves in situations when we feel all alone, when we too—like the disciples in the boat—find ourselves battling headwinds and ask: “Dear God, where are You? Have You forgotten me?” At such times, it is dark all around us—in spiritual terms—and we too are tossed about like a little boat in a stormy sea. We cannot help that doubts arise in such circumstances. We may even ask ourselves: “What is the point of it all? Are not all our efforts in vain anyway?” The Lord will not condemn us for this.

For example, those who endeavour to live in accord-ance with the gospel today will often find a sharp wind blowing against their faces. They will find themselves exposed to the hostilities of the world and a lack of understanding in their surroundings. 

At times we do not understand what is happening to us. Uncertainty and fear creep into our hearts. Perhaps we are living through a period of trial and have no idea why this is happening. At such times we ask ourselves: “How is this supposed to be good? I do not understand any of it. Have I perhaps done something wrong?”

But then the Lord suddenly steps into our lives—perhaps in a way we had not expected—and tells us: “It is I! Do not be afraid! I have overcome the world. I have overcome death! I have resurrected! Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away!

Listen to My word and heed it! I am with you and I will help you!”

Easter tells us that Jesus lives! He is more powerful than all the powers of hell, death, and the Devil! He has conquered them all. Do not be afraid! How wonderful it will be at His return when He appears and calls out to us: “It is I! Do not be afraid!” Then we will suddenly arrive at our goal—just like the disciples at the time, of whom it says: “Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.”                          

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)