Acts 19:17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
Sometimes when I read the New Testament, I wonder why the word ‘fear’ is ever associated with Jesus. Like most people, I tend to see Jesus as loving and non-judgmental, a person who could find the good in anyone; a prophet who attracted people to God; and a teacher who showed the world how to live. I understand how honoring and worshipping Jesus for those positive qualities has endeared me to Christ, but what about this fear that the New Testament writers express? What has fear got to do with Jesus?
‘Fear’ in this context goes beyond being afraid. It really means to completely respect Christ for who He actually is: the Holy Son of God. ‘Fear’ then describes the awe and reverence that we should feel when we think about, worship, and honor Jesus. It also means that we actively submit to His power and teaching, His authority and realm. We are not equal to Christ, although He does restore us as sons and daughters of God. He is the Chosen One, the Eternal Crown Prince, the True Heir to God’s Kingdom. Throughout our days on Earth and in Eternity, He will always be our Master, Lord, Ruler, and King. We will always be His servants in the Everlasting Realm, if we choose to repent and follow Him on Earth.
So when we read about ‘fear’ being associated with Christ in the New Testament, it’s a healthy fear – a total respect for who Jesus is and a complete submission to His power.
Questions for personal reflection
How do I express and display my loyalty to Christ? Do I understand that I am called to serve Him and not the other way around?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant us a healthy fear of Who You are so that our lives may be challenged and changed by Your words and ways. Give us opportunities to positively serve You so that others may be attracted to Your majesty and power, as well as Your love and grace. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask a question about today’s passage, please send him an email to email@example.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Mackintosh style drawings. It’s called “Butterfly on Thistle.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: