Rev. James NS Kollie-Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Cotton Tree, Liberia
“When the disciples saw Him (Jesus) walking on the sea, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid’” (Matthew 14:26, 27).
Someone once said: “There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”
As the wind and waves tossed the disciples’ boat, fear began to fill their hearts. In the early morning they spotted a shadowy figure coming toward them. It looked like a man, but a man can’t walk on water.
Exhausted, wet, and windblown these experienced fishermen became terrified as they cried out: “It’s a ghost.” They didn’t recognize Jesus. They didn’t yet understand His power and love.
We’re all in the same boat. How often haven’t we failed to recognize Jesus coming to help us? We feel something bad that has happened to us has come from some sinister source. Under the strain of the moment we yell out in dread and dismay. In our fear we fail to
recognize Jesus’ loving hand in all that comes to us.
Yet, Jesus is there. He brings words of comfort and strength with Him. Listen: “Have courage!” What a relief for the disciples to hear a familiar voice. Jesus’ Word is all powerful. He speaks – and it is so. Whenever Jesus told people not to fear but have courage, the results were quick in coming: “Your sins are forgiven.” “Pick up your mat and walk.” “Your faith has made you well.” “I am with you.” Listen to Him and believe.
“It is I.” Who is this “I”? Let Him speak for Himself: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47). “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Listen to Him – and believe.
“Do not be afraid.” To Joshua, about to attack walled cities with an army of shepherds – to a band of fearful witnesses of His resurrection – to a Paul wondering if he would ever get out of Jerusalem alive to continue the Lord’s work – to you and to me – the word is the same: “Do not be afraid.” Listen to Him – and believe.
“How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?”
“Fear not! I am with you, O be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.”