Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions


“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 3, 2022. Photo by The Kaleidoscope on Pixabay.

“They feared the people” (Luke 22:2).

Why did the chief priests and teachers of the law fear the people?

Jesus was popular. When he entered a town, throngs gathered to be healed. When he set out in a boat, they ran ahead to meet him when he stepped ashore. When he taught in the temple, people hung on his words. When he rode into Jerusalem, the crowds hailed him as their next king.

They couldn’t compete. Jesus had them in the palm of his hand. If they didn’t stop him, everyone would follow him, the Romans would step in, and they would lose everything (John 11:48).

Do we know what it’s like to “fear the people?” Do we ever. If they knew what I thought, they’d never talk to me again. If they knew what I did, they’d kick me out. If they knew how I voted, they would be all over me. I’d be so embarrassed if they knew how many times I’d failed. Wow. We sure are afraid of they.

What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t think I have enough experience? What if they think I’m too old? What if I can’t do it? Yeah, we’re afraid of “what if,” too.

Jesus never feared the crowds. He wasn’t afraid when people tried to push him off a cliff. Or when everyone picked up stones to throw at him. Or when a mob showed up to arrest him. Or when the crowd yelled, “Crucify him!” Now those are some crowds to be afraid of!

Jesus didn’t fear the crowds. He loved them. He had compassion. He healed them. He taught them. He fed them. He saved them.

Here’s some good news. The Lord knows what you’re thinking. He knows what you’ve done. He knows how many times you failed. He knows how you voted (even though he probably doesn’t care). He knows. And it doesn’t change a thing. He still wants to be with you, teach you, and take care of you. He loves you.

Sure, we know what it’s like to be in their shoes and be afraid of people. Yet isn’t it amazing that the love of just one – Jesus – outweighs those crowds of people who stir up so much fear? That’s right, “His perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

When I’m afraid, Lord, remind me of your steadfast love that endures forever. Amen.

Posted in 2021 Advent devotions

Great fear

“The Road to Bethlehem” Advent devotion for December 13. Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

In the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. (Luke 2:8-9)

The road to Bethlehem must have been dark at night. If the skies were clear, they were filled with a million stars. You might see a flickering campfire where the shepherds sat, watching over the flock. What a picture perfect backdrop for the terrifying appearance of an angel and the glory of the Lord!

That’s right – terrifying. Adam and Eve hid from God (Genesis 3). Isaiah was overwhelmed when he found himself in the throne room of God (Isaiah 6). After a miraculous catch of fish, Peter was frightened to be in the presence of the Lord (Luke 5). And these shepherds were “sore afraid” (King James Version).

A long time before this, God’s people had trembled at the foot of Mount Sinai when the glory of the Lord covered the mountain with a devouring fire (Exodus 24:17). Priests couldn’t enter the tabernacle or later, the temple, when the glory of the Lord filled those places. And now, shepherds trembled with fear as the glory of the Lord descended to a different kind of temple, a baby boy in Bethlehem. For the shepherds, the road to Bethlehem began with fear.

Is there any fear left in Christmas? Perhaps. You just need to know where to look. You won’t see it in the manmade lights and decorations of the season, no matter how big or bright. You won’t see it in the food and the gifts, no matter how extravagant. You won’t find it in the cost of shipping your gifts or traveling to see family.

You’ll find it in God’s word as it grips your heart and soul with both his awesome holiness and his unlimited grace. You’ll find it in a moment of prayer when you realize he’s listening and responding as you cast your cares on him and let him know your requests. In that moment, the Almighty, the Creator and your Father is completely focused on you. You experience it in the sacrament, the most expensive and extravagant meal ever.

As Jesus prepared himself and his disciples for the cross, he prayed, ““Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son” (John 17:1). The glory of God is seen in his innocent suffering and death for us. That’s why he was born. That’s why there is Christmas. And that is why the shepherds were so afraid. They knew, in that moment, just how much God love them.

I hope you do too.

Lord, let me experience some fear as well as joy this Christmas. Let me be overwhelmed with your love as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Amen.