Questions: Why are you afraid?

Whether talking with the disciples, speaking in a public forum, or defending Himself before His enemies, Jesus consistently asked questions.  In the four gospels, Jesus asked over 300 questions.


Why are you afraid?

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Matthew 8:23-37

friday_57595743_SFear. It’s something I wish I could say that I rarely feel since becoming a believer.  But even though I professionally counsel many who struggle with fear and anxiety, I can’t deny my own battle with it as well.

I know that because we live in a fallen world, we will always feel a measure of fear. In fact, God designed our brains to detect danger and to feel fear in order to prompt us to take action. A portion of our brain is constantly scanning our environment to detect threats. If this automatic and reactive region of the brain decides that something poses a threat, then a signal is sent to get our mind and body ready for whatever may be looming in our midst. Adrenaline pumps, hearts race, hands sweat, and stomachs lurch. hands are sweating and our stomach feels awful. We can’t always prevent this rapid surge from happening; it is naturally associated with dangerous situations.

The most advanced and rational region of our brain, the cortex, has the opportunity to either fuel or override the fear. Our knowledge of who God is, our memories of Scripture and our past experiences all play an enormous role in how the cortex will handle what we are experiencing, both externally and internally.

If we choose to trust God for wisdom, discernment, direction and leading, even if our lives are truly in danger, we can still experience a powerful peace amidst the storm. If we look at the situation and refuse to place our trust in God’s providence, His love, and His guidance, we can quickly go into panic mode.

I think this is what Jesus detected in this scene on the water. The storm would have been viewed as a threat to anyone, simply based on the way that we are created. But, once they assessed the situation—yet refused to trust that Jesus, who was right there with them, was in control—they moved from instinctive fear to panicky fear. Instead of believing in Jesus’ power, the gravity of their situation led them to doubt both His position and His passion for them.

In a similar situation my response has everything to do with what I choose to focus on. Once my physical symptoms alert me to the fact that I am feeling fearful or anxious, if I don’t allow the steadfast character of God and the truths of Scripture to be my anchor, I will inevitably flounder like the disciples did that day. My interactions with Him will be characterized by frightful cries instead of faith-filled conversations that affirm I know who He is, what He is about, and what I can lean on in the midst of the storm.

God knows that we will feel fear at times. But, as soon as we become aware of what is happening, we must take time to answer the question as well. “Why are you afraid?” Will your mind believe or doubt the omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God?


Questions: But, who do you say that I am?

Whether talking with the disciples, speaking in a public forum, or defending Himself before His enemies, Jesus consistently asked questions.  In the four gospels, Jesus asked over 300 questions.


But, who do you say that I am?


Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 

Matthew 16:13-17

thursday_11949107_SA few years ago at a son’s soccer game, a few parents began to talk about the new coach. As people began offering their candid opinions, it became clear that many parents were not happy with his coaching style. Parents were saying that even their kids thought he didn’t know what he was doing. One parent called him completely inept as a coach.

Even though I tried my best to stay focused on the game in front of me, because of where I was seated, the comments felt like they were flying across my lap and over my head. Hoping I could stay out of it all, I remained silent. But alas, one of the parents wanted to know what I thought. After all, my son was one of the older kids who had been coached under the old guard as well as the new.

Frustrated that I could no longer avoid the debate happening around me, I concocted the most noncommittal, sitting-on-the-fence responses that I could. Even though I actually had a very strong opinion about the coach, my great desire to stay out of the crossfire kept me from offering anything substantial.

Mix people with something controversial and a scene like this is inevitable. We often have just two options. We can say what we feel and do our best to defend our viewpoint.  Or, we can try to remain a passive observer by listening without participating. Sometimes our unwillingness to say anything indicates that we really don’t know what we think. Maybe we haven’t felt the need or had the encouragement to formulate our own beliefs.

Perhaps this is why Jesus asks these two questions of the disciples. He gets them to talk about the popular opinions about who He is. As each of the disciples begin to share what the word on the street is, Jesus interrupts them and asks them to shift gears. He wants them to take a stand.

“But, who do you say that I am?” is a personal question that allows each of them to take their eyes off the perspectives of the majority to share what they are really thinking or perhaps even saying to others about who He is.

While I believe times are changing in the U.S., in many ways remaining a passive observer of Christianity is still relatively easy. We can attend a church or go to our weekly Bible study, yet when heated discussions about Christ or Christianity arise, we may refuse to say what we believe about Jesus. If we believe that He is the Risen One, the Son of God, then this impacts just about every divisive topic that is out there these days.

However, it’s far easier to move toward the fence in the middle and avoid exposure than to boldly state our opinions. But, if through a prayer of commitment, we have proclaimed that Jesus is the Risen Son of God and the only way in which we can be saved, then we must live and speak out this answer in a way that is consistent with what we have said before God.

Dear Lord, give us courage to tell the world who we say that you are.


Questions: Do you believe I can do this?

Whether talking with the disciples, speaking in a public forum, or defending Himself before His enemies, Jesus consistently asked questions.  In the four gospels, Jesus asked over 300 questions.


Do you believe I can do this?

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”  When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. 

Matthew 9:27-30

wednesday_39494579_SWhen I was a kid, I loved watching magicians at work. The card tricks, birds popping out of hats and handkerchiefs pulled out of ears absolutely amazed me. In a category of their own, however, were the illusionists. Their tricks far superseded ordinary magic tricks. Guys like David Copperfield, David Blaine and Siegfried and Roy would cause large items to appear or disappear.

Half the time I watched their shows because I didn’t think they could really pull it off. How in the world could a person make an elephant or the Statue of Liberty disappear? But, somehow, right before my eyes, these gifted entertainers convinced me that for a moment these huge things actually vanished.

For many people who lived during Jesus’ day, Jesus was just a trickster, illusionist or even a sorcerer of sorts. They couldn’t understand how He could perform miracles. They had heard that He was healing people and making the impossible happen while others watched. Because they wanted to see for themselves, many people were following Him around just so they could see “the show.”

In today’s passage, when Jesus is approached by two blind men, He asks them, “Do you believe I can do this?” The question will reveal the status of their hearts. Were they wanting a trick or were they trusting in God and His ability? Their answer, “Yes, Lord,” tells Him exactly what He wants to know. They believed He was capable but the “Lord” told Jesus why they believed: they had faith in Jesus’ claim as well as in His ability. Jesus allowed the world to appear before their eyes.

What a great reminder to us. Having seen and heard many amazing things that God has done in my life and in the lives of those around me, I can easily say that I believe He is able to do anything. As a result, I can flood my prayers with requests, knowing He can easily answer them if He so desires.

Sadly, I don’t always allow myself to reflect on the reason why I believe He is able. First, and foremost, He is Lord. In every way possible, I must yield to Him. His plan. His ways. His timing. Because, He is Lord. I don’t think we can ever let that truth simmer too long in our hearts. It is so foundational to the reason we can actually go to Him and ask Him whatever we want.

Today, take a moment to reflect on whether you believe He can actually do what you asked Him to do yesterday? Like kids watching a great magician at work, we can overly focus on what we see. God invites us to be like these blind men who heard about the Lord, surrendered to Him and then sought His help. I believe He wants our eyes forever fixed on His position as the Lord of our lives before we lay our requests before Him. Because He is God, He is able.