Just because something is easy to say does not mean it is easy to do.
So it is easy for Jesus to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” It’s far more difficult to actually absolve one of the guilt before God that is incurred by sin, which was exactly Jesus’s point and claim in Mk. 2:5-12.
And it is easy to say to someone, “do not be afraid.” It’s far more difficult for that person to stop being afraid. Yet Christ’s presence was sufficient to keep the disciples (and us) from being afraid (John 6:15-21).
Here is the scenario: Jesus has taught the lesson of His sufficiency and power through the feeding of the 5000 (note that this was a test of the disciple’s knowledge of and trust in Christ, v. 6). And then He sent the disciples off in a boat while He went to pray. Test number 2. Will they be afraid without Him?
A storm then arose. But these were fishermen, used to the storms of Galillee and while they strained at the oars, there is no indication that they were afraid of the storm itself. But then came what appeared to them to be an apparition. Then they were terrified! So the one walking on the water — Jesus — spoke to them: “It is I; do not be afraid.” Or, more literally, “I am. Stop being afraid.”
With these simple words, Jesus was making a declaration of His deity and eternal and infinite nature: He was the great I am, and because of that, they had no reason to fear, and they should stop being fearful.
It is interesting how often God and Jesus address this command to the disciples and other of His followers in the New Testament:
- “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt. 10:28)
- And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” (Mt. 17:7)
- The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.” (Mt. 28:5)
- Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Mt. 28:10)
- But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” (Mk. 5:36)
- But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” (Lk. 1:13)
- The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.” (Lk. 1:30)
- But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people…” (Lk. 2:10)
- and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” (Lk. 5:10)
- But when Jesus heard this, He answered him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well.” (Lk. 8:50)
- “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Lk. 12:4)
- “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Lk. 12:7)
- “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Lk. 12:32)
- “FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT.” (Jn. 12:15)
- “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jn. 14:27)
- And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;” (Acts 18:9)
These command to not be afraid is given in both “unusual situations,” (the virgin birth, the resurrection, and severe storms) and everyday circumstances and burdens (“job” changes [Lk. 5:10], persecution, daily financial pressures [Lk. 12:32]). Here’s the lesson: in any and every circumstance, God is present and God is sufficient for our needs.
The comfort of Christ is sufficient for every pressure and fear of man. Do not be afraid.