Nothing to fear (Third Sunday of Easter, 14 April)

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ Sadly, many people in our society are paralysed by their fears. Fear can be one of the biggest obstacles in our path. Often, we fear what we do not know. It is that lack of knowledge about what might be that heightens our fear and causes us distress.

When the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, they were overcome with fear. In the Gospel reading set for this Sunday (from Luke Chapter 24), St Luke tells us that the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost when Jesus appeared to them, because they were convinced the risen Jesus was not real. Jesus recognised that the disciples’ fear was caused by their doubt. They doubted that he could be alive. They doubted that God could save Jesus from death, and we know from other Scriptures that they feared for their own safety in the light of the terrible things that had been done to their Lord. But they had nothing to fear. Lovingly, Jesus met them in their doubts. As he did for Thomas in last week’s Gospel account, he invited the doubters to look at his wounds and touch him to see that their fear was ill-founded.

God’s reassurance in the face of doubt and fear was not and is not new. In Isaiah 41:10 God spoke through his prophet saying, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” In Deuteronomy 31:6 we read, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread … for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” In John 14:27, Jesus blessed his friends with these words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

At this Easter time, let us be reassured by these words and by the knowledge that God raised Jesus from the dead for the salvation of all.

Grace and peace to you all,