“Ooh!!” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.
But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Reading through the Gospel of Mark this past month, I was drawn to see how often people were afraid of Jesus. John the Baptist was afraid to baptize him. Peter was scared stiff when Jesus called him to be an apostle. Unclean spirits were always terrified of Jesus because they knew who he really was. Jesus’ family was afraid for him. Herod was afraid that Jesus was John the Baptist’s ghost returned to exact revenge.
I find it interesting that after Jesus’ miracles, the reaction was often fear. When the villagers saw the Gadarene demoniac “sitting and clothed and in his right mind’, rather than rejoicing, “they were afraid” (Mark 5:15). When Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples’ panic of drowning quickly changed to awed fright at the power of their rabbi to control even the weather. When the resurrected Jesus appeared to his followers, their response was fear.
This is hardly a kinder, gentler Jesus. He isn’t the “easy touch” who will see that we are prosperous and comfortable whenever we upload a request to him. It certainly is not an undemanding, inoffensive Jesus. Our Lord expected negative and even violent reactions to himself, saying “Blessed are those who are not offended because of me.” Direct encounters with the severe glory of God are always terrifying. “‘Course he isn’t safe.”
Looking at how Jesus was feared led me to the answer to a mystery I had never fully understood. Why did the religious leaders hate Jesus so violently? Mark 11:18 says it so clearly (How did I miss it all these years?):
“And the scribes and the chief priests heard it and
sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him….”
They hated him because they “feared” him. Jesus is awesome and his enemies understand that well. We should never be surprised at rejection and persecution and hatred. Fear generates and drives hatred, especially when a person’s status and authority are threatened. And Jesus is an enormous threat to this world order. He is no tame lion; no one is his equal; no one is his competition. He is dangerous…not a tame lion.
Why did they kill Jesus? They were indescribably afraid of him. As sent ambassadors of this all-powerful King, we must simply tell his message. Most will respond with fear. Some may want to “kill the messenger” because of the message; others will consider it cautiously; a few will respond gladly. Those who may hate us really only fear Him. Jesus understood this and warned that we would be persecuted and hated because of him. Are you afraid of them? Remember that they are much more afraid of HIM.
He is not safe but he is good. He’s the King I tell you.
Bob Butler from Texas