Do Not Be Afraid

And they left everything and followed Him.

Luke 5:8-11 (ESV)

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

We revisit the last three verses from yesterday’s devotional to highlight how quickly everyone shifts gears. Simon first asks Jesus to leave and then moments later reverses course and follows him. Jesus changes his mind with the words, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.

No questions; they just left everything (boats, nets, fish, everything) and followed him. And, don’t forget, they’d just hit the lottery. Two boatloads of fish is a lot to just walk away from. What were they thinking?

They couldn’t know exactly what “catching men” is referring to; that part is for future reference. The key point Jesus made is, “Do not be afraid,” – the same point the angels made to the shepherds when they announced His birth.

It’s intriguing how effective those words are. The angels say, “Be not afraid,” and the shepherds instantly relax and say, “Let’s go see the child.” Christ says, “Do not be afraid,” and Simon is ready to drop everything and follow Him.

Why is this? If I’m scared and someone says, “Be not afraid,” that’s not going to suddenly end my fear. What’s different here?

The difference is the holiness. When a normal, sinful person tells me to not be afraid, that may be comforting, but not all that comforting. They’re not a perfect reference.

But coming from a holy source, the words are solid gold.

And note that this is totally natural. The same sense that perceived the holiness and made them afraid in the first place also perceives that they’re truthful.

In a sense, the truthfulness is what folks are afraid of.

This is why Zechariah’s backtalk to Gabriel was so outrageous, and why Gabriel gave him nine months to think about it.

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” – Luke 1:18-20 (ESV)

He knows instinctively that Gabriel’s truthful. He’s really doubting God.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.