Courage in the Face of Fear

Mark 16:8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

The Sabbath after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so they could anoint him. A common task, for a common occurrence. Putting spices on bodies to prevent smells after death is common, death is common, showing up to a tomb you expect to be filled and it is empty however is not common.

Mary, Mary, and Salome were scared, so scared that they did not tell anyone even though the Angel told them to. There was plenty to be scared of! First off, scripture tells us a Roman seal was placed on the tomb of Jesus. History tells us that the penalty for those who broke the seal was that they would be broken themselves, ie. the death penalty. And common sense tells us that dead bodies are supposed to stay dead! All good reasons to be afraid. Mary, Mary and Salome’s fear was a reasonable excuse to not tell anyone what they saw at the tomb.

When I attended Indianapolis North Central High School in Indiana, all students had to take a swimming course for 9 weeks in order graduate from high school. I could not swim. I could not dive off the diving board into the deep end. I had no idea how to tread water. However, midway through the class I made a decision: I would have to jump into the deep end even though I was scared. I could be scared and still learn how to swim.

We often look at fear as a bad thing, a dreadful and immobilizing emotion; as if no one is supposed to be fearful, especially when doing the work of the Lord. Some may look at a situation and say that you cannot be courageous or successful if you are fearful. However, author Ambrose Redmoon said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

Mary, Mary and Salome were faced with a fearful situation, Mark 16:8 tells us that they were scared and told no one. Someone had to face their fears and operate in spite of their fears to tell the story to other disciples because the word got out. We celebrate an event that happened over 2000 years ago because someone was willing to tell the story, regardless of fear.

Prayer for today: Lord help me to look at any fear that may be holding me back in my life and ministry and help me to press forward. Amen.  

Rev. Johnnie Simpson Jr. is Senior Pastor of Faith United Methodist Church in Dickinson, Texas outside of Houston. Johnnie and the rest of his congregation would love to have you join them if you are ever in the area.

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