Was Jesus Ever Afraid?

20 07 2006

In family devotions the other evening I was reading and was struck by the words in Mark 12.12 where the Pharisees “feared the people for they understood that He spoke the parable against them”. Jesus tells a parable that indicts the Pharisees persistent disregard for the glory of God. Christ even connected their resistence to the divine will with all of those in their demonic family tree who have likewise desired the silencing of truth even by execution.

This struck me as I considered that while fear and being afraid are all over the Bible these terms are never used to describe Jesus. Where or when was Jesus ever afraid? We never learn of the Savior expressing his concern over what will happen or will not happen and never anxious or worrying about potential reactions of others.


It is simple: dependence. Christ, himself being God, expressed and demonstrated the model for humanity in his complete confidence, trust and dependence in God, specifically the sovereignty & goodness of God.

Jesus knew and lived like he believed that God is sovereign over everything; there is nothing that surprises or unsettles God. Even in the Garden we see Christ pouring out his heart to the Father, proclaiming his commitment to and confidence in God. He marched with resolve to Calvary without being afraid of men or circumstances. Why? Because he knew that God is sovereign. Consider what he told Pilate: “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above…(John 19.11).

In a similar vein Psalm 115:3 says, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” God is in control, he has power, he has something to get done and he gets it done!! God’s ultimate will cannot be hijacked. Jesus knew this so he lived this.

Jesus also knew that God is good. Not only is he all powerful but he is also good, even being the very picture and standard of goodness. It would be one thing to be sovereign and powerful but also bad or evil. We have seen this in dictators. This is not comforting at all but instead is fearful. But with God we have a Sovereign who is “good and does good” (Ps. 119.68). God’s goodness reflects his heart and is representative of his glory:

In Exodus 33 Moses asked to see God’s glory and what did God say? “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you…” Moses wants to see God’s glory and God reveals his goodness.

So why do we fear? Why do we get anxious or afraid? If we are to be like Jesus then should we not be fasting from fear?

In Matthew (6.25-34) Jesus commands his followers not to worry. He even goes so far as to say that worrying is a characteristic of an unbeliever (32).

We are to fear God (know who he is and respond accordingly) so that we will not fear man or life!

Why shouldn’t we worry? For the same reason that Jesus did not worry or fear, God is sovereign and good. Our reactions of fear and worry are no less than a disagreement with the qualifications and/or the faithfulness of God. We are basically saying, “Oh no! What will I do? What can I do? What is going to happen to me?”

Do you see the independence in these statements?

Instead we should be saying, “Oh man, this is tough. Lord how are you in your sovereignty going to work this out? I trust you. You are good and do good. It is not my will that I submit to, but yours Father. I am so glad that you are good and do good, that you are sovereign over my life. Glorify yourself!”

Delight yourself in the supremacy and sufficiency of God. This brings him pleasure.

You and I can literally wake up and take a deep breath and pray, “Father, I know you are sovereign over this day, that you will give me both bread and circumstance today, that you are willing and able to bring me through these things in accordance to your goodness. So therefore Father, be glorified in me today and help me to trust in you and your character like Jesus did. Make me more dependent like Jesus.”

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba Father!”

Growing in my own confidence of God’s ability,






5 responses

20 07 2006
Eric (who spells his name correctly)

What an awesome God we serve! Thank you for your edifying teaching on this. The reminder comes at a great time for me.

20 07 2006
Justin Potts


I really enjoyed the post. The concept of God’s sovereignty is something I have for a long time taken for granted, I mean after all He is the God who Nebuchadnezzar said,
“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'” (Daniel 4:34-35)

I find for myself often times the question is not really is God in control, but can I trust that providence is really going to work for my good. So I would like to add one more attribute to God’s sovereignty and His goodness. “God is love.” Is not our fear a failure on our part to understand God’s love toward us? If God really does love us would He every do anything to harm us? Will He not preserve us in trials?

“16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but (AW)perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 Jn 4:16-18) Indeed if God is for us who can be against us!

But it is fitting that I should end where you began with His sovereignty. “We love, because He first loved us.” I believe the most telling mark of God’s love is His Soveriegn Election of His people. For when Israel questions His love what does he say:

“I have loved you,” says the LORD But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD “Yet I have loved Jacob; 3but I have hated Esau, (Mal 1:2-3)

Even more is the amazing fact that God has demonstrated His loved toward as while we were His enemies. And if God’s love is based on His sovereign choice, not anything we have done or will do and not on anything that has happened to us or will happend to us; it is shear lunacy on our part to think that anything in this world can seperate us from His love.

20 07 2006
David Wayne

Erik – do you think there was any fear attached to Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane? How about worry or anxiety?

20 07 2006

David, I think that is a legitmate question. I referenced Gethsemane in the post, albeit, in passing. Jesus as our substitute did everything right and perfect (Jn. 8.29). I believe that in the Garden we have Christ reacting perfectly to the most difficult, heavy, unimaginable weight (the consideration of bearing the unmitigated cup of divine wrath). So we have Christ knowing this and in his humanity dreading it, but is he anxious or afraid or worried. I do not believe so. I believe he prayed and ensured that his heart and will were calibrated with the Father’s and in so doing demonstrated the perfect posture to assume when approaching or bearing any burden, namely to submit to the divine will and depend on the divine character. Christ is the example. Struggle with the weight yes, but doubt or question (worry) the goodness or sovereignty of God no, never; Christ responds perfectly.

thanks for stopping by David; I enjoy your ministry on the Jolly Blogger site.


21 07 2006
David Wayne

Erik – good on ya, as our Aussie friends would say. I didnt intend any snark by the question, btw. One of the problems with the question is that we are trying to get inside Jesus head. So, who knows what definition to put on what He was experiencing. I do agree that He responded perfectly but I do think He was anxious and-or afraid. I dont know how else we can make sense of His tears and His plea to take the cup away from Him. And my point in saying that is to say that not all anxiety or fear is sinful. Its what you do with it that counts and in that regard I am right with you – Jesus responded perfectly.

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