“But no one had the courage to speak favorably about Him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.” (John 7:13 NLT)
Of what do you think when you ponder the term “courage?” As I considered the idea of courage the first “picture” that came to mind was of Jesus on the Mount of Olives shortly before His betrayal. There, kneeling alone, He asked His Father: “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”
Courage, as I’m sure you’ve heard, isn’t the absence of fear, but moving forward with what lies ahead despite the fear. Sit with Jesus as He prays. Luke records in 22:44: “He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”
It’s safe to say that you or I have never prayed like that. We’ve never feared that greatly, and neither have we come close to going through what Jesus went through on our behalf. And to what end? To the end that the penalty of all the sins of all who would one day proudly declare allegiance to His holy Name would be cleansed and forgiven.
Was it worth it? He surely believed it was. But why? Because He knew there would be those brave souls across the sands of time who would willingly give all they possessed, including their lives, to see His fame declared and His sacrifice celebrated.
If you study the Sacred Text, you’ll find that many we today deem the “heroes” of our Faith were cowards who did everything they could to weasel their way out of following the Lord’s directives. And, interestingly, many for the same reason we are so hesitant to do what He asks of us. Fear!
Even Jesus was terrified of what lay before Him. And unlike any of us, He was God, which meant He knew in vivid color, almost as if He’d watched this whole process being played out on a giant screen for Him to view the gory details. Every fist that struck Him; every lash of the lead-tipped whip; every drop of spit on His holy face; every ounce of the weight of His cross that drove Him to the ground; every sound of the hammer striking the nails that pierced His sacred hands; and the horrifying efforts to grab a breath once the cross crashed into the hole that would signal the spot of His final words before He died.
Do you think He ever wondered if it was all going to be in vain? That the price He paid would ultimately not be enough to change the course of history? Do you think He feared He might fail in His efforts to change the hearts of men and women, boys, and girls?
David Prince wrote: “Courage to fail always precedes the courage to succeed.” There’s a sense in which courage is built in the fear of failure. How so? If there’s no chance of failure, why do you need courage? Success isn’t simply the accomplishment of a purpose, it’s the triumph of courage regardless of the outcome.
Jesus’ sacrifice has “failed” to change millions, likely billions of lives, yet, His triumphant courage has been rewarded countless times in the hearts and minds, not only of those who profess His wonderful name, but in and through those who overcome fear to share His name with others. When you’re tempted to be afraid when speaking with someone about Jesus, look at the Cross. Behold the courage of the One who literally gave everything to prepare a place in heaven for that one with whom you’re speaking.
Please don’t let anything stop you from opening your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit as He shares the heart of the One who died in that person’s place, to give them a future and a hope. Be courageous for Him, even in the face of possible failure! You cannot fail when you are faithful!
Blessings, Ed 😊