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April 14 – Acting on Fear or in Faith?

In 1988, Barry Gibbs heard the declaration that he was guilty of murder and would be sentenced to 22 years in prison. While he didn’t match the witness’s description, that same witness picked him out of the lineup. Mr. Gibbs sat in prison, trying to get his conviction overturned. In 1999, he appealed to DNA experts which caused the case to be re-opened. There was no evidence. When he went in front of the parole board, they weren’t going to grant him parole because he didn’t show remorse for a crime he didn’t commit. Then, in 2005, he finally got a break. The arresting officer was arrested because of connections to an organized crime family. His file was in the paperwork the authorities seized. The witness who identified Gibbs was tracked down and admitted that the cop had forced him to identify Gibbs, likely to protect a murderer who was part of that crime family. After 19 years, Gibbs was finally exonerated.

Gibbs was convicted because of an unholy alliance of an agent of the state and a criminal organization. He paid a high price as a result of that conviction. It was the kind of situation that the disciples mentioned to God in prayer as they talked about the crucifixion of Jesus as predicted in the Psalms. The leaders of the nation of Israel conspired with that oppressive government from Rome and had Jesus put to death. “’The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.” (Acts 4:26-27)

The alliance that put Jesus to death was an alliance built on fear. Pilate was likely to listen to the Jewish leaders because he was afraid that the Jews would revolt if he didn’t agree to their demands about Jesus. The Jews had done that kind of thing enough so that Pilate was also afraid of the Roman government which would replace him if there was another outbreak. The Jewish leaders feared the Romans also. They were afraid that if this Jesus-mania thing kept up, the Romans would come to “pacify” Israel and wipe out all the land and power they had. When fear is the motivating factor in decisions, they’re usually bad decisions in the long run. It might be easy to question that since this was prophesied, then it wasn’t bad. After all, it fulfilled God’s will, didn’t it? The truth is that even though Jesus was put to death according to the plan of God, those who did it had to commit grievous sin in order to do so. The phrase “Good Friday” deals with the results of Jesus’ sacrifice, not the actions that caused it to happen. The betrayal by Judas was prophesied, but that didn’t make it good. The conspiracy against Jesus was prophesied. That still doesn’t make the sin involved good.

The disciples showed fear right after the crucifixion. They either tried to slink away quietly, or huddled together in a locked upper room. Then came Jesus. The resurrected Jesus showed Himself to the disciples and they were transformed. Instead of fearing for their lives, they spoke boldly for God. When they were arrested, the flung the resurrection as proof that Jesus was God’s Messiah in the face of the Sanhedrin and all they could do was make an ineffectual request for them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. When they were released from custody, they praised God and spoke the word of God more boldly. As you decide on the different actions you will take today, I have one question: will you act out of fear of the consequences or will you live boldly, following the will of Jesus in your life? Choose to walk in the light of Jesus. Even though we observe the crucifixion of Jesus today, walk in the victory of the resurrection, since you know the rest of the story.

Oh Lord, today as I think about the terrible death that You accepted willingly so that I could be forgiven, help me to decide to act on faith, not on fear. Let me live boldly for Jesus in all that I do today and in the future.


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