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by | Jun 22, 2022 | Fear, Surrender

When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met Him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before Him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have You to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.’ For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. … Then people … came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. … Then all the people … asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. This story has a strange ending—’Then all the people … asked Jesus to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.”‘

(Luke 8:27-29a, 35, 37 ESV)

You’d think they would’ve got used to fear by now. After all, they had been living with a man possessed by demons for a long time. Any time they went outside the city, there was a risk that they would run into him—naked, tortured, strong, and out of his right mind. He even lived in a graveyard!

And then came Jesus. In a single hour, He healed the man and freed the city of its nightmare. What a day to celebrate!

And yet—Jesus had brought something else that was frightening. Jesus brought change. They now had to deal with a powerful, unknown teacher—in fact, with the Son of God. They weren’t prepared for that. They were frightened. And they asked Jesus to go away.

It’s hard to blame them. When change comes into my life, even a good change, it can scare us. We are used to the way it was before. And now that life is different—now that a relative is in treatment for alcoholism, or a child has been born, or we are starting a wonderful new job—we are afraid. Who can help us through this? Who will even understand us, when we don’t seem overjoyed?

Only Jesus. Look at how gentle He is with the people of the city. He does not argue. He simply gets back in the boat. And He asks the man that He saved to go home to his city, and tell them how much God had done for him. It sounds odd, but this man would probably be less frightening and more effective an ambassador for the Gospel than Jesus Himself—because they knew him already. As people watched him living his new, healthy life, they might begin to lose their fear—and seek out Jesus.

When we are afraid, we can turn to Jesus for the understanding and gentleness He shows here. He will be patient with us—after all, He gave His very life to set us free from the power of sin and evil. Jesus became a human being so that “through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14b-15 ESV). And then He rose from the dead to give us joy and trust in the place of fear.

We pray: Dear Lord, when I am afraid, help me to trust Your gentleness and love. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on June 16, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved

Reflection Questions:
1. How much do you dread change, on a scale from one to ten?
2. When have you been afraid of a good change?
3. Tell about a time when God helped you through a life change, big or small.