Sun, Jan 06, 2002


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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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MATTHEW 27:57-60

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 27 as we look at a specific fear that causes us to act in a way that is not pleasing to God. Today, the number of phobias or fears continues to grow. Now if you have a phobia or fear something, I am not picking on you or making fun of you. But some of these phobias you wonder about.

We have all probably heard of Arachnophobia or the fear of spiders, like the one next to your chair. Just kidding! But did you realize that there is the dreaded Olfactophobia or the fear of odor. I see none of you have that one. Here is one I had years ago, it is self-explanatory, school phobia! Then there is the Eisoptrophobia or the fear of seeing oneself in the mirror. That one is mostly seen in mornings, from what I understand!

Let’s see if you can guess this one. When I was a kid I heard this often. "Joseph William Guglielmo, get inside right now!" Do you know that one? It is Onomatophobia or the fear of hearing a certain name. There is also Peladophobia or the fear of baldness or bald people. That can be serious for some of you! On the other end of the spectrum there is Chaetophobia or the fear of hairy people! And the one I don’t have, Lalophobia or the fear of speaking or talking! Lastly, there is the one that sums them all up, Phobophobia or the fear of being afraid.

When it comes to fear in our own lives what is the thing that it tends to do the most? It paralyzes us, freezes us from moving forward, and it can be detrimental to our lives! Another is called Androphobia, and it is the one we will be focusing on this morning, the fear of man. And this fear does the same as the others, and it can be very detrimental to our walk with God.

Now before we get into Matthew chapter 27, keep your finger there and turn to John chapter 19, for John gives us the details leading up to our study this morning. Let’s begin reading in verse 31 of John chapter 19, where we read, "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.’" John 19:31-37.

Please understand that as cruel as it sounds to break a persons legs with a big club, they were actually doing them a favor. You see, by doing this it quickened the death process for those that were crucified. And the reason is simple. They could no longer push up to breath and they would suffocate! As the soldiers came to Jesus to break His legs, they saw that He was already dead, and they did not break His legs, fulfilling the prophecy but breaking their own orders they received.

At this point one of the soldiers took a spear and thrust it into the side of Jesus causing water and blood to flow out. It would seem that Jesus died of a ruptured or broken heart for a watery fluid can build up in the sack around the heart and if the heart ruptured, this sac would fill up with blood. Now, with that as the background, let’s begin reading in verse 57 of Matthew chapter 27 and see what the Lord has for us this morning.

MATTHEW 27:57-60

This man who came to care for the body of Jesus is an interesting man to say the least. Joseph lived in Arimathea, which was a city located about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem. He was a wealthy man, he had the resources to get what he wanted when he wanted.

Religiously speaking, he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin which was the supreme court of the Jewish faith. He was a good man and he was a follower of Jesus, although up until this point not many were aware of his relationship with Jesus. Interestingly enough, we are told in Luke 23:51 of Joseph, "He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God." Joseph did not consent to the death of Jesus, as did the others. He was waiting for the kingdom of God to come and he believed Jesus was the one to bring that about, He was the fulfillment of what the Scriptures said.

Why in the world did Joseph not speak up during these religious trials of Jesus? He was silent, maybe abstaining from voting, but he did not stand-up for Jesus! The fear of man! Understand this, Joseph was not alone with his feelings towards Jesus, many were believers, but they too were silent. Listen carefully, because this is the same reason, the same thing that paralyzes us, stops us from doing what is right. In John 12:42-43 we are told, "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."

Do you see their dilemma? We should, because it is what we struggle with. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 29:25, "The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." And in The Living Bible this verse reads, "Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety." That is the problem, the fear of man! The word "fear" speaks of shaking or trembling. And Solomon tells us that this fear of man is like a snare or a trap in your life, ready to snap down upon you and catch you, so be careful!

What happened with Joseph and the other men, including Nicodemus, who followed Jesus secretly? They did not want to lose their positions. They did not want to get kicked out of the Synagogue. They did not want to lose their jobs. They worked hard for all these things and if they followed Jesus openly, they would lose everything, maybe even their own families!

You see, Jesus blasted the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and thus, they hated Jesus for that. So if you, as a religious leader, would side with Jesus, you would be cast from this group, ostracized, looked down upon. So Joseph and these other men, because of their fear of man, got caught in this trap and tried to be secret followers of Jesus, which just doesn’t work. You see, instead of serving the Lord openly, the fear of man will always cause you to do things that are not right because you are trying to serve the Lord in secret instead of openly, in the light!

In regards to this, John White has said:

Anytime we are engaged in a work for God, we are likely to encounter the poison-tipped arrows of ridicule. A barrage of truth mingled with lies, innuendo, malicious gossip and implied threats is the normal experience of leaders. Malice arises from fear. And fear is a common response to someone else’s success. So expect to have your faults thrown in your face, your folly mocked and your real progress belittled. When this happens, by all means allow yourself to be cut down to size, but do not let yourself be dismayed or intimidated. Remember that the chorus of contempt has a diabolical conductor whose aim is to make your knees buckle. He likes tongue-tied, ineffective Christians and plays on your secret fears and inferiorities to make you one of them.

I am full of fears and chasms of inferiority. Whenever I have listened to the enemy pointing them out I have stopped working for the kingdom. Yet in those moments when I have refused to listen to him and have feebly walked in obedience, I have been astonished at what God has done with my feeble performance.

- John White

Many Christians do the same every day, as they let fear paralyze them and thus, they are unable to serve the Lord. They become incapacitated. Think of it this way, as you are going through life, as tough, as difficult as it may be, as big as those giants may seem in you life, God is bigger and He will see you through them, through those times. You see, any dead fish can float downstream, you don’t have to do anything.

But we, as Christians, are not to be swept away with the dead, the lifeless things of this world, but we are going to swim upstream, no matter what the cost may be, and when you stand up for Jesus, when you proclaim the Gospel message, you will encounter difficulty many times.

Don’t let it stop you from serving Him

You see, you may lose your friends, you may lose those that were close to you, even your family at times, you may lose your position at work, or whatever, but so what! You don’t want to go before the Lord with the blood of your family and friends on your hands because you hid your faith, you were afraid to share the Gospel message. It is as the saying goes, and may we shout it out, "I love Jesus, yes I do! I love Jesus, how ‘bout you?" Don’t let the things of this world trap you, ensnare you into doing things you should not be doing or stopping you from saying the things that you should be saying!

If you want a good perspective of this world, listen to what John has to say, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." I John 2:15-17. And yet, we tend to hold onto that which is passing away, grabbing for it, not wanting to lose it, instead of doing the will of the Father, by which we will be blessed.

Remember Proverbs 29:25, "The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe." What are you putting your trust in or who are you putting your trust in? Solomon says that we need to put our trust in the Lord, for it is in the Lord that we shall be safe. The word "safe" in Hebrew speaks of setting on high, secure. It reminds me of a child who is fearful and his parent comes and picks him up, sets him on a high place, in his arms, where the child is safe, secure, and that is what God does with us or what He wants to do with us if we would only trust in Him.

Joseph now is laying it all on the line for Jesus, not just with his fellow Jews and religious leaders, which was tough, but with Pilate as he goes and asks for the body of Jesus. You see, when a person was crucified for a capitol crime, they would leave the bodies many times on the cross so the vultures, the birds, the dogs would feed on them, and then what was left was thrown into a common grave.

And keep in mind that Pilate is already upset with the Jews for forcing him to put Jesus to death. And he could have turned against Joseph, but he didn’t. He released the body of Jesus to Joseph so that he may care for it and place the body of Jesus into the grave, the one that Joseph made for his own family, he gave to Jesus. You see, it took the death of Jesus, His Savior, for Joseph to risk it all and take those steps of faith. What will it take in your life for you to get serious about your relationship with Jesus?

Fear is the opposite of faith because you are saying that you don’t trust God. On the other hand, faith stands strong, not because of our might, our power, our wisdom, our riches, but because we trust in the Lord, plain an simple. How much do you trust the Lord? Are you willing to give your life to Him, trusting He will guide you down the best path for your life, no matter what difficulties may come your way? I hope so!

Notice what Paul says about this life in II Corinthians 4:16-5:1, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

In your life, the things you are going through, the difficulties, the frustrations, have you ever wondered what God is doing? I am sure you have! To put it simply, God is preparing us for heaven! He is allowing things in our life to mold and shape us into the men and women He wants us to be. And Paul’s focus was not on the light afflictions we go through in this life, but on eternity with the Lord. Now for some of you, that is hard to swallow, considering all the things you have or may be going through in this life.

And if you are feeling that way, your perspective is all wrong. You need to compare these "light afflictions" or heavy afflictions as you may see them, with eternity in mind. For if you do, you will truly see these things as temporary, especially when you compare it to our life with Jesus in the eternal state, which will be glorious!

I like what David said in Psalm 31:14-15,"But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me." David put his trust in the Lord, he was not afraid to say he loved the Lord, and he realized that his life, his days on this earth are in the hands of God, and he rested in that and so should we. Yes, God delivered David from his enemies many times, but it is a trust, a faith in the Lord that causes us to move forward, and not backward, no matter what may come our way.

Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, who were taken captive along with Daniel and brought to Babylon. And these three Jewish captives were placed in what we might call a fiery trial. King Nebuchadnezzar made a huge gold image and placed it in the plains of Dura for all to see and at the appointed time, all were to bow and worship this image.

But these three Jewish captives, refused to bow and worship any other god besides the true and living God. Now that was a bold statement on their part, for these young men were in captivity. When the king found out of their rebellion against his command, he was upset to say the least. He threatened these three young men, he was going to burn them alive if they continued to refuse to bow their knee to this image. He gave them one more chance and said to them "...But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" Daniel 3:15.

The king was challenging their faith, the God they served. And this was a serious situation for them to be in. It would have been easier for them to just do what they were told and save the battle for their God for another day. But they didn’t. What would you do if you faced a situation like this? Listen to what these men did as we read in Daniel 3:17-18 as these men said, "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

The first thing they recognized is that God could have spared them from this fiery furnace, He is able to do that. Not only that, but their God could deliver them from the hands of this powerful pagan king. Now here is the kicker. They also recognized that God is sovereign and His will may be for them to be burned in this fire, but whatever the case, they would not deny their faith. They would stand strong in the Lord and see what happens in the end. Their faith was real, and it was seen in their actions. They lived what they believed!

That made Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, furious! He heated up the fire seven times hotter than normal, and told his guards to toss these men into the fire. And as they did, the heat was so intense, the guards were burned alive! And as those three Jewish young men fell into the fire, the king began to look and he was shocked. He didn’t see just 3 men in there, but 4, and one of them looked like the Son of God! All four of them were walking in the midst of this fiery furnace, and nothing happened to them, the flames did not harm them.

God spared these young men, their faith stood strong through this fiery trial, and we read in Daniel 3:27-28, "And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!’"

There faith was a witness to all those people who watched, and our faith is also a witness for all those who are watching. Those that are looking to see if we fail, if we stumble, if we get burned in the fiery trial, or if our faith will stand the test of these trials as a witness to those who are watching. God is with us just as He was with those three men, even through the hottest of trials!

Now some of you may be thinking you are too young, too old, too fragile, too whatever to be used by God. Please understand this, God is not looking for the biggest person, the strongest person, the most talented person, but for those whom He can work through, those who are willing to just trust in Him.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. King Asa was a good king, he started out trusting in the Lord, and God have him great victories. But then things got tough, and instead of trusting in the Lord for help against the Northern Kingdom of Israel, he looked to Syria. And the Syrian king, Ben-Hadad brought about a great victory for Asa, but God was not pleased. He trusted in the strength of man instead of the strength of the Lord!

In II Chronicles we read beginning in verse 7 of II Chronicles chapter 16, "And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him: ‘Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.’" II Chronicles 16:7-9.

God is looking for people who trust in Him so that He can use them to show His glory, to show His strength through. For Asa, he feared man and it caused him to get caught in a trap and trust in the strength of man instead of the Lord, and thus, instead of being delivered from war, he was going to encounter wars and the same is true in our lives if we let the fear of man cause us to trust in someone or something other than the Lord. You see, it is not about us, it is all about Him! We are the instrument that He uses to do a work. You don’t praise the instrument, but the one who uses that instrument, God!

Can you imagine having surgery and thanking the scalpel for the wonderful job it did on you? The doctor would lock you up and throw away the key. He did the work, the scalpel was just the instrument he used. And God uses us as His instrument to show Himself strong through! Don’t forget that.

You are never too young, too old, too frail, too weak, too uneducated for God to use. Listen to this true story that took place several years ago. The story goes like this:


This is a true story of an eighth grade student named Billy. He loved Jesus. In fact in his Junior High School he was known as a Jesus freak. He carried his Bible everywhere. Most of the students liked him. He was basically a nice guy. His stand for Jesus was very obvious and very uncompromising.

In his eighth grade year, second semester, he had a science teacher that was very bitter and very cynical about Christians and about God. The science teacher was an agnostic, or someone who doubts the possibility or knowing the existence of God. The science teacher said in that class, which Billy was in, "By the time this semester is over none of you are going to believe in the simplistic story of Biblical creation. We are going to show you that there is a much better way to explain the universe and our world. We are going to explain to you the evolutionary model and how much more satisfactorily it answers the questions of science." He knew that Billy was a Christian. Billy just sat there and smiled.

And as the weeks went on this science teacher realized that he was not converting Billy. He was still coming in with his Bible and a smile on his face. So he would kind of dig at Billy, make fun of him. "Good morning class" he would say. "And Good morning Christian. Did God talk to you today?" and the students would snicker. "Did God show His face to you today?" and the students would giggle. And he would really just keep digging at Billy.

But as the weeks went on, near the end of the semester, he realized that he was making no progress at undermining Billy’s faith. On the last day of class this teacher said, "Obviously class we are not yet totally persuaded that Darwin’s theory of evolution is in reality a fact. Billy you don’t believe that do you?" Billy said, "No sir, I don’t."

"You still believe in a personal, real God." "Yes sir, I do." "We’ll, being as it is the last day of class we are going to end our semester with a empirical scientific test to see if God is real." In other words, they were going to conduct a scientific experiment that was based on observation for the conclusion and not on theory.

And as this teacher sat there behind his desk he opened up the drawer of his desk and pulled out a large raw white egg.

"Class, what is this?" They responded by saying, "An egg." "Right. Billy, what is this?" "An egg sir." "Right. Now Billy, in just a moment I am going to drop this egg, this raw egg on this hard floor. But before I do Billy, I want you to pray to God, if He is personal and if He is real. I want you to pray that when this raw egg hits this hard tile floor, that it won’t break. If God is real, that He will show us, scientifically, empirically, that the egg will just bounce up and won’t break at all. Then we can see and have proof that God is real." And the class all smiled and kind of snickered encouraging the experiment to go on.

Billy said, "I will do that. I will pray." and he stood up, closed his eyes and prayed, "Father, you have heard this mans challenge to You. He doesn’t believe in you but rather he is mocking the things of You. Father, I pray that when he drops that egg that that egg will shatter into a million pieces and that he would drop dead. Amen."

That teacher heard that prayer and was shocked. And he looked at Billy, and he looked at the egg. He again looked at Billy then again at the egg. And he took the egg and slowly opened the desk drawer up, and put the egg in the drawer. And he said, "Class dismissed."

And after that Billy said that the students gathered around him. And they were really interested in what church he went to and what youth group he was part of. Billy was granted a word of wisdom and took a stand against the enemy. He was able to do this because he trusted in the true and living God. He knew God as a personal God and not an impersonal force.

Understand what that teacher was trying to do. He was trying to undermine what Billy was believing in. He was trying to get Billy to remove his sandals and stand alone with his beliefs. But Billy stood firm in the faith, not in arrogance or smugly, but to take a stand for the God he served. And God blessed that faithfulness and because of the witness of Billy his friends, his classmates wanted to know more about this God that Billy served. Not this impersonal force but God who is interested in the things that are happening to His children.

We read in Nahum 1:7, that "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him." He is a personal God. He cares for us and He knows us, if we would only trust in Him.

I do realize that as we go through this life, things don’t always work out the way we want. May I give you a verse to hold onto if you ever feel that way, or should I say when you feel that way, because we do from time to time. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are told, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." He will guide you, all you need to do is trust in Him, no matter what the situation is. Our understanding of a situation may be wrong, but His is not. Don’t forget that!

Let me leave you with these words from David in Psalm 56:2-4, where he says, "My enemies would hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?" Trust in God and His Word and He will see you through the darkest of times. The fear of man will always be a snare to your life! Our safety is in the Lord! Don’t let the "Fear of...." stop you!

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