Does fear keep you from following Jesus?

Do you ever feel like no one listens to you? It’s frustrating when you’re trying to tell something important to your brother or sister, or even your mom and dad, and they just don’t seem to be paying attention.

Do you think Jesus ever feels like that? Like maybe you’re not listening to Him?

Mark 11:28-33 tells the story of religious leaders in Jerusalem questioning Jesus, and they didn’t want to listen to Him because they were afraid of admitting they were wrong and afraid of what people would think.


In Mark 11:28, the religious leaders demanded that Jesus tell them who gave Him permission to do the things He did. Just before this verse, Jesus had cleared the Temple of people who changed out Roman money for temple money (for giving to the temple) and people who sold animals for sacrifices. Both of these groups of people cheated their customers out of money. 

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This made Jesus angry, and He even called it a ‘den of robbers’! He drove the cheaters all the way out of the temple with a whip He took the time to make Himself (John 2:15)! The religious leaders, who probably received a part of the money that the cheaters made, were mad that Jesus ruined their business. 

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So when they asked Jesus who gave Him authority to do that (the permission and the right to clear the temple), He said He’d answer their question if they would answer His question first. Clever!

Who gave you permission?

Jesus asked them if John the Baptist preached and baptized people with God’s authority, or John just did it because he felt like it (Mark 11:30). The religious leaders knew all the regular people in Jerusalem and in Israel really liked John the Baptist and believed that God had given John the mission to preach and baptize. John was related to Jesus and baptized Jesus too! John’s preaching and baptizing really was God’s mission for him.

Now the leaders didn’t like John the Baptist either, because John preached that the leaders were leading the people of Israel badly and were using their powers just to make themselves rich and important. They didn’t want to say that John’s ministry was given by God because it would mean admitting he was right about the things he said about them. They were afraid of admitting they were wrong. (Mark 11:31)

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But they also didn’t want to say that John was not sent by God, because then all the people in Jerusalem would get mad at them. They were afraid of what people would think of them. (Mark 11:32) They only told Jesus, “we don’t know”, even though they did know. So Jesus said He wouldn’t tell them Who gave Him authority either!

How about you?

You might be afraid of obeying Jesus’ voice for the same reason the religious leaders were. Are you afraid of admitting you were wrong to do or say something, because you know that Jesus said it was wrong? Or are you afraid of obeying Him because you’re afraid of what people will think of you? Often Jesus’ commands in the Bible aren’t popular with most people, or His commands are even hated by people who don’t follow Him. 

But 2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (emphasis added) So if you’re afraid to follow the voice of Jesus, pray and ask Him to help you obey Him through the fear, and that He would give you peace in your obedience.

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