We live in a time and culture where there is little fear of the Lord. The world around us would largely scoff at the very idea of fearing a Deity, and even in the church the concept of the fear of God is so misunderstood that it is rarely displayed. Some even go so far as to excuse their continued practice of sin by saying, “I know it is wrong, but I also know that my sin is covered, and God will forgive me.” This attitude dangerously presumes on grace, displays no concept of how heinous sin is, and shows a total lack of the fear of the Lord.

Scripture repeatedly declares the importance of fearing God. There are benefits in fearing Him, and terrible consequences for failure to do so. Even though we have been redeemed and no longer need to fear facing His wrath we are still creatures approaching an almighty, all holy sovereign Deity, and as such we need to be brought to a deeper understanding of what it means to fear the Lord. This need is evident because even Jesus, who was always without sin and one with the Father, still lived His life in the fear of the Lord. If this is true of Him, how dare we do less!

When Isaiah prophesied about the character and nature of the coming Messiah, he says of the Christ, “he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Therefore, we must start here with the understanding the scripture clearly states that Jesus not only feared the Lord, but delighted to do so. The question is no longer, “Did He show the fear of the Lord?” but “How is it evidenced?” What in Jesus’ ways with the Father show us His delight in fearing Him, and how does this cause us to be amazed and worship Him from our hearts?

It helps if we define the fear of the Lord. In many ways it makes sense that we finite creatures would fear God. He is holy and we are sinful. He is all powerful and we can’t even determine whether we draw our next breath. God is beyond our control, beyond our understanding, and beyond anything we have ever experienced. We see the most righteous of men, men such as Daniel, Isaiah, and John, fall on their faces, undone by His presence. But for Jesus, who has always been one with the Father, God would not be fearsome to Him in the same way as He would be to any other man. Perhaps an insight into the kind of fear Jesus had for the Father can be found in the phrasing of Hebrews 5:7, where it says Jesus’ prayers were heard because of His “reverent submission.”

To fear God is to believe His word and His revelation about who He is and what He plans to do, then to conform our lives to that truth. Jesus knew the Father best, and so “feared” Him most—that is, He believed, He KNEW to the core of His being, the holiness of God and the need for justice against rebellion and sin. Jesus also knew the depths of the love of God and the lengths to which He would go to save us from His wrath against our sinfulness. Both the holiness and love of God delighted Jesus. He fully and enthusiastically concurred with the Father’s plan to satisfy His justice, to show forth the wonder of His wisdom and mercy at the cross, and to display His love. He reverently submitted to all that the Father desired for Him to do in order to bring it about.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries