While the world has depicted Jesus as a soft, effeminate type, the truth is that he was a strong, fearless man of courage. It took courage to knock over the tables of the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12), courage to stand up for the way of God in the face of persecution by the world and the religious system of his day, and courage to go to the cross when he knew the great pain, torment and humiliation that awaited him (Luke 22:42). God goes to great lengths to tell us not to be afraid, saying in 2 Timothy 1:7 that he has not given us a “spirit of fear but one of power and of love and of self-control.”
When God commissioned Joshua to lead the children of Israel into The Promised Land in the face of the great and powerful Canaanites, he told him to “be strong and of good courage” three times. In fact, God actually commanded the children of Israel to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9).
Courage is one of the many attributes we receive upon being indwelt with The Holy Spirit. Peter is a prime example of this. Before receiving The Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Peter had cowardly tendencies. After walking with Jesus for nearly three years, becoming a close confidant of his and witnessing his miracles, Peter’s fear actually led him to deny that he even knew Jesus (John 18:15-27). But after he was filled with The Holy Spirit (Acts 2), Peter stood up and boldly preached before thousands of Jews that the Jesus they rejected and crucified was the Lord and Christ of both the world and the Jews.
When we rely on God, putting our faith and trust in him, we can walk in the strength and courage he has given us and indeed commands us to exhibit. God has called us to be men of faith, not men of fear, for as the Psalmist says in 34:4, God “delivered him from all his fears.”
As we seek to walk in the bravery God has called us to, it can be helpful to remember the words of Nelson Mandela, who said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Who better to conquer fear than we men of God; we who have been declared “more than conquerors” by the creator of all (Romans 8:37).
I. Contrary to his worldly depiction, Jesus was strong, fearless and courageous
A. He knocked over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple
B. He stood up for God against the world and the false religious leaders
C. He willingly accepted the pain and torture of being nailed to the cross because it was God's will
II. God commanded Joshua and the children of Israel to be "strong and courageous"
A. Being courageous is a command for people of God
III. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be courageous
A. Witness the difference between Peter before and after he received the Holy Spirit
IV. The key to courage is putting our complete faith and trust in God
V. Nelson Mandela, one of the world's great examples of courage, has a powerful quote about courage
POSSIBLE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS/TOPICS
I. Why is Jesus so often portrayed as soft and effeminate?
II. What was Jesus really like?
III. What are some times in our life when we need to be courageous? What are some areas where we need to display courage?
IV. What courage is and what courage is not
V. What can we learn from the fact that God commands us to be courageous?
A. Answer: that he has also empowered us to be courageous
VI. What things or obstacles keep us from being as courageous as we should be?
VII. What are some ways we can overcome our fears?
VIII. How can we help each other be courageous?