"Cheer up," they told me, "things could be worse."
So I cheered up—and sure enough, things did get worse. In contrast to man’s well
meaning, but empty phrases, when Christ tells us to cheer up, there is every good reason
to do so. On at least three occasions, He told his disciples to "Be of good
cheer," then immediately followed it with the reason why. Christ gives us three
powerful cheers from God for three primary fears of man.
The most compelling fear of any informed, intelligent person is fear of
the Punishment of God. God’s assessment of man is, "There is none that
doeth good, no, not one." (Psa.14:3) He warns us of a terrifying judgment day when
the doomed will hear Him say, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,
prepared for the devil and his angels... these shall go away into everlasting punishment.
"Be of good cheer;" Christ told the paralytic, "thy sins
be forgiven thee." (Matt.9:2) For the ultimate of fears, there is the ultimate of
reasons to be of good cheer: Pardon through Christ. Because of the sacrificial
death of Christ on the cross, unconditional forgiveness of sins is available! For the one
who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, let this fact put everything else into
perspective. All temporal, personal concerns should fade into trivial insignificance when
compared with the fact that "I’m forgiven. Praise God, I’m forgiven!"
In the light of "Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" let vanish every
looming anxiety: My sins are gone! I’m a child of God! My future is Heaven!
The English phrase "Be of good cheer" is translated from a
single Greek word, "tharseo" with the combined meaning of "Be of good
cheer; Be of good comfort; Be of good courage." With knowledge of sin forgiven, we
can be joyful, consoled and unafraid.
The Lord and His disciples had had a long, hard day. Christ told His
disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee while He went to a mountain to pray. A violent storm
blew up and soon the disciples were rowing for their lives. Then, of all things, a
"ghost" showed up and the disciples screamed in terror. All of us face the fear
of the Perils of Life: adverse circumstances, work stress, job loss, loss of a
loved one, ill health, failure of an important school exam or other challenge.... Such
fears can be overwhelming. The disciples, in response to their terrified cries, heard a
familiar, reassuring voice, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."
(Matt.14:27) For this second basic fear, the cheer is the Presence of Christ. No
matter what the circumstance, "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake
thee." (Heb.13:5) The Lord Jesus Christ is able to change every adversity but if in
His wisdom He chooses not to, we can rest in His sustaining presence. "Fear thou not;
for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will
help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Isa.
The Greek word, "tharseo" is in the present tense. The
comfort that we experience from the presence of Christ is for the here and now, not the
ill defined future. We can rest in it today.
A third and sometimes very real fear is Persecution by Man.
Since the world hates Christ, it will also hate His followers. John 16:33 records our
Lord’s statement of fact to His disciples: "In the world ye shall have
tribulation." He immediately follows it with: "but be of good cheer; I have
overcome the world" The third cheer is the Power of Christ. God is in control,
not man. When Pilate said to the Lord, "knowest thou not that I have power to crucify
thee, and have power to release thee?" Jesus replied, "Thou couldest have no
power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." (John 19:10-11)
David’s recognition of God’s power gave him great courage: "The Lord is my
light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom
shall I be afraid?"
When God in His sovereign power allows a child of His to be unjustly
persecuted, it is for a purpose: to bring glory to God. "The Scripture saith unto
Pharaoh, even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew My power in
thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth." (Rom.9:17)
The word, "tharseo" is in the imperative mood, stating a
command not a suggestion. But Christ does not simply command us to be of good cheer, He
gives us logical reasons we can be.
No one has better reason to be of good cheer than the child of God!