Remember Daniel? He’s the one in the lion’s den. Daniel’s story is about God’s people in captivity. They’re in Babylon. And Daniel and his friends show that they can stay true to God even when things look bad.
Things like being thrown into a lion’s den. Or being thrown into a fiery furnace. Or when it looks like all sorts of monsters are coming after the people of God. In chapter seven Daniel has a dream about a winged lion, a bear with tusks, a four-headed leopard, and a gigantic monster with ten horns. These monsters are making war on the people of God.
You may look at the world today like that. The people of God are getting hammered on every side. You may think the government isn’t doing what it should to protect Christians. You may see that a secular world view is taking over. You may be worried about who the next president will be or if the next Supreme Court appointee will tip the balance to the liberal side. You may notice that church attendance is declining. Monsters on every side.
Jesus’ disciples felt the same way. The Roman government had taken control of their land. The Christians were being moved to the margins of society. When Matthew wrote his gospel they were being thrown out of the synagogues. They didn’t fit with the Jewish religion anymore. They didn’t fit with the Roman government. Monsters were making war with them on every side.
They think Jesus has come to rescue them by setting up a kingdom and crushing the Romans. We know that because when he told them he was going to die and on the third day be raised they only heard the word “die” and stopped listening. They didn’t much like his game plan.
And they forgot Daniel’s vision. In it “one like the son of man” comes and is given “dominion and glory and a kingdom.” Jesus’ favorite name for himself was “son of man.” He wasn’t being secretive about who he was. He was saying “I’m the one Daniel dreamed about.”
We want power. We don’t want death on a cross so much. That’s not what Peter signed up for. And it may not be what we signed up for. We sign up for power, don’t we?
- If we follow Jesus, then our world will be set right.
- If we have enough faith, then Jesus will heal us.
- If we tithe, then the blessing of God will be showered down on us and that “blessing” is typically defined as “we’ll give some money and in return God will give us more money.”
- If we get the right staff and the right marketing plan our church will grow quickly.
- If we get the right politicians in office they will protect us and our way of life.
Daniel and Jesus would have us know that we don’t have to be afraid. Even when monsters are attacking us on every side. Even when our leader is being delivered over, beaten, and hung on a cross. We are people who don’t need the government or anyone else to protect us. God does that.
On the cross it looked like evil won. On the third day it looked like love won. So don’t be afraid.
There’s a line that is often misquoted from G.K. Chesterton. As best I can find the original line is put this way: “Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”
Another way of saying Chesterton is: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
Let’s be people of faith, not fear. Let’s be people that follow.
Question: What dragons need to be defeated in your life?