OVercoming the Fear of Man  Mark 11:27-33; Part of the Walking with Christ series.

Overcoming the Fear of Man

Mark 11:27-33

The fear of man is a common problem. This is true of my life. As I began to read this powerful encounter of Jesus, my flawed life flashed before my mind. I wondered, "How many times have I failed my Lord and those around me because I gave in to the fear of man?"

Discovering my fear of man was like excavating bones from my pastHumbled. Convicted. I needed to sit still and pray for a while. God was starting a new work in my life by excavating buried bones of the past. The dead stuff needed to be removed so that I could properly live before God and man.

The fear of man ensnares us into compromising what God would have us otherwise do. The compromise is made through different thoughts, words or actions ending up in faulty decisions and consequences.

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and scribes, and elders came to Him, and began saying to Him, ?By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?   (Mark 11:27-28)


Jesus' disciples saw their Master face at least four intimidating circumstances in this one encounter. He didn't flinch.

  • The city - Jerusalem
    There is no greater place that a person would want to gain respect and fame than Jerusalem. If one is received well there, he is received well by the nation. Here was the chance of a lifetime to show Himself great.

  • The holy place - the temple of God
    Was there a more austere place to show ones knowledge of God than the temple of God? By being accepted by man and conforming to man's wisdom, He could show Himself to be holy and 'close to God.'

  • Confronted - by the chief priests, scribes and elders
    This situation screams for compromise. Each of the three most respected groups - chief priests, scribes and elders– was written in the plural. At the minimum, six men all adorned in their flowing robes came up to challenge Jesus. There probably were many more. Outnumbered. Outflanked. Out-educated. Compromise was begging Jesus to conform for acceptance.

  • Hostile - a challenging question
    Their question went straight to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus had numerous ways to compromise and make these guys favorable to Him. He could have said, "We are working for the same God. Sorry if there were any misunderstandings."

The fear of man has at times been a real snare in my own life. Jesus, however, was not shaken, scared, sensitized or silenced. He was not shamed into cowardliness. But filled with the Spirit, responded with wisdom making his counter-challenge.

Application: I need a fear of God that would null any intimidation from others.

Jesus said that He would answer their question if they first answered His question. In so much that they boldly asked Him a question, out of politeness they had to answer Jesus' question. Jesus asked,

And Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me." And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From men’" --they were afraid of the multitude, for all considered John to have been a prophet indeed. And answering Jesus, they said, ?We do not know.? And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things".
          (Mark 11:29-33)

"Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer me."

Their private discussion fills the last verses. One can almost see these three groups huddled together offering different suggestions. Christ's wisdom is at least seen in three areas.

  • Jesus did not share God's beautiful truth with skeptics

  • Jesus devised a question that would have them analyze the key issues, in this case it was authority.

  • Jesus confronted them with their own guilt.
    • If John the Baptist was from heaven (God), why did they not respect him and take his advice?
    • They themselves were afraid of man.

Application: Ask God for much greater wisdom to meet the stubbornness and skepticism of today's secular leaders.

The Spirit of God has been excavating my soul's past. With each shovelful, out came another 'fear of man' bone. I was so humbled at the many times I had disobeyed God and let man down. This solemn time seemed to merge into a constant life of failing God and man. It seemed that I would need a tractor to do the excavating! I am all the more amazed at the great grace of God. Praise Him!

Application: The leaders refused to examine Jesus' challenge. I need God's grace to hate sin to the degree that I would always examine my life in light of God's Word. I refuse to ignore my guilt or fear of man. They were not willing to let God's Word dig in their own heart and therefore had no answer from Jesus. They had no Word from God. They were caught in their own snare of intimidation.

I realize that I had learned intimidation when young. When people intimidated me, I became afraid of man. Later I would use these same belligerent techniques that worked with me on others. Long lasting habits of raising my voice, using threatening words, grimacing my face, etc. must by God's grace be broken. They are used to intimidate rather than train. Should I be surprised when my own family members start using these techniques with their siblings?! One generational's sins are passed to another's.

May the grave be dug and filled with the last of these intimidating tactics.

Walking with Jesus: Abiding in Christ Series

Impossible Love
Mark 8:1-9

Jesus responded to their needs. The disciples responded to their resources.

Genuine Friendship
John 15:15-16

I don't want my Heavenly Father to treat me the way I treated my son!

A Vial of Love
Mark 14:1-9

Our relationship with God is to take priority over our works.

Following is Not Easy
Mark 10:46-52

I wanted Jesus to be with me, but I didn't really want to be with Him.

Listening Carefully
Mark 7:17-18

The Lord wants me to sit down and listen to Him.

A Faith that Counts

I was not sure how many prayers I have absolutely wasted.

Staying Focused
Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus found these planned retreats can be rudely interrupted.

Discovering Treasures
Mark 10:21-27

What were they amazed and later astonished at?

Worth it all!
Mark 10:28-31

His disciples would often if not always be required to make a sacrifice of one kind or another.

The Capsizing of Religion
Mark 3:1-6

Many churches just wouldn't want Jesus attend!

Family of Jesus
Mark 03.31-35

If you or I were part of this crowd, wouldn't we do the same thing as they?

Growing Confidence in Jesus
Mark 7:31-37

What Jesus I am following?

A Word on Christian Suffering
John 15:1-2

We didn't do anything wrong to deserve such pruning! John 15:1-2

Genuine Worship
Mark 12:28-34

Anything not built on this one command is best left in the periphery of life.

Dreams to Dust 911
Mark 13:1-3

Jesus felt compelled to take their dreams to the dust.

A Faith of Action
Mark 11:27-33

The world starts getting concerned when the church starts practicing its faith.

The Felling of Fame
Mark 2:1-2

Stopped in my tracks. Time to deal with my desire for fame.

Perspective on Worry
Luke 12:25-26

We are really surprised at Jesus' comments about our worry.

Overcome Fear of Man
Mark 11:27-39

Outnumbered. Outflanked. Out-educated. Compromise was begging Jesus to conform for acceptance.

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Paul J. Bucknell

Biblical Foundations for Freedom


For more discussion on the Fear of God and of man, click here.