Three Cheers!

"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. (Matt.25:41,46)

"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. 41:10)

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!