Jesus on Worry

What does the Bible say about worry? It actually says plenty, but here are a couple of quick thoughts. In wrapping up this study of Jesus’ questions, I noticed John 21:22 where He answers Peter’s pointed question concerning John:

“If I want him [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow Me.” John 21:22 NIV

Basically, Jesus tells Peter, “Don’t worry about it, stay focused.” Then later He answers a question about the Kingdom in a similar fashion:

“It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority.” Acts 1:7 NKJV

These statements, along with the “do not worry” section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34 paint a picture of how we should view worry. 

I. It’s not of God 

Jesus specifically tells us not to worry (actually several times). The tough part is acting on that truth. If you’re like me, you can’t just flip a switch, and never worry again, but Paul helps us out. In Philippians 4:6, we see:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

So instead of focusing on the circumstances, be proactive: 

  • Pray through the many things you’re thankful for
  • Honestly discuss with God your anxieties (He already knows anyway)
  • Ask for His help with your thought pattern and not just the situation 

Once this mode of prayer is set in motion, verse 7 promises “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind.” That’s a great trade. We give Him our worry and He gives us peace! 

II. Narrow Your Focus 

In the John passage, we see Peter distracted by questions regarding John, which illustrates a frequent source of our worries. We look around and begin the process of drawing conclusions from comparing our life to others. It’s not within my power to make life “fair”, and making a list of inequities only fuels more of the same. Think about it, how many things in life do we REALLY control? 

Webster describes control this way: 1. to regulate 2. to exercise authority over 

Even those of us with children, students, or employees under our “authority” only have a limited amount of control. Only God maintains ultimate authority. So as a follower of Christ, here are two things I take away from these verses: 

  • I need to quit trying to look over God’s shoulder – Even if I could see what He’s looking at, I probably wouldn’t understand the language or diagrams anyway! He has reserved certain work for Himself and assigned certain work to me. 
  • I need to relax – Acts 1:8 speaks of the gospel being carried around the world, but it completely hinges on the power of the Holy Spirit. The same is true in my daily walk. I must rely on the Holy Spirit’s lead and remember Jesus’ words: 

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

Series: “The Questions of Jesus” – Conclusion

When Life Causes Second Guessing

Ever asked the “Where’d I go wrong?” questions? Of course most of us have…it’s an old human habit. Sometimes it’s productive, but other times not. In Luke we see just such a conversation, however in this one Jesus shows up for an awesome teaching moment. Let’s look:

13Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15So it was, while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” 18Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” 19And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” – Luke 24:13-24 NKJV

I. Their Dilemma

They “talked and reasoned” trying to figure out what had just happened. Not only had there been dramatic events the previous week, but some disciples now were reporting visions of angels and Jesus’ body missing. What did it mean? What now? Those are natural questions to ask, and there are a couple of themes in their comments I can relate to. For example: 

  • “Our hopes may have been too high” – in verse 21 Cleopas explains that they really hoped Jesus was the One. Of course He was, but they didn’t see it…yet. How often do I “guard” my level of trust in the Lord, instead of simply taking Him at His word? Seeing proof and believing is good, but faith means holding on to His promises and trusting in the unseen (Heb. 11:1). 
  • “Maybe it’s time to move on” – I believe the two were genuine followers of Christ, but had difficulty reconciling His preaching versus recent events. They’d left Jerusalem feeling it all went wrong because Jesus didn’t deliver what they expected (physical political kingdom). He actually delivered far more, but it took time to see the connection. Anxiousness breeds carelessness. Relax, God is still in control. 

II. Jesus’ Answer 

After listening to Cleopas, Jesus responds:

25Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  26Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” –NKJV

Can you imagine listening to the King of Glory explain history? Wow! Patiently and systematically, He started at the beginning (“Moses” means his writings Gen-Deut.) and walked them through. I believe He still works the same way today (within the context of what He’s already revealed to us-the Bible). As He spoke, it produced several things:

  • Fire in the heart (v.32)
  • Hunger for more (v.29)
  • Clear understanding of circumstances (v.31) 

Practical Application: 

There are many overarching principles in scripture for daily living but we have to read it for the words to be integrated into our ethos. As believers, it’s easy to be distracted by various things, but a few strategic minutes can make a big difference in your day. Here’s a suggestion, try praying through these three truths daily: 

  • Acknowledge that God is sovereign over everything (Psalm 71)
  • Accept that He really, truly, specifically loves you (I John 4:7-11)
  • Agree that He always has your best interest at heart (Jeremiah 29:11) 

In other words, He loves us, wants the best for us, and is always in control…what else do we really need?

Series: “The Questions of Jesus” – Lesson XI

How do you view the Cross?

Recently there was a fictional movie about an assassination. In the film, the story kept starting over from the beginning. Each time it was from a different person’s perspective…interesting thought. Oddly enough, we see the same thing with the crucifixion of Jesus. Consider the scene:

39And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42“He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” – Matthew 27:39-50 NKJV

The First View: “The Mockers”

There are always those who know enough to ridicule, but not enough to understand. The comment in verse 43 is a reference to Psalm 22:8

“He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue him.”

However, they ignored the later verses of the same Psalm (16-18),

“They pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. They look and stare at me. They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Amazing isn’t it. The truth was right in front of them, but mocking attitudes completely hid the obvious.

The Second View: “The Confused”

These folks were watching, but couldn’t figure out what they were witnessing.

47Some of those who stood there…said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” 48Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.”

Often there are people just trying to figure it out. The ones mentioned in verse 47 probably didn’t understand Hebrew and hearing “Eli” jumped to conclusions that Jesus was calling for Elijah. They had heard all about Elijah in the old stories, so maybe they thought, “He’s delirious and calling on Elijah for help.” Of course that wasn’t the case. Their reaction was to Jesus quoting a Psalm…verse 1 of the same Psalm just mentioned (22),

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I like to think some of this group eventually “got it”; becoming followers and part of the early church.

The Third View: “The Redeemed”

Since we can look at events surrounding the Cross through the lens of scripture, we have help understanding how it fits together. II Corinthians 5:21 says Jesus became sin for us. For generations, the Hebrew people had symbolically placed their sins on sacrificial animals, but now a worthy sacrifice was positioned to literally bare the sins of the entire world…leading to a crushing transaction:

45Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.”

Resulting in:

  • The Transfer – Like a file being downloaded, sin was poured out on the perfect Son of God. For three hours creation grieved in darkness and broke under the strain (earthquakes and stone breaking v.51). Just as Romans 5:8 says, “…while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Becoming the Curse – Galatians 3:13 tells us that Christ became cursed in our stead, meaning the hopelessness from trying to keep the Law is gone forever. He satisfied the perfect standard of the Law on our behalf!
  • Open Access – Verse 51 of Matthew 27 describes the temple veil surrounding the Most Holy Place being torn in two. As redeemed children of God we can now enter His presence through Jesus our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).

So what’s your view? I sincerely hope you have trusted Christ, and know His peace. If you do, thankfully share it!

Series: “The Questions of Jesus” – Lesson X

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