(Not so) Easy for Jesus to Say
September 25, 2023 anno Domini
Do not be anxious about your life. It’s a little stronger in Greek. Stop being anxious about your life. Quit worrying. Knock it off. Well, Jesus, that’s easy for you to say. You’re God after all. It’s not like you need to worry about cancer or your marriage imploding or a recession. I wouldn’t worry if I was God. Cancer – touch it and it’s gone. Divorce – who wouldn’t want to be married to God. Recession – I could be like the government and print money out of nothing.
But we forget one thing – Jesus is not a god like you would be. He never used His being God for His own advantage. He didn’t use His power to remove His troubles, heal His afflictions, destroy His stressors. He single-mindedly served His Father’s will and that meant He worked, served, suffered, and died for one purpose; You and your salvation.
Saint Isaiah the prophet tells us that on the cross Christ would bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. Isaiah makes it sound like Jesus knew first-hand what it feels like to endure cancer, suffer dementia, or be afflicted with COPD. He knew the pain of being hated by people who were supposed to love Him. He was cast aside as worthless. People wished Him dead. He was despised and rejected by men. Worse than our sorrow Isaiah tells us He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. What’s the worst you’ve ever felt for one of your sins? When Your wife caught you watching porn. When you got a DUI and spent a weekend in jail. When you lied to your parents but they already knew the truth. That is nothing compared to what you deserved for that sin. If you want something to be anxious about – be anxious about eternal punishment. Don’t fear food and clothing for your body, fear God casting your soul into hell for your sins.
On the other hand, don’t be anxious at all. Jesus took hell for you. In those hours on the cross, in the mystery of God’s justice and mercy – Jesus of Nazareth suffered all of hell for all sinners. He did what He said through Isaiah the Prophet. Repent if you think it is easy for Jesus to say, “Don’t be anxious about your life.” The night before He died, He suffered a known medical condition caused by stress on the human body where blood comes out of your sweat glands. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, His human soul and body in deep turmoil as He contemplated what was coming tomorrow. Not just the whip and the humiliation and the nails, not suffocating to death, but He was going to hell. The Father would cut off His Son from the land of the living, so you could be brought back to life as God’s child.
Jesus makes this point the reason for you not to be anxious. You are different than the birds and the flowers. You are not merely a creation of the Creator; you are a child of your heavenly Father.
The birds were created by God on the fifth day of creation. They filled the skies that God created on the second day. Birds don’t have deep freezers in their nests. They don’t shrink wrap their food. Although a few of them hang out in the rafters at Menards I never see them buying their food there. They do not plant. They do not own combines. They don’t worry that cream cheese is $3.45. Yet, what do we know about the birds. God feeds them. God even keeps the Mississippi open around Saint Cloud, so a bunch of geese don’t have to fly south for the winter. But here’s the clincher on Jesus’ anti-anxiety push. Your heavenly Father feeds the birds. Are you not of more value than they? You are not a bird. You are a child of God. God is your Father in heaven. He sent His Son to die for you that in baptism you might die to sin and rise to a new life – life in Christ, life as a son of your heavenly Father.
From the birds we go to the flowers. From the fifth day of creation, we go back to day three when God formed all the vegetation that is on the earth – broccoli, asparagus, Azaleas, Mums, and all those tiny wildflowers that you don’t even notice in the ditches and cracks of your driveway, but you should. Why? Because the tiniest of those flowers is dressed better than King Solomon in all His glory. I have never been to Gruber’s quilt shop, and I may have been in Joanne’s Fabrics once, but the flowers don’t shop there. They don’t buy Singer and Bernina sewing machines. They don’t sew quilts or knit sweaters, and yet God clothes them. Oh, you of little faith. The flowers are alive, but not alive like you. They are beautiful, but you are created in the image of God. You are the beloved of your Father and the bridegroom of His Son. When the Son of God was wed to human flesh in the person of Jesus it was for one purpose. To robe you in the white garment of Christ’s righteousness. This garment was spun in the story of the Old Testament and knit together in Mary’s womb. The garment of your forgiveness is white as the wool of the Lamb of God and mysteriously made clean by the blood of that Lamb.
Jesus begins His admonition against anxiety by addressing the impossibility of divided duty. No one can serve two masters. That is what the Greek word for anxiety means – to have a divided mind. I saw a church billboard in Sauk Rapids where I live that said, “Don’t worry! Be happy.” That might work for the Lion King and Walt Disney, but that doesn’t cut it for the anxious souls I care for. Why are you anxious? Because you live six days a week in front of anxiety producing screens. President Trump is an insurrectionist and President Biden has dementia. If the Democrats don’t win America as we know it will be lost. Or is that the Republicans? You look with envy on the rich who live on Martha’s Vineyard, but do you think they weren’t worried when 50 immigrants landed at their airport? But you don’t have to look out there. You could look in the mirror or at your mychart or your statement from Charles Schwab.
Hear the word of Jesus – you cannot serve God and money. You will lose everything. Your prized possessions will end up in a Tommy Kramer dumpster because your kids think its junk. Some people lose everything before they die. All people lose everything when they die. Here’s what Jesus says, “Don’t be anxious.” Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. He’s taken care of tomorrow. He sweated blood in the garden about tomorrow. Every sin, every sorrow, every grief, every loss, on the cross Jesus endured it, because you’re not just another creature in God’s creation. You are a human made in the image of God. Even though your sin corrupted that image Christ has forgiven your sin, redeemed you from being a brute creature to be once again a human child of your heavenly Father.
Don’t think these are easy words for me to say. I suffer from anxiety, anxiety about the church, about the troubled souls here at Redeemer, anxiety as a pastor, a husband, a father. I worry about my investments, my possessions, my health. What do I need? The same thing you need. Less of the world and more of the Word. Less eyes on the prizes and more open ears to Jesus. Less conversations on coveting and more prayers for contentment. Less me and more Jesus. We should not be surprised that we are anxious after worshiping at the world’s altar. The Devil divides our minds to serve two masters, but it cannot be done. You can only serve one Master, and may it be the good and gracious Master, your heavenly Father who values you like no other, and who will keep you forever, in the name of Jesus. Amen.