“What Jesus Said About Anxiety”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. I want to ask you a rather challenging question. Do you worry? It is easy for us to say no, but I wonder if most of us do worry. You know, oftentimes I say, “Well, I don't worry.” And yet, my times of anxiety lead to worry. We tend to worry about major issues, as well as things which really do not matter. But to some degree or another, worry affects all of us. On occasion, we might even worry about what happens if we die. We become anxious or uncertain about the future. Yes, anxiety and worry are things that affect many people. And yet Jesus taught His disciples, and teaches us, to not worry, nor to be anxious about anything. The apostle Paul wrote it this way, in Philippians 4, verses 6 and 7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” Oh, I wish I could practice that teaching more than what I do. Perhaps you feel the same way. On today's lesson on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will notice Jesus’ response to some of His disciples who were anxious about the future. They did not know what was going to happen and they needed some reassurance that things would be okay. This lesson, entitled “What Jesus Said About Anxiety,” will hopefully give us some things to consider, as we deal with all of the uncertainty and problems we currently face. His words will also remind us we are not alone, and there is an eternal home waiting for us. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible, as we study together these important words of Jesus.
We are living in some very uncertain and challenging times, and that has been the case for quite a while. We are facing problems many of us have never before experienced. Natural disasters and health pandemics, social unrest, and all of the suffering and the loss that go with those and other such things, cause a great deal of anxiety. We ask questions like, “Well, how long is this going to last? How do we overcome these problems? What does the future look like?” You know, questions about the uncertainty of life have been around for a long time. And, no doubt, the issues and the problems may be different from year to year, but the questions remain the same. Toward the end of Jesus' ministry, here upon the earth, the same thing was happening. Just prior to His death and crucifixion, He shared the Feast of the Passover with His disciples for the very last time; and that story is recorded for us in all four of the Gospel accounts; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus sent His disciples into the city of Jerusalem with the instruction to find a place where they could share that feast together; and the disciples found a room which they could do that, and we have called it the upper room. And it was in that upper room where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, according to John chapter 13. And as He did that, He told them, “I have done this as an example, and you should do as I have done to you.” He also announced, during that Feast of the Passover, there would be one of them who would betray Him. Well, that was Judas. And once Judas recognized that he was the one, he immediately left the room and began to set in motion the things that would soon take place. And it was also during that evening meal when Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the night was over. But we know the rest of that story, too; don't we? Peter denied knowing, or being with, Jesus on three separate occasions that evening. And once he did the rooster crowed and Jesus looked at Peter. Well, during those events, Jesus also shared something that caused a great deal of anxiety among these disciples. He told them He would not be with them very much longer, that He was going away. Well now, that caused fear and anxiety in the hearts of these men. And Peter, perhaps representing all of the disciples, asked the obvious question, in verse 26, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied with these words: “Where I am going, you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow Me later.” Just imagine the anxiety these disciples must have felt. Perhaps they asked questions among themselves; like, who will now be our leader; who will solve the problems when we get into a mess; where do we go from here? Yes, these disciples were concerned about their future. They did not know what was going to happen. There was fear. There was anxiety. There was some uncertainty. Well, no doubt Jesus realized that and He offered these words of reassurance to them, beginning with verse 1 of chapter 14: <“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”> In the midst of these disciples’ anxiety, Jesus offered some comforting and some reassuring words. He called upon them to put their faith in Him. Well, He stated the obvious. He said, “You believe in God, well, do the same with Me. Believe in Me, that I am the Son of God and that I am My Father's representation here upon this earth.” Yes, their faith and their belief in the Lord God Almighty was to be exhibited in Jesus, Himself. Now, even though Jesus would soon be put to death upon the cross, He asked them to put their faith in Him; and that really doesn't make much sense, does it? Why would Jesus ask His disciples to believe in Him if He was soon going away? Well, what the disciples perhaps did not realize was that Jesus was the key to their destiny. You know, the disciples thought their future depended up on them doing something after He was gone, taking over the ministry and working and carrying on the work that Jesus had established. But what they failed to realize was their future, their destiny, depended not on what they were going to do, but on what Jesus was about to do; and that was seen with His death on the cross and then His resurrection from the grave. In Matthew chapter 22, some religious leaders asked Jesus about the resurrection of the dead. And they presented to Him a case, a situation, about seven men, or brothers, who at one time or another had been married to the very same woman. And they asked the question, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? Well, notice the reply Jesus gave to them on that occasion, beginning with verse 29 of Matthew chapter 22: <“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead —have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”> It is that last phrase I want us to consider for just a moment. Jesus said, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” When Jesus said that to those people, and no doubt He had said the very same thing to His disciples, He was trying to get across the point that their future depended upon a relationship with God, who was alive right now; that He was living and He was well, He was active in their lives, just like He is active in our lives, still today. And their future depended up on a daily walk, or a daily relationship, spiritually with God; just like they had that daily walk and relationship with Jesus, physically, throughout that public ministry. You know, Jesus’ teaching throughout His public ministry seemed to always revolve around the question, what are you doing with Me, today? What are you going to do with Me and My teaching? How will you respond to the signs and the miracles and all of the teaching that I am sharing with you? Perhaps we could even say it like this: Do you have a relationship with Me, just like you do with the God of this world? Do you believe in Me like you believe in the Lord God Almighty? Perhaps those were some of the questions Jesus would ask us if He were here today. He might even say, like He said to these disciples here, since you believe in God, then believe also in Me. Or, He might even phrase it this way: Are you believing in Me while you still have the opportunity to do so? You know, by making such statements, Jesus was giving some reassurance to His disciples. They were confused. They were challenged. They were full of anxiety, perhaps even fear, when Jesus told them He was going away. And now Jesus gives them a solution. He simply states, just believe in Me. Express your faith in Me, just like you are doing with God. Well, that very thing was emphasized just two verses later, here in John 14, when Jesus said these words, in verse 6: “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through Me.” In other words, you may believe in your Heavenly Father, but you will not see Him unless you believe in Me. Jesus said, I am the way that leads to the Father. I am the One who provides the life with the Father. I am the true way. And once you follow Me, once you believe in Me, then indeed, someday, you will see God. In John's Gospel, especially, we find many statements made by Jesus, inviting people to believe in Him. And that seemed to be at the very center of His message in His ministry. I think about those seven statements that we have in John's Gospel, that begin with His words, “I am.” Just like we notice here in verse 6, Jesus stated, “I am the way the truth and the life.” And He said other things that caused people to think about who Jesus was and what He offered to them. For example, He would say, “I am the light of the world,” or, “I am the resurrection of the dead.” But ultimately, Jesus wanted people to believe in Him. He wanted them to believe that indeed He had come from the Father, and what He said and what He did came from the Father, as well. John's Gospel has even been called the Gospel of Belief. And there is a summary statement, toward the end of that Gospel, that seems to summarize the overall message that John has, here in his Gospel. Listen to these words in chapter 20, verses 30 through 31: <Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this Book. 31 But these are written that you may believe -Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.> What a great summary message. Over and over again, John emphasized the importance of believing in Jesus as God's Son, the Messiah, the Anointed One, Jesus the Christ. Well, with those things in mind, we go back now to John chapter 14. Jesus told those disciples what would happen next. Not only were they to live a life of belief, or a life of faith, in Him, in the meantime, He would be doing His part; and it revolved around two specific things. It revolved around a place and a person. The place was His Father's house; and, His Father's house contained many rooms, as we just read a moment ago. Some versions of the Bible replace the word rooms with mansions, or apartments, a place of abode, a place to live. I don't know about you, but, when I think about a mansion I think about a beautiful and large house, perhaps three stories tall, sitting out on a beautiful hillside. And that hillside is just beautiful, filled with grass and flowers. And that home is immaculate, beautifully decorated, both outside and on the inside. In fact, there are some mansions that are no longer in use, but rather have been turned into a museum and people pay good money to go through that museum, or that house, and look at everything; the large rooms and the many bathrooms, the many bedrooms, the many living rooms that are contained in that mansion. And the whole idea behind it is, there is plenty of room for people to live in this house. Even today, just like it was in Jesus' day, the patriarch of a family, or the father of the family, would welcome his children to come back to live with him after they were married. He wanted them all under the same roof. And sometimes there were many people to take care of and the father would have to build on an apartment or a room so that that particular child would have a place to call his or her own. Well, that's the idea that Jesus conveys here in John chapter 14. He states that there will be room for all in His Father's house. He had in mind a place of permanence, a place that would last forever. “In my Father's house there are many rooms,” He stated. And that is emphasized again in places like Revelation chapter 21 and other passages that help describe heaven. And that is the place to which Jesus was referring. The second thing we notice, here in Jesus' statement, is that the person was Jesus, Himself. He, Himself, would make the preparations in that place. He would return, then, to gather all of those who had put their faith in Him. He would also be with those believers, Himself. Yes, Jesus was going away to prepare a wonderful place, far more wonderful than we could ever imagine, and His presence would always be there. Jesus would not have promised this if the disciples were not going to be there. In fact, that's what He stated. But their belief in God and their belief in Him, as God's Son, would secure their place in that eternal home. Jesus basically told these disciples in the midst of their anxiety, just as you can be sure I am going away, so you can be sure I am coming back; and when I do, you will be with Me. You know, these disciples could count on that. They knew that Jesus always spoke the truth. With complete confidence, they knew that if Jesus was going away that, indeed, He will return. We also can count on these words of Jesus, especially in the midst of times of anxiety and uncertainty. I think about the way the apostle Paul described it, in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, verse 16: <The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trumpet call of God.> And then go on to verse 17: <We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord, forever.> Two phrases there, the first one and the last one, the Lord Himself will come down from heaven. Jesus doesn't just send the angels to do His work for Him, but He leads the way. The angels come with Him. He, Himself, comes down to gather the believers. And then, the very last phrase, we will be with the Lord forever. We will be with Him. We will be in His presence, and in the Father's presence, for all time. Oh, everything revolved around Jesus' identity as God's Son and these disciples belief in Him. And no matter what the people had said about Jesus, no matter what was about to happen to Jesus, there was every reason to still believe in Him. Jesus was the disciples’ destiny. He was their future. And no matter how anxious they were, there was hope that someday they would be reunited with the Lord; and that would be their future. It revolved around a place called heaven and it revolved around a person named Jesus. When I think about heaven, when I think about these words of Jesus, here, I realize that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. You know, the events surrounding Jesus’ final days caused a great deal of anxiety among His disciples. They feared the Romans. The Romans made life difficult for the Jewish people. The Jews had to pay taxes to them. They feared for their lives. They feared that they would never see Jesus again. They feared that they would be left all alone in this world. And yet, through Jesus’ promise of a place and a person, their anxiety could be overcome. The times of anxiety in which we live today also cause a great deal of uncertainty. We fear for our health or for our relationships. We are anxious about our economy and so many other things that might keep us up at night. And much of which we are anxious about and fear are out of our control. There's nothing we can do about those things, and we have a choice to make. Do we live in fear and anxiety and worry, or, on the other hand, do we live with faith and trust in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. You know, times of anxiety can be eliminated when we hear and we fully believe the words that Jesus stated: Believe in Me and My Heavenly Father; believe I am preparing a place for you; believe I am coming back; and, believe I will be with you forever. And that is what Jesus calls upon us to do today, to put our complete faith and trust in Him. And like these disciples, our future destiny revolves around two things, a personal faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and a place that is prepared for all of those who live by that faith. My encouragement and my hope for you today is that you will believe in Jesus Christ and be prepared to receive that prepared place that Jesus has in store for you.
At one time or another, all of us have to visit a medical district, like this one, and to see a doctor. When I mention that, it gives us just a little bit of anxiety, doesn’t it? We’re anxious about seeing a doctor because we don’t know for sure what will happen. We immediately think about physical pain, or financial problems, or perhaps even long term issues. And some of that anxiety, or worry, comes as a result of not being able to trust the doctor, or to trust the medical procedures, or even to trust that the results which come back are true. Yes, we are anxious when we have to see a doctor. Jesus told us, in His public ministry, He is the Great Physician; and with that in mind, there is no need to be anxious or worry about anything. We know that Jesus, as the Great Physician, has our best interest at heart, and everything is going to go just fine. When we think about all the anxious moments and the uncertainty in the world in which we live today, it’s good to know that Jesus does have our back and to know that Jesus is working for our good, to accomplish wonderful things in our life. Next time you go to see a doctor, yes, you’re going to be a little bit anxious; but no matter what happens in this world, we can get rid of the anxiety and the worry because Jesus never leaves us. He never forsakes us. He never makes a mistake. And we can put all of our hope and our trust and our confidence in Him, as our Great Physician.
Thank you for tuning in to today's program. I trust this message, entitled “What Jesus Said About Anxiety,” gave us something to consider about living a life of faith in Him. If you are interested in hearing or viewing this message again, you can do so through our website: it is keytothekingdom.com. The lesson is available to download in written, audio or video format. Previous lessons are also on the website, and none of them require any kind of payment or commitment. Oh, I hope you will find those which will bless you spiritually. Short devotional thoughts and messages can also be found on the website; and, they are all designed to offer some spiritual encouragement and insight into everyday living. Information about our basic beliefs and reports on our mission work in India is there as well. Something we have offered for quite a while now is a free phone app. By downloading it, you can have direct access to everything on the website. I also invite you to follow us on Facebook®. Every week an inspirational thought is uploaded; which you can like and then share with others. We try to make good use of these media outlets and provide many different ways for you to access this ministry. It is our pleasure to share these weekly messages with you, and I do hope they are a blessing. Thank you again for tuning in to today's broadcast. I hope you'll tune in again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”