Jesus on Fear | Matthew 6.25-34 (Snoh)
April 20, 2014 Series: The King Has Come | Matthew
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 6:25–6:34
INTRO | EASTER WELCOME
Happy Resurrection. This is our first Easter service as a church here in Snohomish. In chapter 24 of his gospel, Doctor Luke records a story about two men walking toward the town of Emmaus on the first Easter. It’s Sunday, the Passover celebration in Jerusalem has ended, and they are walking home full of grief. They were disciples of Jesus—the man who they though would be king had, three days earlier, been betrayed, arrested, falsely accused, and murdered. They thought he was the messiah come to overthrow Rome—they had no idea what Jesus intended to truly save them from. As they are walking, a resurrected Jesus walks up next to them. He hides his identity as his disciples share their grief over the tragedy of the crucifixion and the reported “story” of his resurrection. Eventually, incognito Jesus rebukes them for not believing their Bible and proceeds to give them the greatest Bible lesson ever—beginning with Genesis, Jesus teaches them how all Scripture pointed to his death and resurrection. All that to say, it might surprise you that we do not feel it necessary to have a “special” sermon on Easter Sunday to make sure we talk about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—every sermon is about the cross and the empty tomb.
WHAT IS FEAR?
We’re in Matthew. Last week, Jesus preached about the foolishness of laying up treasures in this world because they tire out and we tire of them. He went even further to talk about the danger of money and possessions, arguing that you cannot serve two masters but that you will serve one. Greed is more sinister than other sins. We immediately know when we commit adultery, but few of us readily admit (or even see) when we have become greedy or materialistic. Jesus says that either the things of God or the things of this world own you. Either a love for God or a love for money will govern how you spend your time, talent, and treasure—one leads to greed the other to generosity. One sign that you view money as god to save, versus a gift to steward, is simply what you actively do with your money—spend, save, give? Another, more subtle sign, is an unhealthy amount of anxiety about material things—the fear not obtaining what you need or losing what you have.
In this text, Jesus tells us several times not to be anxious or fear. When Jesus tells us not to doing something 4-5 times, it is likely that we are going to have a tendency to do it. EVERYONE FEARS. Fear reveals where your treasure really is—what do you fear losing most?. We all struggle with anxiety, worry, or fear. Many of our fears are private but are revealed when what we treasure is threatened. We fear not being liked. We fear not being successful. We fear dying. We fear people knowing who we really are. We fear suffering. We fear not paying our bills. We fear losing our reputation. We fear our kids growing up and freaking out. We fear losing our jobs. We fear being stuck in our jobs. We fear loneliness. We fear that our lives will not have mattered. Fear reveals what treasure we trust.
WHY DO WE FEAR?
Fear is the antithesis of faith—it is a consequence of a broken relationship with our heavenly Father. There was a time when there was no fear. But our first parents, Adam and Eve, were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit using fear tactics. Satan convinced them that God was holding out on them that they were settling for a “less-than” life—that they would be happier apart from obeying God’s Word. In many ways, they feared that God didn’t love them enough to give them his best—maybe he was holding out on them. Jesus warns us of three different ways we fear: worrying about what we’ll eat, drink, or wear. The apostle John says that the sinful world has three things in it: Lust of eyes, lust of flesh, and pride in achievements or possession in life. John and Jesus are describing same things, said another way, the need to be fulfilled, the need to feel secure, the need to feel admired. Which one of those are you not finding in God? Fulfillment? Security? Approval? We fear because we don’t trust God will fulfill us, God will protect us, or God will provide for us. Fear leads us to deny God and worship whatever we must in order to get (or not lose) what we believe will make will make it all worth it—or make me worth it.
WHAT DOES FEAR TO DO US?
Jesus tells us that anxiety does not give you a longer life or better life; I would argue it takes it away. It robs you of your joy and your family of you. Fear doesn’t lead us to God at all; it leads us away from Him and others. Fear does not build trust in God, it creates doubt. Fear does not generate intimacy with God, it fosters mistrust. Ultimately, fear leads us to sin. Fear destroys relationships because fear makes unfaithful and unloving. All of our faith, all of our love, all of our time, all of our money, all of our energy is given to that savior NOT named Jesus. Fear takes us inward until all we think about is ourselves.
1. Fear of the future enslaves us to self-preoccupation (absent in the moment)
2. Fear of failure enslaves us to self-reliance (need no one)
3. Fear of unhappiness enslaves us to self-indulgence (never satisfied)
4. Fear of disapproval enslaves us to self-promotion (self-and talk about ourselves)
5. Fear of rejection by men enslaves us to self-consciousness (lie to gain men’s approval)
6. Fear of rejection by God enslaves us to self-righteousness (try to be moral)
7. Fear of suffering/death enslaves us to self-preservation (take few risks and eat only organic)
Fear enslaves us to self. Jesus’ entire sermon is about forgetting ourselves, loving God and loving others.
HOW CAN BE FEARLESS?
So how can we be freed from fear? Jesus says THEREFORE, implying, because you know THIS then do THIS. Jesus says if we find ourselves perpetually worried about our daily lives—bills, babies, or beauty—then our problem is a LACK OF FAITH. Fear is a result of a lack of faith. What is faith? The world will tell you you need to believe in yourself. The truth is fear comes from believing in yourself too much. Our trust is misplaced. We need to trust that God is God, that God is a Father who knows you, loves you, caress for you, provides and protects you. We need to believe that God who cares enough to give life to birds and flowers, cares that much more about the life He has given you—one made in His image. Our fear denies who God is. That God is good. That God is wise. The God is loving. The God is merciful. That God is gracious. That God is powerful. That God is a FATHER who loves me.
Jesus says freedom from fear comes from seeking His Kingdom first. Before we think about our needs, we think about God as a Father. Before we imagine the worst, we must forget ourselves and remember that God the Father has always (and will always) given us His best all the time—even if it costs Him his most valuable treasure---this is what the cross proves. 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8.32). Seeking the Kingdom is about NOT fearing at all, but placing our fear in the right place. Luke 12.3-7 4 “[JESUS SAID} do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. If you are going to be anxious anything, let it be about bringing the Kingdom of God to bear on your life. STOP and remember what this life is really all about! Then seek His Kingdom first. Think about God first. Pray to God first. Thank God first. Sacrifice for God first. Obey God first. Give to God first. Love God first. Fear God first—and all your needs will be satisfied.
What is meant by fearing God? Easter shows us three different ways to respond to fear:
1. JESUS IN ON THE CROSS | KNOWING BUT NOT BELIEVING—FEARING GOD WILL PUNISH
There is much to fear about Jesus on the cross. No matter who you are, or what you believe, you’d have to agree that the death of Jesus of Nazareth is awful and tragic. A 30ish year old carpenter named Jesus, who did nothing but serve and love people, is betrayed personally, accused falsely, tried illegally, and murdered brutally. At the very, this tragedy confirms FOR EVERYONE there is something NOT RIGHT with the world, that it is broken and messed up. And while there is much to fear in the world, the cross reveals that there is much to fear about God. God could have chosen a different form of execution, but not one more brutal or bloody. Like a lamb slaughtered for sacrifice, Jesus was slaughtered to reveal just how much our sin costs. The cross reveals that we are more sinful than we will ever admit. The cross is something to be feared. But if Jesus never gets off the cross, if you live on a perpetual good Friday, which is not good. Hours despairing and condemning are dedicated to thinking about your SINS and the SINS of others. It’s a life swinging between pride and despair as you crucify Jesus over and over and over and over again. In truth, you are like Adam and Eve in the bushes, hiding, ashamed—we fear God’s wrath.
2. JESUS IN THE TOMB | BELIEVING BUT NOT TRUSTING—FEARING GOD WILL NOT PROVIDE
Of course, most Christians live with Jesus off the cross…but in the tomb—with a different kind of fear. God may not hate me, but we’re not convinced he loves us. If Friday is knowing but not believing, then this is a life of believing but not trusting. Jesus had told the disciples he would rise again…but they did not trust His Word. Can you imagine what the disciples were feeling on Saturday, the day after the crucifixion. They had probably wept all night, many hid in fear, some were together, others like felt ashamed and wanted to be alone. Saturday would have been the Sabbath, so they didn’t even have their work or tasks to distract them from what has just happened. Sinless Jesus, healing Jesus, Lord Jesus was dead, in the tomb. Jesus had done everything right, they had followed His way, but God didn’t come through. On Saturday, we live in fear that God is not going to provide—that our suffering is meaningless. Most Christians believing that their sins are forgiven, but that they have to live life on their own. We live as if Jesus is still in the tomb and our savior doesn’t have any really impact on my day to day life. If Jesus is still in the tomb, then we serve a powerless God, a defeated God, a silent God, an inactive God, or a dead God. We fear God’s indifference.
3. JESUS ALIVE |Knowing, Believing, Trusting, and living without Fear
A relationship with the Lord begins with FEAR, but it cannot end there. God wants us to live without fear, knowing, believing, and trusting that Jesus is alive. Too many people can’t move past the cross, and too many Christians don’t move past the tomb. WE TRUST that Jesus of Nazareth died and rose again—and never died again. Trusting in the Crucifixion means you accept that NEED a new life not just a better one, AND trusting in the Resurrection means believing you HAVE IT. Dying with Christ means all the guilt, all the shame, all the ugliness, all the fear, all the hopelessness is buried with him forever. Rising with Christ means the law is fulfilled, the curse is lifted, the guilt is removed, the righteousness is given, the power is here, and the hope is real. I may be more sinful than I know, but I am more love than I can imagine!
Faith in the resurrection means I serve a living God who wants me to believe, trust, and live without fear. The cross shows that our relationship with the Lord begins with FEAR, but the resurrection shows it ends in love with casts out all fear: 1John 4.15-18 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. Living the resurrection frees me from fear:
- The resurrected life frees me from fear of a meaningless life—I am adopted by the King
- The resurrected life frees me from fear of disapproval from others—I am approved by the King.
- The resurrected life frees me from fear of not being happy—I am provided for by the King.
- The resurrected life frees me from fear of failure—I am an heir of the King.
- The resurrected life frees me from fear of my place in the world—I am an ambassador for the King.
- The resurrected life frees me from fear of what I cannot control—I am protected by my King.
- The resurrected life frees me from the fear of suffering or dying—I am redeemed by the King.
There is no fear in love. Where is your Jesus? Dying on the cross? Dead in the tomb? Or alive sitting on the throne? Christianity is founded on an answer to one question—WHO IS JESUS CHRIST. And WHO HE IS rests on one historical fact—that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Jesus can’t be a good man if he lied about who He was. He’s a liar. Jesus can’t be a good teacher if he taught he was raised. He’s a nutjob. If Jesus rose form the dead, He is Lord, and everything has changed.
If Christ has not been raised, don’t listen to me, I’m an idiot with nothing offer, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Without the resurrection, we have much to fear for THIS cruel, broken, evil world is all there is. God is mad, there is no rescue from sin, there is not relief from guilt, there is removal of shame, there is not justice for all, there is no meaning in suffering, there is no hope after death. It doesn’t matter how much education I have, how much success I attain, how good I can be, how helpful I prove to be Jesus did it perfectly…and the world killed him. There is much to fear today…forget about tomorrow!
But tomb is empty, Jesus is alive, He is coming again, and there is, therefore, nothing to fear in life or death. We need only believe. Is Jesus lying nut-job or is He Lord? If He’s your Savior, your Hero, Your King, and Your Lord, then stand and worship with us. If until now He’s just been a wise and humble servant dead in the grace, then repent, receive confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with your whole heart that God raised Him from the dead and sing with us. Come and believe with Christ today, that you might live with him now and in eternity.
More in The King Has Come | Matthew
May 11, 2014Jesus the Rock | Matthew 7:24-29 (Mville)
May 11, 2014Jesus is (Scary) Gracious | Matthew 7.15-23 (Snoh)
May 4, 2014Kingdom Admission | Matthew 7:13-23 (Mville)