A very nervous airline passenger began pacing the terminal when bad weather delayed his flight. During his walk, he came across a life insurance machine. It offered $100,000 in the event of an untimely death aboard his flight. The policy was just three dollars. He looked out the window at the threatening clouds and thought of his family at home. For that price, it was foolish not to buy, so he took out the coverage. He then looked for a place to eat. Airports now carry a tasty variety of eateries, so he settled on his favorite; Chinese. It was a relaxing meal until he opened his fortune cookie. It read, “Your recent investment will pay big dividends.”
I did an informal survey at work and asked, “How many people here worry a lot?” Two-thirds of the people raised their hands. I am in the worry group as well. Sometimes I fret about the past – my mistakes and missed opportunities. More often, I worry about the future – what kind of world will my grandchildren have to live in, when will I be able to retire, what type of health challenges will my wife and I face?
Many days I see memes on social media that remind me not to worry about the past (already done) or the future (can live tomorrow today). We should live in the present (each day is a gift). That’s all nice and fits into a jpg image, but worrying can be like an addiction or destructive pattern.
After Jesus was crucified, died, and rose from the grave, and before Jesus went into heaven, he saw the worry on his disciples’ faces. The disciples fretted that life will not be as good with Jesus leaving. In every culture, worry is a problem. In Sweden, they say, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” My dad would say, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” In Scotland, they say, “What may be, may not be.” I read one article that 90% of what we worry about never happens. So how did Jesus help the disciples not to worry?
1) Jesus addressed the Problem of Doubt (v. 17)
17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.
Matt 28:17 (NASB)
It is usual for us to feel two or even three emotions at the same time. The disciples worshiped because they loved God, but they were also doubtful about the future. How much could they handle on their own? Doubt comes when we focus on our own strengths and weaknesses.
2) Faith finds its security in the authority of Jesus. (v. 18)
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Matt 28:17-18 (NASB)
Confidence is the opposite of doubt, and trust is the opposite of worry.
There is no one more confident than Jesus because he has all authority. And there is no one we can trust more than God. Jesus is telling the disciples not to doubt because he has all authority, and we belong to God.
3) Replace your doubt by accepting God’s invitation to be part of His great purpose… (vv. 19-20)
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matt 28:19-20 (NASB)
Most of the time, these verses are used to give the church direction and purpose. Go! Make disciples baptize, teach. These are the four basics for the church and for all believers. I especially like the two words, “And lo.” In old Engish that was used to translate the King James Version, “and lo” was to emphasize something essential. Almost like a famous teaching pastor saying, “listen now!”
In v. 20, Jesus is encouraging his disciples. My translation, “Hey, stop doubting. Stop fretting and worrying. You are part of God’s plan. With God, you can do this because I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus did not say, “I am with you sometimes, or when you are good.” Jesus said, “I am with you always even when you sin and doubt and worry.”
I believe we will always have to struggle with worry. If we deeply care about someone or something, we will worry. But we are not alone in our worry. We can pray, at any time, and God reminds us of his love and purpose.
Paul Arnold is a husband, father, grandfather, and currently serves as a chaplain to a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He hosts several podcasts – Man to Man (career advice for men) and Pardon the Confusion (Sports) that are found on iTunes and www.redcircle.com