Do not worry, Jesus says. If you’re worrying about anything right now—and you’re human, so chances are you’re probably worrying about something—a phrase like that can sound flippant, entirely dismissive of your concern. Don’t worry. Let me get right on that, Jesus. It sounds as uncaring as telling someone battling depression “Just think happy thoughts” or telling someone with stage four cancer “keep your chin up!” It sounds like a canned phrase, a sentiment just tossed out there when someone doesn’t know what else to say.
What is making you anxious? As you sit here this morning, what is pulling your mind away from giving your full attention? Every one of us has something that bothers us, that captures our attention. Maybe it’s aches and pains. Maybe you have a diagnosis of cancer or some other disease and you haven’t had the strength to open up about it yet. Maybe you spent a few hours last night looking at your bills and the balance of your bank account, and seeing that one had a higher number, and it certainly wasn’t the bank account balance. Maybe it’s school—you don’t know how you’re going to get through tomorrow, having to sit through another class with him, or how you’re so far behind in your work even though school has only been back in for a few weeks. Whatever your age, occupation, or gender, anxiety is something we all deal with. Something that has to do with this body and life captures our attention, and the devil uses it to turn our eyes from God and His protection and providing to what is going wrong in our life. Whatever the cause of your anxiety, Jesus has a message of joy and peace for you: “Do not be anxious.”
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.