Jesus Christ and Anxiety
by Gini Crawford, MSW
Jesus Christ became anxious for us
Jesus, Who is God, willingly put on flesh and blood to die for us, and as a result dealt with the affects of anxiety. Jesus had reaction anxiety because He was human (John 11:33). Yet, He never had sinful anxiety. (Hebrews 2:14-18, 4:14-16).
The best example of Jesus handling reaction anxiety is just before He is arrested in the garden of Gethsemane (Mount of Olives). This is when He was fervently praying for strength to take the sins of the world upon Himself. Let's look at Luke 22:40-46.
When He (Jesus) arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation (trial-testing-adversity)." And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." ... And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation." Luke 22:40-46 NASB®
The Greek word agony (agonia) in Luke 22:44 refers to anxiety produced by fear or tension before something hard such as a battle. Jesus knew the traumatic and nightmarish battle ahead of Him (Mark14:33). He knew the betrayal, and all the humiliation, pain and anguish He would suffer, so of course agony or reaction anxiety hit Him. Jesus knew, as He hung on the cross, He would be forsaken by God the Father during those three hours of darkness, when He became our sin-offering. Jesus knew the distress He would feel to have all the sins that were ever committed to fall on Him - every evil act, every betrayal, all suffering, every mean word, every lie and so on. Yes, to pay for our sins was the hardest battle ever fought. (Matthew 26:1-2, 47-75, 27:11-54; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
In Luke 22, it is very clear Jesus had the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as sweating. Since Jesus' sweating was abnormally intense, I believe this meant His reaction anxiety was extremely strong. This state understandably caused His mind and body to be in a panic state, so that He felt like He would die from His anxiety (Matthew 26:36-38).
Jesus gives us the best example of how to deal with anxiety
It just makes sense to follow Jesus' example of dealing with reaction anxiety, since He is our Creator (Colossians 1:13-19). He literally knows everything about us and the world around us. His example of prayer and trust stops sinful anxiety and calms reaction anxiety.
Jesus knew the power of prayer. In the garden of Gethsemane passage, you observe how Jesus emphasized prayer five times. He used prayer to overcome His anxiety and to encourage His disciples to overcome their anxious situation. This passage gives us a vivid picture of Philippians 4:6 that we studied yesterday, doesn't it? We need to be women who pray, so we can deal with our anxious world as Jesus did! In reality when we pray, we are talking to Jesus Who understands how awful anxiety is, and died so He could get us through the world's anxious happenings. Beautiful reality, isn't it?
A trusting relationship. In Luke 22 we see how Jesus trusted in God's will for His life, when He said, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." Granted, there is a triune relationship between God the Son (Jesus Christ), God the Father and God the Holy Spirit that only they enjoy. Yet, through Jesus we can enjoy a close relationship with God that gives us what we need to trust-believe-have faith in Him, so we can get through even the worst, in this anxious world (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Hebrews 11:1,6; 1 Peter 2:21-25).
Consider when you are anxious, that Jesus died, so you would not have to live eternally in anxiety, but with Him in the serenity of heaven (John 1:29, 3:16-18, 14:1-11; Revelation 1:5, 7:15-17). To have real peace now and in eternity you need to believe in Jesus? Do you?
Jesus empathizes with us
Jesus chose to experience the worst of anxiety for us, even though as God He could have avoided or stopped His anxiety, but instead He endured it for you and me. Why did He do this? He wanted to experience the suffering and affliction of this world that you and I experience, so He could perfectly empathize and help us personally to survive this stressful world (John 11:33, 38). Since Jesus endured extreme reaction anxiety for you and me, let us run to Him with our reaction anxiety as well as our sinful anxiety, knowing He will give us mercy and help so we can be conquerors in our battle with anxiety (Romans 8:26-39).
Therefore, since we have a great high priest (mediator between God and people) who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV
Jesus stated a number of times to people while on this earth to not be afraid. He knew how frightening our troubling world is, and wanted us to know - He knows it and is with us through it all (Matthew 28:20; John 14:27). In Mark 4, Jesus' disciples were frightened because of a storm, which Jesus immediately calmed for them. Call to Jesus! He will calm the anxious storms in your life. He understands. Read Mark 4:36-41.
Quickly review the ten days of "Be anxious but do not sin". Which day helped you the most with dealing with anxiety?
May God keep you safe and give you His joy and peace in this season of world-wide crisis. Love y'all!