Based on: Luke 12:32-40
Dear Lord, why does the church struggle so much to carry out the work you gave it? “Do not be afraid, little flock.” But Lord, the church keeps growing smaller. “Do not be afraid, little flock.” But Lord, fewer and fewer people are motivated to serve . . . and money – there never seems to be enough, Lord. “Do not be afraid, little flock.”
God doesn’t give us all the answers, does he? He doesn’t tell us how things are going to work out or when these problems will go away. He simply says, “Don’t be afraid. You just focus on Jesus and what he has done for you and then you will be ready when he returns.”
Jesus tells us, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This follows so well what Jesus told us last week about that rich fool who died before he could enjoy his wealth, and the words of Solomon who told us that chasing after money is meaningless.
Again, with the sincere plea of a loving heavenly father, God calls us to let go of the things that only seem important in this world and focus on the only thing that really matters – the Gospel, God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures. Whatever words you want to use to describe it, God has pulled us out of an eternity of suffering and has given us the kingdom. (More about that later.)
Last week we heard God tell us to “be patient”. Be patient as a farmer is patient. This week God tells us to also be ready. Be ready like a servant watching for his master to return home so that when he comes home he can quickly open the door for him.
Doesn’t that describe the Christian – always ready for the Savior to return because the Christian is always watching for him to return. Perhaps we can relate to this illustration a little easier. The Christian is like a groom on his wedding day. He is at the front of the church. He is dressed well. He has the ring. All the arrangements have been made. He is ready for his bride and he is intently watching at the door for her to appear.
That is the mindset of the Christian waiting for his Savior to come back. We are ready and watching. But how are we ready? There is only one way to be ready for the master of the universe to come and knock on your door. It is only through the blood of Christ. It is only because Christ lived for you and died for your sin that you have the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. That is the only thing that makes you ready for his return. Now, as a redeemed child of God, made ready by God himself, you watch for your Savior.
But how do we watch? We watch by learning to recognize him. We need to know what our Savior looks like, don’t we? And the way to do that is to see what he is like in Scripture! Jesus tells all his disciples to do listen to his voice in Scripture. Learn to recognize your Savior.
You know that the longer you live with someone the better you know them. You recognize their voice on the phone. You can see them coming even from a long way off. You even start to understand the way they think. It can really be scary sometimes! Live with your Savior. Get to know him better and better each day.
That’s what Jesus told Mary and Martha was the one thing needed. He told his disciples it would keep them spiritually alive.
Let’s look at the Israelites for an example. In our first lesson for today we can see that they didn’t take God’s Word very seriously. It was not very high on their list of things to do. You can tell because they weren’t very concerned about God’s house. They fixed up their own houses, but not God’s house. They made sure their houses looked nice, but they weren’t too concerned about God’s house. And here is a good time to ask people to sign up to clean the church. As you clean your own house think about helping to clean God’s house.
Getting back to Israel – they were not watching for their Savior. It was obvious in the way they lived their lives that their treasure was in their own lives and so that’s where their heart was too.
God, in his grace, came to warn them. He graciously called them to repentance and they responded as any believer would. They “obeyed the voice of the Lord!” We don’t hear about Israel responding like that very often to God’s Word, but here they are an excellent example for us. They put God first in their lives.
That’s exactly what Jesus is asking of us right here. Put him first. Let it show in your life with the way you use your money, the way you deal with people, the way you deal with problems, and especially in the way you learn more about him.
But how can we keep Jesus and his Word first? There are so many distractions in this world. We have our own families to take care of. We have work to do. Problems come up that we have to deal with. There are so many things to think about! “God, I have to deal with all of that stuff. How can I focus on your Word?”
God says don’t be afraid, the kingdom is yours. Did you notice that sweet, little statement at the beginning of the Gospel for today? “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
You can focus on God’s Word because the kingdom is already yours. That really is a precious little verse, but let’s connect it with the verse right before it. Jesus told about the rich fool that we heard about last week, then he tells us about how God takes care of the birds and the flowers and we are more important to God than they are. “Seek his kingdom”, Jesus says and God will take care of the rest.
Now he takes one more step. Not only will God take care of you, but he has already given the kingdom to his church, to his little flock. There is no reason to worry or be afraid or stress about other things. The kingdom is ours. Think about what that means. Eternal life is yours, you do not need to be afraid of what comes after death. God’s wealth is yours, you do not need to be afraid of starving or going without. God’s holy angels are yours as God uses them to watch over you, you do not need to be afraid of any evil. You are free to focus on Jesus.
It pleased God to do this. He was pleased to come to this earth as one of us. He was pleased to die on a cross for us. He was pleased to suffer hell for us. He was pleased to come to us in baptism and make us his children. He was pleased to give us eternal life.
What Christian would not want to hear more about the kingdom that is his and how God was pleased to give it?
When things look bleak, whether in the church or outside the church, don’t be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.