Based on: Luke 12:32-40
If you haven’t read Luke chapter 12 recently I would suggest reading it for your own personal devotion sometime in the near future. In Luke chapter 12 Jesus plainly tells us that the things of this world are nothing to worry about. It is the world to come –eternal life with our Savior – that should be the focus of our attention, our highest priority. For today, let’s give special attention to one beautiful and comforting verse from this chapter – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” This verse provides the reason and motivation for God pleasing priorities. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."
Let’s look at this verse a few words at a time. First of all, Jesus says, "Do not be afraid." Here is a command from our savior – a loving command, and a command for our own good to be sure, but still a command. If he said “Do not murder” or “Do not steal” we would recognize it at once as a command. Instead he commands, “Do not be afraid.”
After all, isn’t fear the opposite of faith – a lack of trust in God? When the disciples were in the boat and Jesus was asleep and the storm was raging – they were afraid. After Jesus calmed the storm he said, “Where is your faith?” Then fear is a sin against the 1st commandment, “You shall have no other Gods,” which, as Luther explains, means “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”
Yet, how can he say this? There is so much in this world to be afraid of. This week our school staff attended training on health-related issues in the school and learned that the avian, or bird, flu has the potential to be a serious problem. Of course, there are also tornados, fire, terrorism, and many other things to be afraid of in this evil world.
What kinds of things are you afraid of? Are they financial, health related, or do they involve family relationships? Perhaps your fears are even worse – the things you have done wrong seem too large for God to forgive or perhaps you are uncertain about what will happen to you after you die.
There are other things you might be afraid of without knowing it. Are you afraid to make the kingdom of God your highest priority? Are you afraid of what supporting this congregation might do to your standard of living? Right before saying “Do not be afraid,” Jesus said, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” And then immediately after this verse we are looking at Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
In this verse Jesus tells us just how much God has given us, and yet we are afraid for the little things. It’s as if God has put millions of dollars in our bank account and yet we are upset over the nickel we lost in the storm sewer.
“Do not be afraid, little flock.” Look at how he addresses us. Jesus has called himself the Good Shepherd and he says that his sheep know his voice and follow him, so this little flock that he is talking about is made up of the believers, those who trust in Jesus there Good Shepherd. This is a beautiful term of endearment coming from our Savior. As difficult as it is sometimes, he lovingly tells us not to be afraid. So even in these words, "little flock," there is comfort. Psalm 23 comes to mind – the picture of lying down in green pastures and beside quiet waters and having God’s protection as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
There is also concern and maybe fear as we look at the word "little". We know that Jesus says you are either for him or against him. As we look at all the evil in this world around us, we realize that the unbelievers far outnumber the believers. The unbelievers make up a large and hungry pack of wolves.
This is a slight digression, but let me mention two examples where the world attacks Christ’s little flock. First, this world would have us believe that it is OK for a man and a woman to live together outside of marriage. God clearly tells us this is wrong and he tells us this for our own good, but the world will call us old-fashioned or tell us to mind our own business.
Second, the world does not tolerate the truth of God’s Word. Many Christian churches have given in to the world and have compromised there own convictions about God’s truth by worshipping with other churches that mix the truth with false teaching. The world says it is unloving to tell someone what they believe is wrong, but is it unloving to warn someone of something that harms their faith?
Even though the world is against us and outnumbers us, we are still Jesus little flock. This is certainly true, but Jesus has another reason to tell us, to command us, not to be afraid. Jesus says, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for". That little word "for" could be replaced with the word "because". So tell us, Jesus, why shouldn’t we be afraid? Do not be afraid because “your Father". Do not be afraid because God is your Father. Of course Jesus is talking about the almighty God of universe. He tells us in the Lord’s Prayer to call him father and here’s another time he calls God our Father. If sinful, earthly fathers care for their children and want to protect them, how much more so our perfect heavenly Father? You have the almighty God of the universe as your Father and he loves you. "Do not be afraid, little flock."
There is more. What is there about my heavenly Father that comforts me so that I shouldn’t be afraid? Jesus, what else do you have to tell us? "For your father has been pleased to give you." God is going to give us something and he is pleased to do it. It is a gift. We did not earn it. He wants to give us something simply out of his own desire and love for us. It pleases him to give us this gift. And he has already done it. Did you hear what Jesus said? "Your father has been pleased to give." This gift is ours already.
So what is this gift? What is our heavenly Father going to give us? Is it a car, house, our health, maybe even world peace? No, don’t think so small. A father as great as our heavenly Father gives us something truly great. He has given us the whole kingdom. You have the wealth of the almighty God. You have the riches of the kingdom that Christ won for you on the cross. You are set free from sin and guilt. As you take your fear and misplaced priorities to the cross – the times you were afraid to make the kingdom you primary focus – Jesus says, “Those sins are paid for.”
The kingdom is yours. You rule with Christ and are no longer ruled by Satan. You also have authority over Satan and the evil angels. When they tempt you to sin, tell them you are a child of God and they must flee.
The kingdom is yours and it will last forever. When you leave this temporary and imperfect world, your eternal and perfect kingdom will remain. Even now the whole earth is yours because God uses everything in this world for your good, to bring you to eternal life.
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." Do not be afraid. The kingdom God has given you is a perfect kingdom that will last forever. It is worth far more than the things of this earth.
We simply watch for Jesus to return, and he will make it clear that God’s kingdom has been ours all along. We will see clearly what now we trust through faith. Do not be afraid. Even though the reasons you have to be afraid are often things you can see and hear and feel, God promised that he has given us the kingdom. Our Father was pleased to give it to us.