Good Shepherd, because you laid down your life for me, grant that I may trust you to provide my daily needs. Amen.
In the name of Christ who has mercy on us – dear people of God:
Throughout his sermon on the mount Jesus has been pointing out to us the that sin comes from inside a person – since we are all poisoned and corrupted by original sin. Jesus has clearly demonstrated that not only our actions are sinful but our thoughts and attitudes as well. Today Jesus addresses the struggle that all of his followers experience as they battle the sinful nature. Certainly, we will not attain perfection this side of heaven. But here Jesus urges us to fight the good fight of faith, to keep on striving and struggling, and as we do all that to keep focused on what he has accomplished for us. Jesus lovingly warns us not to fall for all the glitz and glitter of the things of this world, but to seek him and his righteousness. Jesus urges us to make him our priceless treasure and to receive from him spiritual and eternal blessings that will never be taken from us. Jesus says to us today: Pursue real treasure in life!
Jesus urges on us a spiritual focus. He exhorts, No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Notice how masterfully Jesus deals with a very difficult topic. He never says the materials or the money of this world is in itself evil. He does not urge on us a despising of the things of this world – for they are blessing from him as well. However, he does warn us not to make the things of this world so important to us that they replace God. Money and possessions dare not become our lord and master. We dare not serve these things – they are given to us to serve us. The One we are to serve is our gracious and merciful God!
The most important matter in life is not where we live or what we drive or the clothes we wear or the amount of money in the bank. Jesus, in a very sobering way, asks us, “What of eternity?” The things of this world will not last. The salary, the pension, the things that clutter your attic and your garage – they are meaningless as you find yourself dying. Jesus asks, “How is your relationship with God?” The only way to have any kind of relationship with the holy God is through Jesus and his righteousness. The things of this world are great gifts from a gracious God – but the greater gift is the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the only way to eternal life. Our focus in life has lasting consequences. So Jesus says, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. It is Jesus’ way of saying first things first. It is Jesus’ way of saying that we need to make him the number one priority in life. Our sinful nature hears this and immediately says, “Yeah, but …” What if I have to work on Sunday? That may cause some troubles, is there a way around it? Is it every Sunday? Is there a way for you to find another job? The immediate thought is that there is no way around it. But then consider what Jesus says here – seek him first, he will take care of everything else. Certainly, there are other ways for you to hear God’s Word. If you must work then find a way to still hear God’s Word. What if Sunday is the only time I get to relax and sleep – Jesus wants to give you rest for your souls. Put him first and you will find yourself better rested and relaxed (you will have less stress and fewer worries). Jesus encourages us to put him first, to take care of our spiritual needs first, and he promises he will take care of our other needs as well. This is the truth that we put into practice as we pray the Lord’s Prayer. We pray seven petitions in the prayer – only one of which deals with earthly, physical needs – the rest deal with spiritual needs.
Seeking his kingdom and his righteousness is a quiet pursuit. It involves listening to his Word. It involves learning his Word. It involves living the Word. There is nothing flashy or impressive about this. In the end it is about being influenced by God’s Word at every turn in life. As we consider this fact, we recognize a need for growth. Jesus says in addressing his followers – O you of little faith … Notice exactly what he says. He doesn’t suggest that they have no faith. He is talking about applying trust in him to everyday situations. He wants us to always trust him in everything. But our sinful nature gets in the way. So we need to come to the Word and to the sacrament to find strength for our weak faith. We need to cry out to our dear Lord, “Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”
Life consists in much more than paying the rent or the mortgage, putting food on the table, and financing our fun – life is about knowing Christ is our Savior! Our dear Savior urges us to seek his kingdom and his righteousness first. Salvation first is our motto. But the words of Jesus don’t stop there! He at the same time urges – entrust your daily life to God’s loving care!
Everything in life is under God’s gracious direction. Paul writes to the Romans: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things. The outlook Jesus wants us to have toward life is to realize that since Christ has secured our salvation – he has both the power and the will to take care of our other, less important needs. Jesus would have us consider how well God does things. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. The point is that if God takes care of birds and flowers so well – how much do you think God is caring for you? The flowers and the birds don’t worry and fret about their next meal or how they will look. God takes care of them. How much more God takes care of us for whom he sacrificed his own Son! Stop worrying. Instead, work, pray, and trust that the Lord will give you exactly what you need for each day. God never forgets you – consider what we heard from Isaiah this morning! He will take care of your needs. He will provide a pastor for Immanuel – he hasn’t forgotten about you in the least!
In the end Jesus says take one day at a time. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Jesus again urges us to have the correct focus. Focus on the things you can do something about right now. As for the things you can’t control and the things that you can’t address right now – leave them in God’s loving care. The good news is that God always does the right thing – even when we fail.
Stop to consider the amazing grace and the incredible mercy that God has poured out on us and continues to pour out on us. Consider the fact that God never changes – he will always have a undeserved love for you. That means that God will always watch over you – he will never sleep nor slumber!
Dear people of God, live your life by the Kyrie, that ancient cry of the church – Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. That is our daily prayer entrusting everything in life into the gracious and merciful hands of our dear heavenly Father. Live your life knowing without a doubt that your God continues to pour out his mercies on you new every morning! Live life in the confidence of God’s loving care! Amen.