“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on” (Luke 12:22-34).
Ever since the crunch of the apple in paradise, men have walked about in fear. Troubled and anxious about many things. Where we were once free from fear, worshiping God in a spirit of truth and purity, that seemingly harmless bite threw the whole cosmos into chaos, despair and ultimately death. When our first parents ate and drank from that tree hoping to be made wise, they were made spiritually deaf, dumb, and blind. And everything was turned upside down. Man was now cursed to toil and spin and press on by the sweat of his brow.
Martin Luther writes in his commentary on Genesis that after the fall, man became terrified even at the whisper of a rustling leaf. And as our first parents hid from God among the trees, scared, anxious, and rebellious – a gracious God yet pursued them. Even as we were consigned to disobedience God loved us still walking beside us in bodily form.
But this morning death has no standing among us. There is no need to hide or worry of whats to come. We have been made hearers of His Gospel. For Christ has entered in. Him who knew no sin, became sin for us. To bear the full brunt of God’s fury against our rebellion – to cancel out the debt of judgment that we ourselves deserved. God himself paid the price. He died that we might truly live. For we know that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. And by His death – this upside down world has been made right again. For He has destroyed death. And by His resurrection has lavished upon us forgiveness and has ushered us into the heavenly places. By the mercy of God he has brought us here – together – has gathered us around the risen Lord to eat and drink from the tree of truth. That is to eat and drink from Christ himself who comes here – among us. That we too may be made sons and daughters of light.
But what about today. What about the troubles of this mortal life. Concerning sin, not much has changed over these thousands of years. On this side of heaven. The devil still works tirelessly to have us worry, toil, and spin about many things. That is his business. To orient us away from God’s Holy Word and Fatherly care and to the chaos of our own human hearts and imaginations. He loves to whip us into all kinds of worry. To make us anxious, worried, and insecure.
He loves to throw us into sadness and despair. And we fall for it all; hook, line, and sinker. We believe the evil one. We believe that we are in constant danger and live as though we had no Father in Heaven at all. We worry tirelessly. About our children, our aging parents, our congregation. We worry about our country and live as chicken little as though the sky were falling and there was no hope for the future. It is a violent lie-that money will bring happiness. So we plot and plan and pursue every incremental dollar as though our lives depended on it.
When we take a sober look at ourselves, we realize that we are not starving for lack of food. We are not naked and without clothing. Quite the opposite, we often have more food and more clothing that we know what we can do with. By the grace and mercy of God we do have a place to lay our heads at night that we may sleep in peace.
But Dear Christian. Dear toiling and spinning Christian. Hear the Gospel of our Lord. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Solomon as King of an empire, in all his glory – with his mansions and power and riches and colorful robes and fine foods was not arrayed as lovely as a simple lily of the field. And if God so richly adorns a simple flower in the field, good heavens, how much more will he delight in you and care for you! You, who are created in His very image. You baptized into the baptism of His very Son. You, whom he tenderly looks at and says, “You are my dearest Son, You are my dearest daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”
You are more precious to your Father than lilies. You are more than a flower. And though he tenderly cares for even lilies, and graciously feeds the birds of the air, you are much – much more to him. He loves you. You are His own. He has clothed you with the wedding garment of everlasting righteousness. What rose possesses the reddened beauty of Christ's blood, which washes you clean from all your sins? For you have been made whiter than snow. And what lily shines as brightly as the glorified and heavenly flesh of Christ Jesus. No, Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as lovely as you. For you have been planted firmly in the Kingdom of God’s Son and you have been sprinkled with the life giving water that flows from his pierced side.
The life you live is the life of one forgiven – bathed in the waters of Holy Baptism and richly fed through the Supper that grants you true healing. The only way is to live is to live as one forgiven. And when we live in the forgiveness of sins. It changes absolutely everything.
In our Gospel reading this morning. Our Lord teaches us provide for ourselves moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail. Your money bag and your extravagant riches are the riches of Christ. Faith receives that which God loves to give you. For to be truly rich and generous toward God is simply to be a recipient of Christ and His gifts.
And when you seek His Kingdom you seek the blessing pierced and blessing hands of Christ. And you have been absolved out of Fatherly divine goodness and mercy. Seek Him and all those other things will be added to you.
As you continue to suffer and toil through this earthly life, know that there is no suffering that your God does not know. He sympathizes with you in all your troubles. Your hardships are not insignificant. They actually mean something, for you are being perfected and beautified in the image of God – the image of the suffering servant. But be comforted. God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Today as you are filled with good things and refreshed for the journey, do not be anxious about tomorrow. For tomorrow will come. The lilies will shine in the warmth of the sun. And all of creation will join in the chorus that praises her maker. The birds of the air will sing and your heavenly Father will feed them. And it will all be ‘very good’ to the Lord.
But nothing in creation is more pleasing to him than you. Fear not, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. That is to say, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you Jesus. And with him you are infinitely rich. As you await his coming, know that on that day you will ask nothing of him. In the name of Jesus. Amen.