In the Name of Jesus
15. Trinitatis 060
Leodegar, Bishop of Autun, France. Martyr 678
2. October 2011
1. Almighty God, Heavenly Lord and Merciful Father, we come once more to You our Faithful, Dear Lord and Father. We lament to You of our heartfelt need which we bring before You. Shameful unbelief plagues us again so that we do not entirely confide in You nor do we trust Your Word which promises that You will provide all our needs. Therefore, O God and Lord, we ask You, come and help our unbelief, and increase our faith so that we trust Your Word, and so that we do not deviate from it…. Therefore we cast our concerns, O Lord, upon You. Supply us and our heart’s desire, for You, our Lord, have promised to us that when we seek first the reign of God and its righteousness all is given to us. Therefore we will lay a hold of Your word in times of calamity and let You worry about how You will nourish us. We commend to You our bodies and souls, our homes and all our livelihoods. You temporally and eternally preserve us with Your grace, in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Redeemer and Savior. Amen.
2. Our sermon text for this morning, dear brothers and sisters, is from the Gospel according to Matthew where the holy evangelist writes: Jesus taught His disciples: „No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money. 25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the reign of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.“ This is our text.
3. As Jesus continues His sermon on the Mount, He, at this point in His teaching, focuses on the First Commandment: You shall have no other gods except Me. Idolatry and polytheism plague mankind; they have since the fall into sin. Even Christians, yes, faithful Christians who believe upon Jesus Christ as their savior, often struggle with, or actually have, idols in their lives. O it is not so obvious. You won’t find in a Christian’s home an altar dedicated to Baal, Thor, or Zeus, but many Christians struggle with the First Commandment. Jesus calls out and reveals the idol that secretly is worshipped; it is the idol of mammon. We don’t normally use that good old Aramaic word much today, but in Jesus day and culture the word was commonly used. Mammon means „wealth“. Mammon can also refer to „greed, avarice and unjust worldly gain“ (Wikipedia); it is often used to refer to excessive materialism or greed as a negative influence (Wikipedia).
4. Today we want to focus on three aspects of Jesus’ sermon:
I. Divided loyalties leads to a despised loyalty.
II. Our primary loyalty is to Christ.
III. The reign of God is the first of many blessings.
5. Divided loyalties lead to a despised loyalty. A person cannot serve two masters because he will either love the one and despise the other or vice versa. Likewise, you cannot claim both Jesus and wealth as masters. Either you will love Jesus and despise wealth or you will despise Jesus and love wealth. You can only have one God. You have to choose. And it is not always an easy choice.
6. It is easy to say wealth is not an idol, but human beings spend plenty of time amassing wealth and protecting it, fretting about food, clothing and home. When such items become your lord that you serve with all your heart, then you are enslaved by worry about whether you will have enough food, clothing, or wealth that are necessary for life. Such fretting and worry is common as we live in a temporal world that revolves around these necessities of life. Furthermore, we have numerous responsibilities and duties to provide the necessities of life for our families and other depending on our vocation.
7. When wealth becomes an obsession, then it has become an idol. As an idol it is therefore a competing god with the One True God. Yahweh does not tolerate rival gods and idols. He is a zealous God who commands our respect, honor and worship. This command is not given out of pettiness or anger, but it is a command given out of love for Yahweh knows that He alone is God, He alone is our Creator and He alone can provide all our earthly and spiritual needs.
8. Our primary loyalty is to Christ. He does not want you to have divided loyalties, but He wants you to be properly loyal to Him alone. Our Heavenly Father sent His Only Son to this earth as our savior. Christ was, and is, completely loyal to God the Father. As the Son of God, Jesus faithfully carries out His Father’s will. Jesus is the Founder and Perfecter of our one holy Christian faith (Hebrews 12,12).
9. Faith looks to Christ alone. He is the promised Christ and Messiah. He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (Luke 24,44; John 1,45). He is the Lamb of God who is taking away the sin of the world (John 1,29). He is our Prophet, Priest, and Prince. During His public ministry, Jesus preached to and healed both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus’ ministry proclaimed that: „Whatever things are necessary for this life God will overall provide; thus, they should not be a matter of great concern“ (Gerhard 165).
10. The reign of God is the first of many blessings. »The reign of God does not consist in talk but in power« (1. Corinthians 4,20). »Flesh and blood cannot inherit the reign of God« (1. Corinthians 15,50). The reign of God comes through Christ Jesus alone.
11. The reign of God exhorts you to look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Jesus teaches that the reign of God promises you in every way and each day that your Heavenly Father provides your earthly needs. The reign of God points you to the lilies of the field. Even Solomon in all his wealth, power and glory was not arrayed like one of these lilies. Jesus assures us that no matter the trial or temptation, no matter how difficult this life may seem, nevertheless Jesus watches over you, protects you, and desires only good things for you. The reign of God is brought by Jesus and promises you that God does indeed love you and cares for you. You are worth more to your Heavenly Father than a flock of birds and a field of lilies. You are so precious to Jesus that He shed His blood to redeem you.
12. The reign of God leads to righteousness. One is made righteous solely by Jesus. The reign of God is revealed in Christ Jesus suffering on the cross and dying for your sins. Jesus did that to purchase your forgiveness, and with forgiveness there is salvation and eternal life.
13. In His Incarnation Jesus lived the truth that no hair, no sparrow falls, without the Father. The grass of the fields which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. And Jesus too, in solidarity with the lot of all creatures. What all creatures bear, He bore more. The weight of all was upon His shoulders. He was thrown into the oven. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. There is Calvary and there is Easter. His – and yours! Yours, given to you in Baptism. A newness of life, from Him, with Him, and so, no more living as if He did not die and rise again for you. And so, no more anxiety. Those who choose to, remain alone – isolated items having to look out for themselves as if the Lord were not there, not caring or not caring well enough so that some alternatives have to be devised to fill in for His failures: idols, other gods, that last only as long as we can keep them going. Endless anxiety. Jesus calls you out of anxiety to grow as the little lily grows, with final confidence in God. Thirty fold, sixty fold and an hundred fold. The little flower in the hand of Jesus. Did He pull it up? It was His. Then its life was spent – telling of Him! Was ever flower more beautiful? You too! How much more you, than the grass of the fields and the birds of the air“ (Nagel § 10-16). Amen.
14. Let us pray. O Lord, our Good and Gracious God, today we taste and see that You are good; we have heard it preached and we will receive it on our lips in the Sacrament. Through these means of grace comfort and assure us that the person is blessed who takes refuge You so that we may be confident to cast all our anxieties and cares upon You alone and in doing so receive rest, peace and joy. Amen.
One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you!
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Matthew © 1995 by Reuben Joseph Swanson.
Gerhard, Johann. Postilla, Volume 2: Sermons for the Trinity Season. Copyright © 2007 O. Marc Tangner, Ph.D.
Nagel, Dr. Norman. A sermon preached on 14. October 1985 (Pentecost 20) at Concordia Seminary Chapel on Matthew 6,25-34. Copyright © 1985 The Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel.