Trinity 15 – September 28th, 2014 – Matthew 6:24-34
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +
Two masters, two powers contend for you, for you attention, for your life. On the one hand, you have the world, with all its stuff. You have power and might and money and fame – all of which are wrapped up into that wondrous Greek Word – Mammon. That is one potential master – and mammon is a hard master. If you have power – there’s always someone else who is gathering power and undercutting yours – so Mammon would have you strive more and more. Or if your master is your might – if you enjoy being the big dog. . . age comes, and some young pup comes into his might, and your might is shattered. Money – ah, yes, strive after more and more, work harder and harder – that’s what you must do for this master, that’s what must happen to serve money. And what happens? You work, you slave, and it is never enough. There’s always more to be made, and even then what you have made slips through your fingers. And fame, fame is fleeting – the famous folks of today become the jokes of tomorrow and are forgotten by next year. Mammon will make you work, sweat, and toil, and give you nothing in return.
There is another master – Your Lord Christ Jesus. He is the One speaking to you today, calling out to you, teaching you with His most precious Word. And He warns you away from the dangers of Mammon – do not serve mammon – for 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 mammon.” If you follow after mammon – if you lust and crave after power and wealth and strength – those thoughts will dominate your life, they will overwhelm you, they will control you, and they will fill you with emptiness. Christ Jesus warns you against this – Mammon is a cruel master.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” So what is our Lord doing today, what is He teaching us? Is this some sort of Law guilt trip – is Jesus standing there, wagging the finger, “You had better not be anxious, I don’t like anxious people?” You know – I’m anxious more than I like to admit. There are times when I do worry about money, or fame, or power or might, or any of these worldly things. I see what I don’t have, I see what others have, I see doubt and fear in the future, and I become anxious. Is Christ our Lord telling me that because I think, I feel these things I’m not really a Christian? Is He going to say to me on the last day, “You were too anxious – get out of here you bum!”? No. Listen again to what our Lord says.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” Therefore – Jesus says you can’t have the two masters, therefore - I tell you. Jesus tells you – and if Jesus is speaking to you, who is your master? Christ Jesus is. Jesus Christ, the Son of God is your master – and He tells you not to worry – not as a harsh command, but as a warning against the wiles and tricks of Mammon and the world, and as a comforting promise. You see, the world loves to trick you, to tempt you, to drag your eyes off of God and onto itself. Hear what our Lord says, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Aren’t you more than just stuff, more than just Mammon? Isn’t your life, your existence, more than just your next meal? Of course it is – that’s a blessing meant to serve you, not rule over you. Your body is more than just clothing. Yet Mammon, yet stuff will try to draw your attention – and how will it do this? By making you anxious. Think about it – when you are anxious, what are you focused on? Stuff. Things. Cash. Fame. What so and so thinks of me, what so and so said to what’s-his-face. Isn’t your life more than that? Of course it is, for you are a child of God, purchased and won by Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection – God Himself has said that you are so valuable that He Himself will suffer for your sake simply so you can be and exist forever – long after all this Mammon around us is broken and decayed and burned away in the fires of the last day you will live on eternally with Christ. That’s your importance, that’s what you are really worth – that is how Your master Christ Jesus loves you.
Yet when you are anxious, your fears try to tell you that Stuff is more important. That’s what worry is – it’s simply Mammon trying to weasel itself back into a position of importance – anxiety is just an attention grab by the junk of this world to try and enslave you to misery and fear and hard labor in Mammon’s service. So when Christ Jesus tells you not to be anxious, He is warning you that anxiousness is a sign that the world is trying to twist you, trying to enslave you – and you aren’t the world’s slave – you belong to Christ Jesus, He is your Master.
And He is a good Master. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” This is a beautiful promise from your Master. He is good and kind and loving, and He will provide you with what you need now and what you need for eternity. And then we get this long passage explaining this – “Look at the birds of the air: they neither reap nor sow nor put into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Or the grass of the field, adorned most beautifully. God cares for them – and you know that He cares for you much more, for you are of more value than them. How do you know? Did the Father say, “Jesus, we need to win salvation for the ducks – therefore, go, become a duck, born of a virgin duck.” No – who for us men and for our salvation – God does this all for you – that is your value, your value to Him. And He will care for you – This is a promise – God will provide for you now, and He will see you through your days of this life and see you safely unto Your heavenly home – and you can take it to the bank. No fear, not worry, no lack, no illness, no sign of age, no struggle, no hardship you face in this life can change the fact that Christ Jesus has died for you, that He has risen for you, and that He gives you eternal life.
And this is why your Lord says to you, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We know this verse – we probably could sing a little song right now where it uses the old fashioned ye – seek ye first. Familiar verse. But what is our Lord saying to us here? Well first, let’s consider what our Lord means by the Kingdom of God. We shouldn’t merely think of a kingdom as a place – that’s how we in English tend to think – the Kingdom of Denmark is a place, a country. But the Greek Word here has a different focus – a Kingdom is Greek isn’t primarily lines on a map – a kingdom is wherever the King reigns. Wherever the King is and rules, there His Kingdom is. And so, our Lord says to you –seek the Kingdom of God - look for where I, Christ Jesus, am reigning. Why? Well, where Christ is reigning, where He is ruling – there He is your Master, and you are free from the fears and anxieties of Mammon. So you are to seek the place where Christ reigns – you are to seek Christ’s righteousness.
Where does Christ Jesus demonstrate His power – where does Christ Jesus take His righteousness, His perfect and holy life and blood, and pour it upon you? In His Word and in His Sacraments. Wherever the Word of God, wherever His Gospel is proclaimed – there Christ Jesus is present to be your righteous and powerful king, declaring you forgiven. Wherever there is one who has been baptized, wherever one has been washed in the Blood of the Lamb, there Christ Jesus dwells, filling with forgiveness and life. Wherever Christians are gathered around the life giving Body and Blood of Christ Jesus, there our Lord shakes the powers and very gates of Hell itself with His forgiveness, with His life, and with His salvation. Whenever you seek Christ’s righteousness, His forgiveness for you – the powers of sin, of death, of the Devil, of the world, of Mammon are broken, and you are freed from them.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Of course all things will be added unto you, for Christ Jesus, Your Lord and Master, has risen from the dead, and you shall follow your Master and be raised to everlasting life. This is your promise, your inheritance, your possession – all the joys of heaven, all the joys of the new earth, the new creation that is to come, all these are yours right now. They have been added unto you. Again, this promise, this truth cannot be shaken, cannot be destroyed by the world. It’s as Luther would have us sing in a Mighty Fortress – and take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife – though these all be gone, our victory has been won. . . the Kingdom ours remaineth. Christ Jesus is your Lord and Master, and He loves you, and whatever you see in this sinful, messy and messed up world, He still reigns, reigns not only in heaven, not only in the world to come, but right now, reigns in your life by forgiving you, wiping away your sin, giving you strength and courage to endure in the face of all the junk in this world. God His children ne’er forsaketh.
And so my dear friends in Christ Jesus, when you are oppressed by the world, this desert drear, and Mammon comes creeping around your door, trying to stir up covetousness and then anxiety – remember the promises our Lord Christ Jesus has made for you. You need not worry about these things, you need not run after them. Your care is in His hands now – and He will preserve you throughout your days in this fallen, broken world until the last day when you shall rise to new life and enjoy the fullness of the new heavens and the new earth, with joys added unto you that you cannot even conceive of or understand. And why can you be sure of this – because Christ Jesus has risen from the dead, won your forgiveness, reigns and rules from the right hand of God the Father right now, grants you His mercy in His Word, in Baptism, in His Supper, and He shall come again to give you the gift of the resurrection of your body and the life everlasting – this is His Kingdom, and of His Kingdom there is no end. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +