Pentecost 12–“Anxiousness” (Luke 12:22-34)

C-76 Proper 14 (LHP) (Lu  12.22-34)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

One of many things in Scripture that is hard for sinful man to do is put forward by Jesus today in our Gospel reading: not be anxious about our lives. This includes what we will eat, where we will live, the type of job we will have, the amount of money we have in the bank, etc., etc. All of this falls under the category of daily bread, something which we pray for daily in the Lord’s Prayer: “give us this day our daily bread.” But what do we mean when we say daily bread? Martin Luther gives a very full explanation in the Small Catechism about daily bread. In short, he writes that “daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body….” He goes on to explain it in greater detail, but he starts off by identifying the main point of our daily bread – all that we need to support our body each day.

As Jesus is talking to His disciples, He is teaching them not to be anxious about the things of this world. We all know just how caught up we are in the things of this world that it is the rare thing to not be anxious about anything. However, that is precisely what Jesus is telling the disciples. When He sent out the twelve apostles and the 72 disciples, He told them to take no food along. They were to eat in homes along the way. Such a day-to-day existence might easily cause one to wonder where the next meal would be coming from. Jesus urges His disciples to not be anxious. Life is more than just eating and drinking. In rejecting the devil’s first temptation in the wilderness, Jesus even said as much: “Man shall not live by bread alone.”

The attitude that Jesus looks for in His disciples is one of faith and trust in the heavenly Father. This is the very opposite of the world in which we live in, a world focused on food and drink and a fear of not having enough of the “stuff” that we really need. But here Jesus gives to the disciples comfort which they desperately needed. For all of the things that we need in this world, Jesus assures the disciples, “Your Father knows that you need them.” He will provide for our needs of daily bread in His divine way and with His divine understanding.

Rather than setting one’s heart on “what you are to eat and what you are to drink,” Jesus urges the disciples instead to “seek his kingdom and these things will be added to you.” Once again, Jesus is setting up the question of right priorities. The Pharisees had their priorities. Martha had her priorities as we saw a few weeks ago. The rich man had his priorities as we saw last week. And today, we have our priorities. Sometimes they include Jesus and other times they do not.

It’s easy for us to become over anxious in our world. However, Christ points us to creation all around us in our text and asks us a simple question: “When you see creation, don’t you see my Father’s care? Don’t you see the concern my Father has for everything all around you? Then surely you know that my Father is concerned for you as well.”

God the Father does nothing less than provide for us as well. It may not be what we want or desire but it is what we need to live. However, when we look at the world around us, we get conflicting information. While God provides for our needs, we also see such destruction and devastation. All of this seems to go against God’s care in creation. How is it that God provides for His creation when He allows His creation to suffer like this? We look for answers, but often than not, we don’t look to God for the answers. We look to ourselves for answers or we look to the world for answers. When we worry, we are saying one of two things about God. We are either saying that God is not powerful enough to help us, or that God is powerful, but doesn’t care – or maybe He even wants to hold us back. In any case, we are saying that we cannot rely on God and must therefore rely on ourselves and on our stuff. When we trust in ourselves above all things, we are saying that we are god. When we trust in our stuff above all things, we are saying that our stuff is god. Either way, we are committing idolatry. We are not trusting in God above all things. In fact, we are not trusting in God at all.

While worry is not part of our human nature, it – like all our sins – is part of the sinful nature that we inherited from our parents. The corruption of sin that brought frustration, injury, illness, and death into this world also makes us worriers from birth. Worry is part of the package that comes with our original sin. The heart that does not see Jesus tries to build up treasure for itself. It places trust in the things of this world, something which is easy for us to do. It’s easy because we think that the world can provide us the comfort we need, especially in difficult times. However, that is not the case. While the world may seem to bring comfort to us now, it is only temporary at best. Jesus gives to us a warning – short and simple, but a warning nonetheless: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

When the heart is treasuring the wrong things, then creation and the world does not bring the comfort that Jesus speaks of; the problems of the world weigh upon us rather than being lifted, and anxiety and fear burden us. The only way to change what our heart sees is to change the focus of what our heart is seeing. Instead of focusing on the things of this world which give us great joy now, we need to turn our focus to what matters: Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.

Because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, He has made us a wonderful treasure to God. Our sins have been forgiven; not once, but for all times. God doesn’t see the way we used to be, a creation marred by our sins. Now, He sees us as His blood-bought sons and daughters, free from all our sins and where only the brightness of Christ’s holiness is reflected in us.

Where God’s treasure is, there is His heart also. That is why He sent His Treasure to earth, as His one and only Son, who left His place in heaven to become human so that He may die for your sins and mine.

Jesus doesn’t just tell us that life is more than food. He gives us life. Life with Jesus is more than just the years that we spend here on this earth. By calling attention to the short life of the grass of the field, He reminds us that we inherited an immortal soul from our first father, Adam – a soul that was breathed into Him by the very breath of God. The end of our lives here on this earth is not our final destination. Our final destination is in eternity.

The clothing that we seek is that of Christ, to be clothed in His righteousness. For us, that is the only clothing that matters. Christ took the filthy rags of our sins to the cross. With His sacrificial suffering and death, He earned the right for us to wear His eternal righteousness. Now He gives us the right to be adopted so that we can wear the glorious robes of His righteousness and call His Father our Father. There is no reason for us to be anxious about anything, for we know that our gracious Father does indeed care for us and provide for us beyond all earthly measures. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.