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Jesus Got You!

August 11, 2019
By Rev. Peter Heckert

+ Grace to you, and peace, from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. + Amen.

The text for our meditation is from our Gospel text, where Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. … Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Here ends our text; dear Christian friends…

I’m about to ask a very stupid question – it’s a stupid question because I already know the answer: have you ever worried about something? See? Stupid question. Of course you’ve worried about things before; you’re probably worried about things now! It doesn’t matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in. Parents, you know worry in an exceptional way, not only for your children, but also for your parents, your spouse, your siblings. Children, you know the worries of school and family life, trying to make things work together. Teachers and professors, heh, you know worry quite intimately, especially as classes begin again for this year. Let’s be honest – everyone worries. And thus it’s not unreasonable for the human ear to hear what Jesus has just said as a very damning word of law. “As a Christian, thou shalt not worry, and if you do, you’re sinning!” Fair enough – we all know we’re sinners, and perhaps our worry is yet another reminder of our need for Jesus. However, I think there’s more to this text than it being yet another needed reminder of our abject sinfulness and the necessity of Jesus’s vicarious work.

We’re right on the heels of the text from last week. Remember? Jesus told a large crowd the parable of the rich fool and his barns, and the lethality of selfishness, greed, and covetousness. Well, now Jesus tells His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” It sounds like Jesus is tacking on a prohibition against worry to His condemnation of the rich man’s foolishness and selfishness. But Jesus doesn’t end there, just throwing it out there as a universal requirement for humanity to accomplish, “Don’t worry!” He follows this saying up with some rather beautiful words of promise.

“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” To humans, ravens are not worth much. They’re scavengers, and have, in the past, actually been problematic to certain human populations. But they are nevertheless a part of God’s good-but-now-broken creation. God created them with the rest of the birds of the air. He knows each and every feather and scale. He knit them together as they incubated in their eggs. He’s given them remarkable intelligence – some studies have shown that ravens have problem solving capabilities. They beckon larger carnivores to a carcass, allowing the more capable creatures to break into the carrion in ways the ravens could not. They are able to survive on just about any diet. They mate for life in monogamous relationships, helping each other to rear their young and fiercely protecting them. No, ravens don’t build storehouses, but they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and make no mistake: they are provided for by their Creator.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow,” Jesus says a few sentences later. “[T]hey neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Flowers of the field aren’t exactly pragmatic. They don’t produce anything, really. You can eat rose hips and petals, but that’s not what they’re generally used for. They’re made for smelling, for looking, and none of that lasts all that long. All you need is a week of intense heat with no rain, and usually these little creations will wilt up and die – no longer lovely to the nose (unless one likes the smell of decay), no longer pleasing to the eye. All they’re good for at that point is either to be thrown on the trash heap or into the fire for a tiny bit of fuel. Yet God our heavenly Father went through the trouble to cause the seed to germinate, to take root, to put up their cotyledons, to absorb the nutrients and water from the ground, to receive the sunlight and carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis, and to grow into a healthy plant that displays all manner of color, pattern, and fragrance in beauty and splendor. Any gardener, any botanist will tell you the incredible complexity and wonder that goes into the sprouting of a plant. And the Creator made them with care, certainly providing them with all they need to thrive and survive.

“Of how much more value are you than the birds! … if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith!” This is the objective reality, my friends. God takes care of His creation, even those creations we don’t consider as having much value or worth. If God takes care of these “lesser” creatures with such intricate attention and intentional provision … don’t you think that He will care for all your needs as well? You, a human being, created in God’s own image, created as the pinnacle of His creation in order to work with Him to care for His creation? Won’t He answer your needs, as well?

Of course He will! Of course He does, on a daily basis! We confess this in the Apostles Creed; hear again Luther’s explanation for the First Article:” I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” You’ve got a roof over your head, breath in your lungs, food in your belly, people who love you … you are certainly provided for by the Creator and Sustainer of all things!

All this is well and good, but people still die. There comes a time for all things in creation where food is no longer of any use, where a roof is no longer needed, where air is of no consequence to the lungs that will no longer work and the heart that no longer beats. Pending the eschaton, we will all taste the bitterness of death … and STILL … God provides for our needs. How? By addressing our deepest need: atonement. The One who is speaking with the disciples about the ravens and the flowers and God’s intimate caretaking of those good and beautiful creations is also the One who would, not too long from this point, care for our eternal need. Man brought sin into this world, and through sin came death. We were hopeless, helpless, and damned, but no longer. Jesus made atonement, paying the debt we owed and could never pay. His sacrifice on the cross means that you no longer bear that punishment. You are atoned for, forgiven all your sins! Your greatest need … cared for! The One who knit you together in your mother’s womb with His own hands had those hands pierced to take care of you!

Bearing all this in mind, why worry? I don’t say this with the absurd understanding that we can live worry-free. We can’t; we’re still fallen sinners. But, we don’t need to worry. Why? Because Jesus got you. He bought you with His precious blood, gave His life for yours, and washed you in His death and resurrection in the waters of Holy Baptism. He also provides for every other blessing you enjoy in life! This isn’t blind optimism, “prosperity gospel” nonsense. Neither is this a word of Law, saying “Thou shalt not worry!” It’s a promise, the objective truth: God cares for His creation, including you, and He’s cared for your greatest need, on top of all other needs you have. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom! Why? Because Jesus loves you, and He’s got you!

+ In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. + Amen.