The Father Knows
St. Matthew 6:24-34
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
St. Matthew 6:31-32 “Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our Lord… Please do not take this comment the wrong way, but I would venture to guess that most of you were not really thinking about the words to the hymn you just sang. For that matter, I would also guess that most people who attend church do not normally sit and ponder intently the depths and riches of all the words of the liturgy, the readings or the hymns. If you did that, I dare say you would be here for many, many hours each week – which would not be a bad thing, mind you, but little else would get done in your life.
Now, as much as I would love to invite you all to sit back and be prepared to stay here all day long as together we discuss and ponder all the riches of our wonderful liturgical heritage – a heritage that is second to none in all of Christendom; and as much as I would love to invite you to stay here all day tomorrow to begin to discuss and ponder the riches of historical Lutheran hymnody – a heritage which, again, is second to none; and as much as I would love to invite you to stay here all week and discuss and ponder the meanings of all the readings for just this week, I won’t do that.
Instead, I invite you to join with me for these few minutes as we consider the fact that we heard in today’s Gospel: the Father knows. God the Father in heaven knows your needs and well provides for them, even the ones you may not even realize you have. Along with that train of thought we will also consider and give thanks to God even for the things we may not realize that are good for us all the time.
Today’s Gospel reading is a familiar text that, among other things, encourages God’s people simply to stop worrying about the cares and troubles of this life and to trust and believe in Jesus. Worry can only make you sick. Trust in God through Christ can only make you well.
These words of our Lord come toward the end of what we know as the Beatitudes, the fabulous teaching of our Lord contained in the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew. Jesus is addressing His disciples, and many others are hearing His words. In this particular section of Matthew 6 Jesus makes it abundantly clear that you can have only one God in whom you trust at any given time. He makes it clear that you can have only one loyalty, and that you are fooling yourself if you think otherwise. It is ultimately a teaching on the First Commandment: You shall have no other gods.
Jesus starts out by saying, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Now, mammon is earthly riches – money, to be sure, and all the things we can buy with it. And far from condemning it, we recognize how important money is to everyone. Without it you cannot purchase food, drink, clothing or shoes, house, home, land, animals or anything you have. Without money you cannot pay your bills. Money is extremely important in your life, whether or not you are willing to admit it. And for all of us, from time to time – and some are worse than others – money is a god; it is something we simply cannot do without, and it is something that all too often takes the place of the one true God because, for some people, it IS more important than God.
Consider this: your money and the stuff you buy with it is not your own; it is a gift from God, however you have it. Whether you are employed or on a pension or on a fixed income or only receive an allowance, you are being gifted by God with the ability to support the work of the church. If you are doing so, fine. If you know you are falling short of what you can do, then repent of that, change your ways, and make a difference.
Listen to what Jesus says to His disciples: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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?”
Do not worry. Do not make things or money your god. Repent of not trusting God – the One who made you and who knows more about you than you do. Repent of not trusting God to take on your worries and to take care of you. Repent of trusting yourself. Repent of believing that you are in control of your life. Repent of being selfish with your money and goods and thinking that they are yours to do with as you please.
God feeds the birds of the air. They don’t go hungry or naked; neither will you. God takes care of the lilies of the field; you are much more valuable than they. God clothes the grass of the field; He will most certainly clothe you, O you of little faith. You may not have the clothes and kinds of food you WANT, but you will have the covering for your body and the food for your stomach that you NEED.
And all of this is provided first and foremost in the righteousness of Christ. Seek God’s righteousness – which is nothing other than simply trusting in Jesus. In Jesus you are clothed with the robe of His righteousness – a robe stained with His sacrificial blood given up for you on the cross when He died for all your sins. In Christ you are given the constant food and nourishment of His body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar – the best food for either your body or your soul, for it is real, true, and authentic, and it gives you what you cannot receive from anything else in this world – it gives you forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
Seeking those things FIRST instead of lusting after earthly clothing and food, you have more than you will ever need for this life. Believe Jesus when He says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” His Word is true no matter what earthly circumstances you face. His Word is true; it always does what it says, and it never fails. Of that you can be absolutely certain.
One of the things you may have missed in the hymn of the day, “What God Ordains Is Always Good,” is this wonderful line in the third stanza: “No poison can be in the cup that my Physician sends me.”
Remembering Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, you will recall that He said to His Father, “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from Me.” In those words our Lord was asking if there was a way that He did not have to suffer horribly for your sins and mine. His “cup” was the necessity that He endure this hellish torture in order to free all mankind from eternal damnation. His “cup” was what He was given by His Father in heaven to endure.
So also, you have a “cup.” Your “cup” is also to endure whatever it is that Lord has seen fit to lay upon you. It may be physical weakness, it may be disease, it may be personal struggles that only you and God know about; whatever it is, God knows it. He also knows that through faith and trust in Him and not in yourself you will endure to the end. No poison can be in that cup which the Lord has given you, for He will be with you in it.
But there is another cup – the cup of the Lord’s blood along with His body in the Sacrament of the Altar. You may never fear anything that is in this cup, for the Lord’s body and blood are for your forgiveness, life, and salvation. How can anyone possibly believe that this cup is harmful? How can anyone possibly believe that you don’t need this cup as often as humanly possible? How can anyone possibly believe that bread, wine, body and blood are only received sparingly and infrequently when those are the very things that deliver exactly and abundantly what all sinners so desperately need? To deny that you need this cup is to deny that you are a sinner; and that is to lie to yourself and about God.
Hear again this wonderful Gospel truth in the words you all sang: “No poison can be in the cup that my Physician sends me.” Your Physician is the Great Physician, the Lord God Himself who, in this cup, gives you His very body and blood for your good. No germs, no viruses, not even the Aids virus can withstand the blood of the Lord under wine and given in the precious metals of silver and gold. Even the scientific and biological community has concluded that it is nearly impossible, even under the most favorable conditions, to contract any disease at all by receiving the Lord’s blood in the common cup.
Dear friends, put away your fears. Put away your sickening worries. Stop fussing about your closet and your plate and your pantry and your wallet. Stop acting like unbelievers who have no God in whom to trust. That’s not what you have been given to do.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” and remember, Jesus and His gifts is what God’s righteousness is all about. Trust in God. Believe in Jesus. Receive His gifts. And by this you will be blessed beyond measure, for you will have all the things you truly need. In Him you have all you will EVER need.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.