In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
This morning our Lord Jesus poses a
question to you. “What do you seek: The things of this life, or the Kingdom of God?” In other words, what is most important to you: This life, with all its
selfishness and perversion, pain and suffering, tears and sorrow, sickness and
death—this life which will one day surely end? Or is it eternal life with our
God in heaven, an eternal life of never-ending joy and peace?
Another way Jesus might have put it is:
To whom do you cling? Is it Mammon, a god of false promises and false security,
a god who can never completely deliver on any assurances of comfort and
well-being in this life?
Or do you cling to the One True
God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who has provided you all good things needed
for this body and life, and will continue to do so?
These are important questions, for your
answer will determine your eternal home. Your answer indicates to what your
heart clings; and that to which your heart clings is your god.
Therefore, Jesus tells His disciples, “No
one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other,
or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God
and Mammon.” (Matthew 6:24, NKJV)
You cannot serve two masters, at least not
wholeheartedly. Both masters will demand your total devotion, and you will be
painfully torn until you give up on one and give your total loyalty to the
If you attempt to strike some sort of
middle ground, you will fail to satisfy either. Or, you will alternately be
consumed by one and be unfaithful to the other, or will end up moving toward
one and abandoning the other. So, which is it for you? To whom, or to what, do you
Give it some serious thought. Do you
desire Mammon over the true God? Is your concern over your next paycheck or
retirement check? Is your desire for God, more often than not, overcome by your
desire to sleep in, or to go to breakfast? Is your desire more for the things
of this creation than for the creator Himself?
If Jesus asked you to forsake all you
have, to take up your cross, and follow Him, would you be willing to give up
that extra car, the motorcycle, your house, your boat, your property on the
lake, your pets, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren?
Jesus did, you know. Jesus did ask
you to forsake all things. For it is written, “Then Jesus said to His
disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross, and follow Me…For what profit is it to a man if he gains the
whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for
his soul?’” (Matthew 16: 24; 26, NKJV)
Now please do not misunderstand me. I am
not saying that you should sell all you own, get a divorce, abandon your
children, shave your head, and join a monastery or convent. Neither is Jesus.
He gave you those vocations, and He expects you to fulfill them to the best of
your ability, for as long as He gives you this life. But what Jesus is saying
is that these perishable things of this life are not to be honored, desired,
and coveted above God. Rather, they are to be viewed as His gifts, and meshed
into His plan for your life.
You see, Mammon, in and of itself, is not
a bad thing. Mammon is nothing more than money or treasures, great or small.
It’s the simple earthly goods and possessions with which we live out our lives
as we go about our vocations in service to God and neighbor. But Mammon is
dangerous, because our things so easily can become the focus of our
happiness—to the point of damaging and eventually destroying our relationship
For a time, we may fool ourselves into
believing that we can serve both God and Mammon. We tell ourselves that once we
get enough set aside to buy that home; then we can attend church on a
regular basis. Or we tell ourselves summer is so short; it is a shame not to
fully enjoy it. Church can wait until summer is over, then we will spend
time with God.
Often, we fool ourselves into thinking
that we are being good parents if we run our children all over this patch of
God’s creation, so they can attend this sporting event or that school function,
et cetera, et cetera. If it means missing church because everyone is just too
tired to attend worship, we can rationalize that. Besides, there is just too
much to do nowadays, and not enough time to do it.
When the kids are grown up and gone, then
we will attend church more regularly. But in too many cases, the day when there
will be more time for God never comes. Not only that, you’ve left a legacy:
What do you think you taught your children about the importance of God during
all those years of other priorities?
No, serving both God and Mammon is
impossible. You cannot love Mammon—your possessions, your time, and money, in
short, your life—and give God His due time. Either your devotion and love will
be with your worldly commitments and money and pleasures, or your loyalty and
love will be with God and His Word and His heavenly gifts. “No one can
serve two masters.”
So, we are really left with just two
options. There are only two masters, two gods. As I asked you before, to which
do you cling? Martin Luther tells us in the Large Catechism, “If your
faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God. On the other hand, if
your faith and trust are wrong, then you have not the true God. For these two
belong together, faith and God.” (The First Commandment, Large
Do you serve Mammon, allowing him to order
your day and cause you to worry over things you cannot control?
Do you chase after the wind of his
promises only to find that you never seem to have enough money, time, or
Or do you serve the God who feeds the
birds of the air, though they do not toil? This is the same God who brought
Abraham’s children through the wilderness and the sea, rescuing them from the
hand of Pharaoh. This is the God who fed those same people with bread from
heaven without their toil or sweat. This is the God who fed the widow of
Zarephath, the Prophet Elijah, her son, and her entire household from an
inexhaustible bin of flour and jar of oil, all without toil.
Do you serve the God who clothes the
lilies of the field in greater glory than Solomon, though they neither toil nor
spin? This is the same God who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and made man,
that is, who took on human flesh—for you. He is the same God who was crucified
under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried—for you. He is the same
God who rose again on that first Easter Morning and then ascended to the
Father; all this He did for you. This is the same God who promises to
return for you and call you, body and soul, to be with Him in His Kingdom, all
without your toil.
Do you seek His Kingdom and righteousness?
Until the promised day of Jesus’ return, where is it we find the Kingdom of God? We find His Kingdom here, in this Holy House, where Jesus is truly present
among us. Wherever Jesus is present, there one finds the Kingdom of God. For He and the Father are one, and where you find Jesus and His heavenly
Father, you find also the Holy Spirit, for the Godhead cannot be divided.
And where you find the Holy Trinity, there
you find the One True God. There you find the Kingdom of God.
And it is also here, in this place, where
you will find God’s righteousness. Here, Jesus—the the Righteousness of God in
the flesh—is bodily present with us, giving us His gifts of Word and Sacrament,
which bring to us forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Here, that
Righteousness is poured over us in blessed Holy Baptism. Here, we are cleansed
from sin and our impure garments removed so that we are clothed in the garments
of Christ’s righteousness. You see, in Baptism, God adorns you in a garment
far greater in beauty than even the lilies of the field can boast; He robes you
with His very own righteousness, and it is both beautiful and perfect.
That very same righteousness is placed
upon your tongue, and poured into your mouth, in receiving Jesus’ Holy Body and
Blood in His Supper. This is the same Body and Blood which unceasingly pleads
for us before the Mercy Seat of God. Therefore, with the entire Church of
heaven and earth we can sing:
Jesus Thy Blood and
My beauty are, my glorious
Mid flaming worlds, in
With joy shall I lift up my
head. (LSB 563)
Therefore, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
(Matthew 6:33, NKJV)
So it is that—as God’s people—we do not
have to worry about what we will eat or what we will drink, because Jesus has
promised to feed us daily with the Living Bread which comes down from heaven,
and to satisfy our thirst with living water, with His Blood poured out for the
remission of our sins.
Bodily hunger and thirst, indeed, may
come. Even so, we rest on Jesus’ Words: “Whoever eats My flesh and
drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For
My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and
drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me and I
live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of
me.” (John 6:54-57, NKJV)
These are the Words of eternal life. These
are the things of Jesus. Therefore, seek the Kingdom of God by receiving the
things of Jesus, the King of kings, and the King of God’s Kingdom.
Be at peace, dear Christians. The day is
not far off when we, too, will cast off our mortal nature—this perishable flesh
and blood of our mortal bodies—and don new, everlasting clothing in the
resurrection of our flesh on the Last Day.
For it is written, “…this perishable
body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on
immortality…then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is
swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your
sting’…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-56, ESV)
Thanks indeed be to Jesus and the Father
and the Holy Spirit, even now, because God’s message of salvation and His
Kingdom have already come among us. How do you know? Because you have confessed
your sins, and you have heard Him say, “I forgive you all your sins.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.