O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
More than you asked for
More than you asked for
Based on Luke 12:13-21
Preached on Oct 13, 2013
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Fellow baptized saints; may I have a glass of milk please? Thank you. (Straight face) I'd like to say that these words are always heard in my house. I mean, it would work so well for today's sermon, wouldn't it? You know, people politely asking for the things they would like, and then expressing thanksgiving should it be given to them. It would fit so well, don't you think?
Because today is Thanksgiving - or Harvest Celebration Sunday. It is the day we are supposed to stop and reflect on what we are thankful for. Maybe we'll ask the children to share something they are grateful for. Or maybe we'll write a list of the things for which we have gratitude. Have you ever done this before? It teaches you a lot about yourself, doesn't it? What sorts of things do you put on that list? Your family, your friends? Your job? Your house? Your car? We are definitely thankful for these things. God gives them to us. They are our daily bread, even though we speak of much more than bread. But there is something about these things, about this good daily bread God gives you, that makes it "daily." We call it daily bread, because it will not last. You have it today, but it may be gone tomorrow.
So why is it then, that the things that often top our list, are a bunch of things that may not be around next year? This is not to say we shouldn't be thankful for them. We are. But doesn't God give us anything that lasts? Why do the things that breakdown and die come to mind, when we are given things that will last forever? What kind of an investment is that?
In our Gospel lesson today, Jesus was surrounded by an enormous crowd, so many thousands of people that they were trampling one another, and out of this huge gathering some guy said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."
And as was often the case, Jesus used this comment as an opportunity to teach them a parable. He said, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' 18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."
Now, typically when Jesus tells us a parable, we are left scratching our noggins wondering what He means. But not with this parable. This has got to be the easiest parable that Jesus ever taught. In fact, you know exactly what He is teaching you: Greed is bad. Yep, wanting stuff - not good for you. In fact, it is dangerous. It kills your childlike faith. And what's more, as God says in the parable - It's foolish! For none of your things can be taken with you. You look wiser when you are chasing after the wind. You see, you are a Bible scholar. You've got this parable on lockdown.
But why? Why is this parable so easy for us to understand? Because this is the way we think. This is the way we invest. Our first thoughts are about what we want, even though it may not be around next year, even if it will breakdown and die. We want stuff, we want money, and we want it now. Because we believe the promises money makes. Life will be better if you have more money. It will be easier. You will feel more secure. You'll have more friends. But these promises are false. They never deliver the peace they boast about. Having more money means having more problems. It comes with new worries, as we see with the rich man and his barns. It makes you lonely. And then there's that nagging question: when is enough enough? And when you get there, will it be enough? It really is like chasing the wind. You will never catch it.
Now at this point, old Adam is whispering within you, "It's a good thing I'm not greedy." But you are. Just think back to your most thankful list. It's a list of daily bread. All daily bread. Not eternal life, the Word of God, the Lord's Supper, my baptism. Not the birth of Jesus my Savior. His innocent life. His brutal suffering and death in my place. Not His grace and forgiveness. His glorious resurrection. His ascension to the power seat of creation, and His constant defense of me before the Father in heaven. Just a bunch of stuff that may not be around next year. That's what really comes to mind. We aren't even asking for anything else. Friends, you and I are like the man in the parable. The Lord of heaven and earth stands before us and we ask for half an earthly inheritance. May I have a glass of milk? Then, He tells us greed is bad, and the text ends. What, is that it Lord? Greed is bad, and your teaching ends? Where is the good news? Where is the Gospel?
In the most fascinating of places, in that rogue comment that started everything off - "Teacher, tell my brother to share his inheritance with me." This must've been so much fun for Jesus. I am your brother. I am the Son of Man. And yes, you can have my inheritance. But I'm going to have to take yours first. In fact, that is the reason I'm here. I'm here to share inheritances. To trade.
But do you know what yours is? Do you know what you have inherited from your father Adam? A curse. Sin and death. A greedy mind. That is why you think the way you do. Yes, mankind you have an inheritance, and that's the funny thing about an inheritance. You don't ask for it. You are born into it. The inheritance is yours, simply by being born. But I have been born. I have come to share it, to take your curse, and your sin and your death into my flesh on the tree. And I give you my inheritance in return.
But do you know what mine is? Do you know what I have inherited from my Father? Yes I am the Son of Man, but I am also the Son of God. Heaven is my inheritance. The eternal kingdom of God. All the riches ever. Even myself. You were never going to ask for me, but my gracious Father sent Me anyway. He sent Me to die for your greed, that you might live by His grace. He sent Me to suffer for your wanting heart, that you might be restored by His giving heart. You were never supposed to worry about yourself, for that is God's job. All your worrying produces is waste, full barns that you cannot take with you. But God gives you more than you asked for. He gives you eternal gifts. He gives you Me.
Oh, I want this so bad Lord, but you said it yourself, you don't ask for an inheritance, you are born into it. How can I ever have this eternal inheritance you promise? Can I enter a second time into my mother's womb? Truly, truly I say to you unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. You have been born into it - in the waters of Holy Baptism. You are God's child, and co-heirs with Christ of a kingdom that will never end. Your heavenly Father no longer sees your greed, for in your baptism, He sees Christ. You are baptized into Christ. Thank the Lord! Give thanks to His holy Name which has been spoken upon you and has secured you an everlasting throne. Your Father has given you Jesus.
And if all this were not enough, you are about to partake of His Holy Eucharist. This old Greek word for the Lord's Supper means thanksgiving. You are about to participate in the true thanksgiving - the Eucharist of Christ's body and blood. There may be a lot of things you are thankful for today, but the only thing that will never go away is your Jesus. The One you have not asked for - that is given for you. Take, eat, this is my body, given for you. Take, drink, this is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of all of your sins. Thank you Lord Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr