July 31, 2016
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Another parable. Another gift. All things are gift in this parable. The parable is all about gifts! It’s not a do-this-do-that parable. You could read it that way, but in the end you’d be where you began: not rich toward God, with hearts, hands, and head groping for the abundance of things and what you do and don’t do.
((3. All that we have is a good gift from Jesus.))
You gain nothing for yourself. Not one thing. This is contrary to how we naturally think. It’s the way of the world. You earn what have. You earn your paycheck. If you put enough hard work into something, you’ll get what you deserve: a good grade, a bonus, a promotion, a spot on the team. But it all must be given as gift. You don’t gain it! How did the Israelites gain all their riches when they left Egypt? It wasn’t their hard work or their great faith in what Yahweh was doing to save them that got them gold and riches. It wasn’t even that the Israelites asked for it, but it was all YHWH’s work that it did it! “I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor…articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” Who gave you your body? Your smarts, your senses, your strength? Who gives you your daily bread, from the clothes on your back to your house and even what’s on the dinner table? JESUS is the source of all these gifts. By Him all things were made as the Scriptures confess, and that means you and all you have. God JESUS, is the Gift-Giver, who showers each and every good gift upon you from the Father of Lights.
((2. We view the gifts as due.))
Our problem is that we trust the gifts and not the Giver of the Gifts. We don’t trust JESUS—not completely, not with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The gift, the harvest, the spot on the team, the scholarship, the family, the money is more important to us than the Giver. We’re bound and burdened by our stuff. Why else do we horde and worry about what is given to us? It’s as if it’s ours, as if we gained it. We deserve it. We’re entitled to it. It needs to be guarded, protected. Who knows if it will be this way again. I don’t know! My job is kind of iffy, but I got the bonus. But next year the rain might not be there, the company could close or move. I need to store up, “I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'” But none of it’s yours. It’s JESUS’ good gift. He gives it to you. Sure build a bigger barn. That’s His gift too. Not as proof that you did a good job or that He loves you. Your gift is your gift; your neighbor’s is your neighbor’s gift. The Father of Lights gives specifically, knowingly, lovingly to each of you according to his goodwill. It’s his barn, his house, his car. You’ve received small; your neighbor’s received big. To whom much is given much is expected. Oh, the LORD could give you exactly what you want. Judge you, hand you over to your things. You think the gift is your due, your wage, and you want more of that? Well, you may already be well off, but you get more and more and more. I’ve done it. It’s mine. “Yes, it’s yours,” the LORD may say, but then, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, every promotion, every spot on every team, but forfeits his soul?
((1. Jesus gives in spite of you.))
But all that you have is gift from JESUS. All from Him to you. You’re not God. JESUS is. He gives. You receive. What can you do to gain anything? What we do is the means God uses to give, but it’s not the source. What did you do to get your skill? What did you do to make photosynthesis work? What did you do to make your mind sharp? What did the Israelites do to get their manna? Oh, they may have gone out and worked, gathering what each one needed according to the size of his house. But did their going out every morning except on the Sabbath make the manna appear? Did Adam tending the Garden of Eden make it appear? Make fruit grow on the trees of the Garden? JESUS supplied all of that. JESUS gives more than enough, especially for your salvation. The man JESUS is God—The Gift and the Giver of gifts. He gifted Himself to you and to the world by becoming man to save us from our trust in things. His death and resurrection is the richest of all treasures that He also delivers to you. You don’t work for it. Nothing you do earns it. What made baptism save you? What makes the absolution open heaven for you? What makes the Supper Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins? Do you the night it’s faith? Yeah, you didn’t have anything to do with that either. It’s all JESUS giving of His eternal riches. God could give you what you want, but JESUS gives you what He wants, and He wants to make you rich toward a God, rich in Him.
JESUS GIVES YOU ALL GOOD THINGS AND MAKES YOU ETERNALLY RICH.
Yes, your things and skills are gifts. Gifts from God. Not as a sign He loves you more or less than another. He pours them out individually, specifically, and lovingly on you. He works to make you rich toward Him, continually giving you the exact things that do it! Not your work. Not your due or payment. No entitlements here. Not in gold or silver but in His innocent suffering and death delivered to you with His holy, precious body and blood in the Supper are riches eternal for You.
INI + AMEN.