INI + AMEN.
Where there’s a kingdom, there’s a king. If there’s a king, then there’s a kingdom. And there is a kingdom. Well, two. Jesus talks about them today. We don’t have much use for kings, though. They cramp our style. Our American sensibilities reject kings. Even the idea of kings is foreign to us. The idea that someone else has control over us instead of us, is well, offensive.
There’s the true Kingdom, with the True King. There’s also a false kingdom, with a king that has no lasting power. You’re either in one kingdom or the other. You can’t be in both kingdoms. You can’t have two kings. There’s no dual citizenship. You’re either under king nothing, or you’re ruled by the one true King. And we don’t like that at all.
We want it both ways—two kings, two kingdoms. We fool ourselves into thinking that’s how kingdoms work. That you can choose this, choose that. We make everything about personal choice, personal agency, personal preferences. I like this, don’t like that. But you’re not king. You’re not! As a citizen, you’re either ruled by one king or the other. As a servant, you’ve only got one master. It’s not possible to have two. If you think you can, well, then you need to take that up with Jesus. He says, “No one can serve two masters.” Anything else is unbelieving foolishness.
((2. The false kingdom and its king.))
The false kingdom is a kingdom of death. It’s the kingdom that bleeds you dry, that grinds you down, that cleans you out, that uses you up. It’s the kingdom of cold, hard cash. The kingdom of stuff, of food, of clothing, of always more. It’s the kingdom of worry. Where enough is never enough. Where there’s always one more job, one more chore, one more task, to try and eek out one more dollar.
There’s no true love in this kingdom. Love doesn’t come from comparison, from being used up. Love isn’t “look what I gave you.” Love isn’t “I did all this, and set aside at least a little time for you.” That sort of “love” is why marriages run short, kids despise their parents, why everyone compares to everyone else based on how much they do or don’t do, how much they have or don’t have.
It all comes from the false king. Master mammon—the demon of desire, of money, of death. He will grind you down, keep you down. He tells you that the more him you have, the less worry you’ll have. But that’s not true! Things are tight because there’s not enough rain, too much rain, grain’s too low, interest’s too high. So, you’ve gotta do more. More better. More better with less.
That’s mammon. Grinding you down, bleeding you dry. Cold, loveless, harsh—all the way until you’re cold and lifeless. And what comes of it all? It all gets thrown into the fire. Sure we know we don’t get to keep our stuff. But we get to leave it for someone. But even if you’re family tree made it all the way until the Last Day, all this stuff just gets burned up and gone forever. In fact, you won’t even be remembered 50, 60, 70 years from now.
((1. The true Kingdom and true King.))
But there’s another King, a different Kingdom. The other King isn’t like mammon. He doesn’t rule through worry. He doesn’t grind you down, use you up, bleed you dry. He doesn’t wipe out those who are under mammon’s rule. He doesn’t even try and lure you out of it. (Not that that would work anyway, sadly.) No, He just takes mammon on. He brings something to the table that’s far more precious than the dead and lifeless gold and silver of mammon’s kingdom—“holy, precious blood.” He doesn’t kill but is killed. He’s bled dry. He’s ground down. Stone-cold dead. Lifeless. Buried in a stone-cold tomb. For you.
That’s your Master, your God, your Savior, your Jesus. That’s how you’re “of more value” than the birds. He brings you into “the kingdom of God,” gives you “His righteousness.” You have no King, no God, no Master but Him. He made it so. In Holy Baptism you received an eternal garment. And He feeds you with eternal food. The very price He paid—“His holy, precious blood”—is delivered into your mouth. That’s the true Kingdom and true King. He fills you with life, with love, and He won’t grind you down to nothing, but when you are nothing, when you’re dead, He will resurrect you on the Last Day. That’s the promise of His Baptism-delivered righteousness, and the promise of His life-blood that endures and makes you body and soul endure past the fire of the Last Day.
He’s claimed you as His own. You’re eternally clothed and fed. So, of course He’ll give you what you need to live your life now. Why wouldn’t He? He feeds the birds. Clothes the flowers. How much more you? When all humanity was in mammon’s kingdom, and happily so, the Creator of the universe came, gave His life, and now gives you His very own body and blood. Daily bread is easy. He gifts that to everyone—even people who don’t trust in Him.
You can trust the gift. Make it your king, your master. Order your life by stuff, chores, and career. But the gift will grind you down, eat you up. That’s what mammon does. But the true King has come and gifted you with Himself, His Kingdom, His righteousness, His body and blood. He’ll certainly give you what you need. Then if you have more than you need, you see it for what it is—gift! Gift given to be given. There true generosity—not from obligation or fear or guilt or worry, but from love. “Especially for those of the household of faith,” as Paul says. Gift and offering given so people can hear the Gospel preached, come to Sunday School, go to Bible class, receive Jesus’ body and blood.
Where there’s a kingdom, there’s a king. If there’s a king, then there’s a kingdom. And there is a kingdom. Well, two. There’s mammon and his kingdom. A kingdom of worry and death. There you’re ground down, used up, worked to the bone, bled dry. That’s a false kingdom, one that doesn’t last.
There is a true king and true kingdom. THE TRUE KINGDOM IS THE ONE OF JESUS AND HIS BLOOD. Jesus reigns in this Kingdom. He is King who was crowned with thrones, enthroned on a cross, bled, died for you. His blood—the true riches! Nothing compares with that. The Creator of the universe wanted you to receive that. He orders His Kingdom by the giving, shedding, and giving out of that. If He gives you that, He’ll supply your daily bread, too. Why wouldn’t He?
THE TRUE KINGDOM IS THE ONE OF JESUS AND HIS BLOOD. That Kingdom, that King is here today for you.
INI + AMEN.