᛭ INI ᛭
(5. Oops!: There’s always “Jesus and” in the heart of your Old Adam.)
Jesus and… There’s always “Jesus and” something else. Your Old Adam is good at that game. Your human heart is always in the business of setting up false gods, false hopes, false things to trust in. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9) The heart’s an idol factory.
You heard about some of this in our congregation at prayer readings this past week. There was the story of the Golden Calf. The Israelites always had some “other” lord going on besides Yahweh, that is, Jesus. The Golden Calf. Baal. Asherah. Molech.
You and I, too. We’re just like the people of Israel, but we no longer have statues but still false gods. There’s, of course, Jesus and good works. That’s self-righteousness. Where our standing with God or other people’s standing with God is no longer based 100% on Jesus crucified and raised for them but on their behavior toward us toward others.
Jesus turns our attention today to a specific false god. It’s the false god of mammon—our money and stuff. “You cannot serve God and money,” Jesus says. Jesus and money gives you not self-righteousness but self-reliance.
Both self-righteousness and self-reliance work the same. The “and something” becomes more important, comes before Jesus. To all these false gods, to each Golden Calf, to each report on grain prices, each bank account, each investment that we place our trust in, Jesus says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
(4. Ugh!: The “and something” is always temporary.)
Besides Jesus condemning your trust being based on how much or how little is in your bank account or retirement fund, there’s the reality that all our “and somethings,” each and every false god is temporary. Worthy of, makes you worthy of the oven, hell.
Our good works are temporary. Sure, they help our neighbor right now. That’s a good thing! But it’s not lasting. Works only last as long as you live or they live. A person’s obituary is really meaningless after all the survivors listed on them have their own obituaries.
Besides that, all the money we have and want and chase after is also temporary. You “must leave [everything] to the one who comes after [you.] And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? … This too is meaningless.” (Eccl 2) Your money, your car, your house, your farm are good gifts, but the LORD labels it—“meaningless.” As Psalm 62 puts it: “If riches increase, set not your heart on them.”
We think all the worlds riches are gold to hoard. But mammon, money, is a false good. It’s fools gold. It can’t keep any promises. It allures you with everything, but gives you nothing. Mammon makes you a slave unto death. Mammon’s reign is seen throughout our culture. Divorce rates are high. (Fights over money being a leading cause.) Marriage rates are decreasing; birth rates follow the same pattern. Debt loads are astonishing. Inflation’s rising. Worry is becoming fever-pitched. Grasping hold of mammon, you end up empty-handed, finally dead in the ground, after an unhealthy life of scraping up measly pleasures.
(3. Aha!: Jesus puts our “and something” before the mirror of His Law.)
Jesus calls heaven and earth as witness against you today, as He puts our hearts on trial. “Look at the birds.” “Consider the flowers.” “By the testimony of two or three witnesses every conviction is decided.”
“Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the justice of YAHWEH.” (Jer 8:7) We follow so many other things in our daily lives, making time for them, spending the money we often slave away to get. Never considering the Lord’s justice, His righteousness. What He demands of us in His Word. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever.” (Is 40:8) Money comes up short, but only God’s Word, His Word of Promise endures forever.
Now, we see what Jesus is doing in Matthew 6! He brings witnesses against us, “O you of little faith,” to condemn us. He wants you to despair of mammon’s, money’s, ability to help. It has no power to save you.
The Lord speaks His promise twice. “Your heavenly Father.” He’s not the Father of the birds, but He cares for each of them. “Not one falls apart from the Father.” “Even the sparrow finds a nest for herself.” (Ps 84:3) He didn’t clothe Solomon like the flowers. He cares for the grass, for the birds, and He didn’t give His Son to die for them. He did that for you, for “you of little faith.”
(2. Whee!: JESUS IS THE LORD WHO ACTUALLY SAVES YOU.)
Yes, you can’t serve two masters. There is only one Lord who can do anything for you that lasts. That’s not money. That’s Jesus.
JESUS IS THE LORD WHO ACTUALLY SAVES YOU.
He lives His entire life trusting His Father for daily bread FOR YOU. Jesus says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Even to His dying breath Jesus trusts, “Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit.” He is the One of great faith. His great faith is credited to your account, withdrawn by faith in Him.
The Lord Jesus, THE LORD WHO ACTUALLY SAVES YOU, doesn’t come up empty for you. He empties Himself for you. The First Commandment, the birds, the grass, the witnesses that condemn you, condemned Him, condemned Jesus. He bore our love of money, our thirst of always wanting more of it. He pays our debt of sin, a debt we can never pay with our good behavior, with His blood.
Jesus doesn’t come up empty. Only His tomb stands empty FOR YOU. JESUS IS THE LORD WHO ACTUALLY SAVES YOU. Not only from our sins about money, but from the death that such fools gold deserves. He pours out the true riches, the true righteousness. He gives you the Kingdom, brings you into it. Makes His heavenly Father your heavenly Father. You are baptized—daily promise of new life! He gives you the most precious thing in the universe: His blood. Far more precious than gold, than anything.
See how much JESUS IS THE LORD WHO ACTUALLY SAVES YOU!
(1. Yeah!: To this salvation Jesus “ands”—adds—daily bread for you until you fill out your days.)
But there’s more! Always more with Jesus. To this salvation Jesus “ands”—adds—daily bread for you until you fill out your days. Jesus “ands” not to decrease our faith in Him, but to increase it. (We do the opposite.) Jesus fills up our lives with temporary blessings and reminds us that they are temporary so that we use them properly: to love our neighbor. We love our neighbor by using our hard earned money for their sake. It’s why Jesus put that money and them in our life. Your family, your kids, this church, your community, whoever you may meet.
Your heavenly Father feeds birds, clothes the grass with flowers. He’ll take care of you, too. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” He will, and then He’ll do something no amount of money can ever do: He’ll bring you back to life, to live with Him forever with all who trust in Him alone.
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”