Old Testament Lesson Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-26
Second Lesson Colossians 3:1-11
Gospel Lesson Luke 12:13-21
Grace, mercy, and peace; from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. The text for our meditation this day is the Gospel lesson just read. [Luke 12:13-21]
This past week Patricia and I finally got around to doing something we’d put off for a long time, for years. We finally made an appointment to update our wills. I hate thinking about wills. I hate taking the time to list my assets and my debts. I hate having to decide who should get what and whether it should be an even split or be doled out by some complicated scheme; giving more to those in need and less to those who are doing well. I just don’t like thinking all that much about money.
There’s only one thing I dislike more than working on wills. I dread shopping for cars. You may have noticed our two cars are eleven and twenty years old. It’s not because I like old cars particularly; it’s because I can’t stand shopping for cars.
When I shop for cars it takes way too much of my time. Last time, the instant we showed up on the lot, they were out there, the salesmen; trying to be helpful, trying to ensure we got the car we really wanted, even though we had no idea which car that might be. Oh, we knew the kind of car we needed and that was what was most important to us. We needed a reliable, cheap car that would cost a minimal amount to maintain.
And so, we told them the maximum price we were willing to spend, and although they acknowledged that max, they started showing us cars starting at twice that price. We told them again, the maximum we could afford, and they showed us cars 50% more than that price. We tried again to communicate just how much we were willing to spend, and eventually; after several tries, we finally got around to looking at cars that were closer to the ‘maximum’ amount we originally told them.
Salesmen love to get you to negotiate; they start high and hope you’ll weaken before you finally get to that maximum you told them. Of course, in my case, and I’m sure it’s the same with many of you, this technique only brings out the stubborn streak in us; we hold our ground more and more tightly, and the time drags on and on. But, we hang in there, because we want it all.
We want that used car that looks brand new; and we want to pay what that car will be worth 10 years from now when we’re thinking about selling it ourselves. We don’t like negotiation. We want all or nothing. But, in this life, if you’re an all or nothing kind of person, be careful; because just when you think you’ve got it all, you may be surprised to find out that you don’t.
Oh, people may look at you and think you’ve got it all, maybe even admiring how successful you are because they see your position, or they envy the authority that position brings, or maybe they simply dream of having what you have. In our world we measure success by our possessions, and true happiness comes by having more than the next guy.
But the reality is that the more we have, the more time we spend worrying about how to keep it; worrying about how to stop the government from taxing it away, worrying about how to stop someone else from taking it away; whether we’re talking about our possessions, or our jobs, the more we have or the higher we climb up that corporate ladder, the more we worry about protecting what’s ours.
That was the problem the rich man had in Jesus’ parable. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 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. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
But he never had the chance to enjoy his wealth. God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ When we base our wealth on earthly possessions, it’s never a sure thing. And so the parable ends with Jesus saying, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Our world’s view of wealth and possessions is so different, even opposite, of God’s view. Look at Jesus. He took everything he had, and set it aside. He left his throne at the right hand of God the Father and came down from heaven, becoming a lowly, common, baby … for you. The creator of the universe, leaving the glory and honor that was his; and becoming a penniless missionary with no place to call home. The author of all earthly authority, the one who establishes all governments, the one who brings peace and harmony to all people, rejected and despised by the very people he came to save.
Our Lord and Savior lived as one who had nothing at all, in order to gain all, for us. He gave up everything he had for us, to gain, for us, the one thing we could never possess on our own; the forgiveness of our sins. With this forgiveness he brings us victory over death and he guarantees us eternal life.
His was a life lived in direct opposition to the idea that having it all brings happiness; but then he never thought about his own happiness, his every thought was for us. He rescued us all by giving up all that he had, even his life, for us. Even though he had the power to keep it all for himself, he gave up his life for us; so that we might not die but have eternal life, so that we might be with him forever in heaven.
God takes nothing from us but gives us His grace; he takes nothing and yet he gives us everything; everything we need and everything he has. He gives us his one and only Son; he gives us himself. Before we knew Him, we had nothing at all. Even though, in our sin, we strived to have everything; in truth what we gained was nothing; our possessions looked great to us, our life in the world looked great to us, but in fact we were enslaved to sin and defeated by death. But, then the Holy Spirit came to us in our Baptism, burying us with Christ, as we died to the things of this world and gained new life in Christ; the one possession that’s truly valuable. We rose from the font, with Christ, and with the knowledge that we no longer needed or wanted what the world has to offer.
We have everything we need right now, because we belong to Christ, right now. And as we continue our journey on this earth, spreading the good news, serving the Lord in our vocations each and every day, we’re strengthened and sustained by Christ. Our faith growing stronger through the hearing of his holy Word; our bodies and souls sustained by his own body and blood as he unites us with himself, so that we may be guided in paths of righteousness, kept in the one true faith to life eternal.
Our life in Christ is a portion of that treasure laid up for us in heaven. A life so opposite from anything we experience in the world. A life that contains nothing so onerous that you want to put it off for years, nothing to dread like shopping for cars. In Christ, we need no means of negotiation, we need no down payment, and there’s no deals to cut. The deal’s closed. It’s over, it’s done, there’s nothing left for you to do.
The bill for your salvation was nailed to that cross, and the bill’s been paid in full. Our salvation’s been bought and paid for by Christ; and for the sake of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we have the grace of God, we have the forgiveness of our sins, and we have eternal life. Although our world tells us to store up treasures for ourselves, and to ‘want it all’, in Christ, we have what’s truly needful. We’re rich toward God, and in Christ, we’ve got it all.
In Christ’s service,