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Redeemed to be His own | Luke 12:32-40

Sermon for the 12th Sunday in Pentecost based on Luke 12:32-40 | Pastor Ryan Cortright

One of my favorite quotes is from the Christian writer C.S Lewis. He wrote: Christianity, if false, is of no importance, if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. Just like if I told you that I have a million-dollar check that I want to give you, if that check is real, you better not let it out of your sight until you get to the bank to deposit it…and if it’s real, it’s pretty important that you’d deposit it as fast as you can. Of course, if the check is issued from the bank of my imagination, if it’s a fake, then you might as well make it into a paper airplane because it’s not worth anything. The only thing a million check cannot be is kind of important. It all depends on this: is it real? Is it true?

This is the same question that every Christian needs to ask. Are the claims of the Bible true? If they are, then nothing could be more important than to know and believe and live as one who bears the name of Christ; to live as a Christian. If what the Bible says isn’t true then you’d be better off finding a nice stretch of the Ice Trail and going for a hike on Sunday morning. But, let us not say, “It’s true! All the stuff about Jesus is true,” then live as if it’s really not all that important to us.

I bring this up because Jesus made some incredible claims in our gospel today. The things Jesus said are either infinitely important, or they must be entirely dismissed. What Jesus says can’t be filed away in the “kind of” important category.

What did we hear Jesus say? Do not be afraid, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Do not be afraid. I want to point out that, in the context, Jesus is not talking about fears of heights or of talking in front of crowds. He’s talking about the fear that we have about those things that threaten life. You can tell a lot about a person by the things that they are afraid of. It’s been said that if you follow a person’s fears you can find their idols; what they most love and what they are most afraid to lose.

Of course, we live at a time when there is plenty that people are afraid of: the next variant or thing that will make you sick. Economic uncertainty. Many people seem to be afraid of the direction our nation is going. Turn on the news and you’ll find something new to be afraid (which is probably one more reason to turn off the news).

You can also tell a lot about a person by where they look for hope. Do not be afraid because… How you finish that sentence reveals what you are putting your trust in. Do not be afraid because mid-term elections are coming up. My hope is in politicians. Do not be afraid because I exercise my 2nd amendment rights. My hope is in my own ability to defend myself. Do not be afraid because there’s a vaccine. My hope is in science. Do not be afraid because I have enough gas for the generator and enough food stored up for a couple of months. My hope is in my preparedness.

Of course, God does not tell us to shut off our brains or to just sit there when we see a threat. Being a Christian does not mean that when we see the tornado coming, we stand there out in the open because we have faith. No, we run to the basement and pray for God’s protective hand from there. Yet, what does Jesus say is the ultimate reason that we do not have to be afraid? Don’t be afraid…Your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. We are afraid when we think we might lose something we love. That might be our health, our livelihood, a person we love. Yet, we all know that in the end, we will lose our health, the people we love and whatever else in this world that gives us joy. But we have something greater than all of this: our place in God’s kingdom.

When Jesus tells us not to be afraid, he’s not scolding us, he pointing to the reason we have nothing to fear. Martin Luther summarized this reason in his Small Catechism. [Jesus] has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood, and with his innocent suffering and death. All this he did that I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom.

The Bible’s claim is that Jesus Christ has redeemed you, bought you with his own blood shed on the cross, that you now belong to him. You were redeemed to be his own. If this is true, that God’s own Son has delivered you from sin and from death itself, then there is no way that this is only moderately important in our lives. You were redeemed by Jesus not so that you can worry about the things of this world but so that you would be his own and live under him in his kingdom.

This is why Jesus can go on to say, “Sell your possessions and give to the needy.” He isn’t giving us a literal command. He’s making a point about the attitude that we ought to have towards the things of this world. We ought to be willing to part with the so-called treasures we have on earth because we have a greater treasure; one stored up for us in heaven; one that no thief can steal; no IRS can take. And where our treasure is, there will our heart be. The real answer to fear is to believe and live as those who already have been given the kingdom from our heavenly Father.

And those who know that God has given us his kingdom will also want to be ready when Jesus returns to take us to be a part of his kingdom. Go back to the question we need to ask ourselves today: if Jesus has redeemed me to be his own, then what does that mean for me? Jesus says it means this: 35 “Be dressed, ready for service, and keep your lamps burning. Be like people waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.”

When was the last time you woke up and said to yourself: today may be the day; the day that my Lord Jesus comes back? If Jesus has redeemed me to be his own then there is nothing more important than for me to live as one who is ready. Notice that when Jesus describes the servant waiting to welcome his master back, he didn’t say that the servant should be staring out the window. No, the servant who is ready is faithful in carrying out his duties even while the master is away. He isn’t like an employee who picks up the broom as soon as his boss walks in but is staring at his smartphone and wasting time when he thinks the boss isn’t looking.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to spend our days staring up into the sky, watching for any sign of his imminent return. No, he wants to be faithfully carrying out the work he’s given us to do while we are waiting for him to come back. What is that work? To love God and to love our neighbor. He wants to gather together to be fed by his Word and to eat and drink the Lord’s Supper. Then he wants to go into our lives and serve where he has put us; whether we are in school or are working or are retired; whether we are single or married or with children or not. He has work for us to do and he wants us to carry out that work in light of who he has made us. Why? Because he has redeemed us to be his own.

There’s one question, I suppose, that we haven’t talked about. How do we know it’s true? How do we know that God has really given us the kingdom in Jesus? It is quite a claim.? To authenticate a million dollar check you would call the bank and see if there are funds to back it up. To authenticate Jesus’ claims we need to see if Jesus has the power to do what he has promised. How did he show that power? Our Lord Jesus walked out of a tomb on a Sunday morning after being put to death on a cross on Friday. His disciples were so shocked to see him alive, that, at first, they didn’t believe it. Then, they were so convinced that they had seen a dead man alive that they went out and told anyone who would listen that Jesus was their Lord. They did this without fear and with nothing to gain in this world. They did it because they believed that they were redeemed; redeemed to be his own and to live forever with him in his kingdom. May God grant us this same faith to know and to believe that we are redeemed to be his own.

This is really our mission here at Redeemer Lutheran Church; to proclaim this good news that Jesus has redeemed us to be his own. This not only means that we live without fear and ready for his return, it means that our faith is so much more than just some information we believe. We were redeemed to be his own which means that we no longer live for ourselves because we belong to Him. There is nothing in the world more important than this. Amen.

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