Today we commemorate St. Lawrence, deacon, martyr, who died in 258. As one of the seven deacons of the church at Rome, Lawrence was responsible for the church’s financial matters and for the care of the poor. Asked by the emperor to gather the church’s treasure, he presented a collection of orphans, lepers, and the like. The enraged emperor had him put to death. You can learn more about the life and death of St. Lawrence by clicking HERE
Read Luke 12:32–40
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants 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. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
To whom did Jesus specifically direct His message? (Luke 6:20)
What four groups did Jesus single out for receiving a blessing? (Luke 6:20-22)
What blessings did Jesus promise then and which ones did He promise for the future? (Luke 6:20-23)
What response to hardship did Jesus encourage His disciples to have? (Luke 6:23)
What four groups did Jesus single out for woes? (Luke 6:24-26)
What contemporary kinds of people resemble the ones Jesus spoke to in this sermon?
In what way are these words of Jesus challenging?
In what way are these words of Jesus comforting?
In what way can you nurture the qualities that Jesus described as blessed?
Whom can you encourage with Jesus’ words this week?
“CONSIDER THE LILIES
Jesus’ second illustration related to clothing and came from the world of botany: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27). It is easy to imagine Jesus standing in a field of wildflowers when he said this, just as it is easy to imagine that there were ravens in the vicinity. The “lilies” to which he referred were not Easter lilies, but various flowers of the field, which Jesus used to make some striking comparisons.
Flowers do less work than we do. In fact, they do not do any work at all. They do not toil; they just grow. They do not spin fabric to use for clothing; they just wear what God gave them. Yet how marvelously they are adorned! Not even Solomon could compete with their beauty. As the wealthiest of kings, Solomon wore the gold and purple of his royal office; yet even the littlest flower surpasses his splendor. Here Jesus was taking pleasure in the beauty of his own creation. As the Son of God he had personally designed every blossom. The bright flowers of the field were a reflection of his divine beauty. With evident satisfaction, Jesus pointed to the lilies and rightly declared their superlative splendor. Although they do less work than we do, by the grace of God, they far surpass us in the finery of their raiment.
Furthermore, flowers live much shorter lives than we do. This was another aspect of the comparison: “But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28). Once again Jesus used a “how much more” argument, reasoning from something lesser to something greater. Wildflowers are not known for their longevity. Jesus knew the words of Isaiah: “The grass withers, the flower fades” (Isa. 40:7). Flowers have a transitory existence. So why take the trouble to make them so beautiful? Why waste so much effort on their adornment? Nevertheless, the Creator God has lavished the flowers of the field with ravishing beauty, from the morning dew on the first tulip, to the high meadow carpeted with mountain blossoms in springtime.
If God squanders such beauty on little flowers, what will he do for the people he made in his image and saved through the gift of his Son? What will he do for the children he loves as a Father and has destined to live forever? Jesus answers by saying, “how much more will he clothe you” (Luke 12:28).
We should reason from the lesser to the greater and make the application to our own daily needs: God will take care of us! Every flower we see is a testimony to his loving providence. Martin Luther said it like this: “The flowers stand there and make us blush and become our teachers. Thank you, flowers, you who are to be devoured by the cows! God has exalted you very highly, that you become our masters and teachers.”3 We should learn, therefore, what the flowers are there to teach us.
If we have not yet learned not to worry about our basic needs, it must be because of our unbelief. Jesus plainly identifies the heart issue at the root of all our anxiety when he says, “O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28). Worry comes from not believing in the God who feeds the ravens and dresses the lilies. Worry is inversely proportional to our faith. To the extent that we worry, just to that extent we are not trusting in God, and therefore we are sinning against him. Most people think of worry as one of the smaller sins, if it is a sin at all. We tell ourselves that worrying about things is not nearly as wrong as lusting after them or getting angry about them. Yet Jesus says that anxiety is unbelief, and there is no greater sin than not believing in God.
When we worry, we deny God’s promise that he will give us whatever we truly need. We deny his wisdom, not trusting that he fully appreciates the difficulties of our situation. We deny his goodness, not believing that he has our best interests at heart. We deny his sovereignty, not waiting for him to provide what we need in his own good time. Our anxiety is a direct attack on the God-ness of God as it relates to the needs of our own daily lives. This means that the remedy for all our fearful worries is more faith in our faithful God. As soon as we start to feel anxious, we need to stop thinking about our troubles and start thinking about the character of our God—his wisdom, his goodness, his sovereignty, and all the promises he has made to us in Christ.”
Ryken, Philip Graham. Luke. Ed. Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani. Vol. 1. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009.. Reformed Expository Commentary.
“Grant us hearts, dear Lord, to give You Gladly, freely of Your own. With the sunshine of Your goodness Melt our thankless hearts of stone Till our cold and selfish natures, Warmed by You, at length believe That more happy and more blessed ’Tis to give than to receive.” Amen. (LSB 851:2)