“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” - Luke 12:32.
Jesus uses some very key words today, watch and be ready “for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” More than ever the Church needs this reminder, even as the world continues to rage against the true faith in Christ. Today everything is about doing whatever feels right. And don’t you dare judge me and tell me I’m sinning. But God’s Word is clear, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Jesus is coming again, yet so many go on in their sin like it doesn’t mean a thing. Yet, Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin. Yes we all sin, but we don’t have to serve sin. “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
It’s not that Christians suddenly becomes sinless upon conversion, it’s that, through faith in Christ, sin is no longer held against us. This is the good news of the Gospel. Christ has already been held accountable, not that He had comitted any sin to be accountable for. But God “hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Judment Day is coming, but even the greatest of sinners can find forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Now is the time to hearken unto His words, not tomorrow, because He says, “Behold, I come as a thief.” That is, “At an hour when ye think not.”
And as we confess in the creed, He is coming, “to judge the quick and the dead.” The natural, and immediate impulse man has when hearing of judgment day is fear. Just as Adam and Eve hid in the garden out of fear. They fell into sin, and just the thought of facing the Almighty, sinless God, after that sin, it was like facing a type of judgement day. So Adam “said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
And we have to confess that when we’ve heard those stern words of Christ regarding the wrath and that punishment that is to come on that last day – there have been times when we have feared. It’s not like we’ve never sinned. And it’s not like because of our sin, we don’t deserve punishment.
Yet, Jesus came to take that punishment upon Himself. He came to bear our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
He says, “Fear not.” He did not come to fill us with fear. “Fear not, little flock.” Jesus speaks with the voice of assurance. He speaks to re-inforce His promise of forgiveness. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
By Grace, as we continue to wait for Judgement day, we don’t have to fear, because Jesus, our Good Shepherd, keeps guiding us, His little flock, by the comfort of His Word and Sacraments. He keeps assuring us, He has done enough to save us from our sin. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It is His pleasure to give us the kingdom, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”
We don’t have to struggle to see that we are, as Jesus says, a little flock. The fastest growing religion has always been the religion of works-righteousness. “Look at what we can do.” Like we heard last Sunday, “Look at all I’ve done in your name Lord: prophesying, casting out devils, doing many wonderful works. A pretty impressive list, Lord.” The extremist Muslims too, say, “Look God, I’m even willing to blow myself up in your name.” The Hindus too, say, “Look at what we can do”, as their main creed focuses on their own honesty, purity, and self restraint.
The same basic religion was popular in Jesus’ day too, among the Scribes and Pharisees. “Look at how we can go without food, and say long prayers, and donate more than what is required.”
And long before that, all the way back to Cain, he relied not on Grace and forgiveness, but rather on his own works.
But athiesm too is growing, and just pure ungodliness, and the “who cares” attitude.
The only thing that really upsets people these days is taking a stand on the words of Christ. The world can accept every religion, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and risen. “Who wants a lowly and humble Savior who comes to us riding on a donkey? And who wants a god who suffers and dies? Forget about that stuff, and look at what I can do, and how much I can impress you God.”
Yet, Christ’s Words are clear. The Kingdom of God is given, not earned. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
And we remember that this gift includes not only the kingdom of heaven, but also the kingdom God begins in us here on earth, “for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” And we say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come” “How is this done?”, “When our Heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life, here in time and hereafter in eternity.”
That eternity is ours by Grace, yet, in the meantime, as Jesus says, we watch, we wait. We wait for the Savior to return, our lights burning, our loins girded. Back then with no electricity, the servants not knowing how late their master would return, kept their lamps lit, so that at a moment’s notice they would be ready to serve him. Loins girded meant they had their robe pinned up against their waist – it would be kind of like wearing shorts today - their legs were ready to run, or walk speedily, free from tripping up on their clothing, ready to serve their lord at a moment’s notice.
And how can our lights be burning, and our loins girded ? how can our faith be alive and ready for Christ’s to return, without remaining in the light of God’s Word? How can we be ready, without remembering our Baptism, wherein God washed all our sin away? How can we be ready without frequently receiving the true body and blood of our Lord?
Those very things our Good Shepherd uses to lead His little flock. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.” He feeds us in the green pastures of His Word, and He restores our soul in the still waters of His Sacraments.
Yet still, it can seem like we are on the losing side, with every heathen group growing, and here we are with just a few, only a couple handfuls of believers. Just as Jesus says, a little flock, but most importantly, we are His flock. “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
How great it is to be led and fed, and comforted and assured, by the only one who laid down His life for us, only to take it up again, and promise that we too will rise. He says, don’t be afraid, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Just by using the word Father, Jesus invites us to dwell on the relationship that you have with Him through faith. You’ve been called by by the Gospel, by His Spirit. You’ve been Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. You’ve had your sin washed away. You’ve been given complete pardon for all your sin, and have been made an heir of everlasting life. All these things and more, Jesus invites us to dwell on when He mentions the word “Father.” In our catechism we confess, “God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may with all boldness and confidence ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”
So as we wait, with our lights burning, hearing, marking, learning, inwardly digesting the Word of God, which keeps our faith alive…As we wait, continuing to partake of the Lord’s true body and blood, given and shed for the remission of all our sins. As we wait, and watch, Jesus instructs us clearly: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”