SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM
As Luke 12 begins, Jesus is preaching. As always, he was preaching some wonderful truths that we need to hear: how we shouldn’t be hypocrites because one day everything we try so desperately to cover up will be revealed; how we need to fear God more than we do other people; how valuable we are to God (the very hairs of our heads are numbered, and if God cares about the sparrows how much more does he care about us?); how we must be willing to confess Jesus before others and not deny him; how we must trust the Holy Spirit to guide us.
These are all truths that we need and that we must hold onto if we would follow him. But as so often happens when Jesus is telling us something important, people are worried about other things that seem much more relevant and immediate. So while Jesus is preaching, someone in the crowd interrupts him. He was in a legal dispute with his brother: they couldn’t agree on how to divide the family inheritance and no doubt Jesus’ opinion could help resolve this argument and get him his money.
Jesus takes the question, allowing the man to interrupt his sermon. Instead of answering it directly, however, he decides to address what is going on in this man’s heart. Jesus touches on the worry and the fear underneath the question and responds to that instead. In doing so, he shifts our focus from what is right in front of our faces. He responds to our tendency of worrying about our wealth, our possessions, our circumstances, and everything else, by helping us to remember what is really most important as we live in this world.
Here is Jesus’ response: For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:22–32).
Jesus tells us that if God cares for birds and flowers in these ways, then God most certainly cares for us. We are of great value to God, and therefore we should trust him and seek his kingdom first, no matter our circumstances. Jesus draws our attention to what we can see, things like birds and flowers and how they don’t reap or sow or cook, but somehow God cares for them. He tells us that in our moments of worry about things we can’t see, we need to get our perspectives right. We need to widen our focus to see God’s grace, love, and care, all of which he is more than capable of bringing even in the midst of our problems.
This Sunday, April 14, is Palm Sunday. April 19 is Good Friday, and April 21 is Easter Sunday. We will worship all three of these days, as they are all important occasions for us as Christians. They are yearly reminders that Jesus Christ is the King who gives his life for us, that he gives his life for us by dying on the cross for our sins, and that he rose from this death to save us and give us new life. It’s easy to forget these wonderful truths sometimes. While there are times we need to remember the birds and the flowers, there are also times we need to be reminded of what God has done for us in Christ through worship, by gathering with our church to celebrate who he is and what he has done. As we anticipate Easter, let’s remember to seek the kingdom together, knowing that our Father has gladly chosen to give us his kingdom in Christ.