He Provides A Nest
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
Dear Friends in Christ,
“Thy kingdom come” Those words are heard every time the Lord’s Prayer is spoken. People around the world from every nation or tribe and in their own language pray “Thy kingdom come.” The question is, “What do people expect if that petition is answered?”
All too often people are expecting a kingdom or nation of their own making. Like Pilate, they are expecting Jesus to be an earthly king. They are expecting the kingdom of God to have lots of land and natural resources. They want everyone, starting with themselves to be wealthy or at least very comfortable financially.
Politically they want leaders who will always agree with them. They expect a government that will leave them alone and clamp down on those with whom they disagree.
Wealth and prosperity, freedom and peace on their terms, that is how many people hope that God will answer their prayer that his kingdom to come.
It is not this way with the Kingdom of God. When Jesus began his ministry, he said, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus was not promising that he would soon give the people of Israel their land again. He was not promising that Jerusalem and Judea would soon have new kings like David and Solomon.
When Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is at hand,” he was referring to himself. Jesus was referring to his saving work. Scripture tells us that Jesus sat with people, he ate with them, he taught them, and he healed them. He proclaimed, “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
The kingdom of God is not about land and wealth and prosperity. It is not about political power. The kingdom of God is about Jesus. It is about the Son of God coming to earth to take on human flesh, to add to his Divine Nature a Human Nature so that he would be fully God and fully Man. He came so that he could be the second Adam but without sin.
The kingdom of God is about Christ coming to restore the world and all that is in it to the perfection that God created it to be. At first glance, the “kingdom of Jesus” did not seem like much at all. He had no property of his own. He had no wealth, no armies, and no political power.
His followers included guys who smelled like fish. His kingdom included the least desirable people around: sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors. Jesus was seen as insignificant, unimpressive, incapable of doing anything great.
The Mustard Seed
Jesus used the example of a mustard seed to describe the kingdom of God. He called it the smallest of seeds. I remember, when I was younger, receiving a tiny mustard seed inside of a little magnifying glass. The seed was so tiny and seemingly insignificant.
Jesus tells us that when this tiny mustard seed “is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
From something so insignificant, unimpressive, and seemingly incapable of doing anything great would come a plant so wonderful that living creatures could find shelter and refuge in its branches.
A Big Problem
How can a seemingly insignificant Jewish carpenter do anything for us? We have big problems. We have to deal with sin. You have to deal with your sin and I have to deal with my sin. We cannot ignore who we are.
You are a worshipper of idols, a person who scoffs at authority. You are a murder, a thief, and a liar. You covet what your neighbor has and plan how you can take it away from him.
You are the Levite and the Priest who pass by the man who has been beaten and left by the side of the road to die. He is in need and you are afraid to help him because it might cause you some inconvenience or put you in danger.
This is me also. We are like sheep who have gone astray. We have turned – every one of us – to his or her own way. Our problem is sin and death. We need forgiveness and life. We try to solve our own problem, but it only makes us weary. We use our human wisdom to fix things, to make things right between us and God and it doesn’t work.
We have guilt that we cannot erase, we have shame that we cannot cover up. Life as a sinner is overwhelming. You can do nothing to save yourself. I cannot save your. Your neighbor, your government, your doctor, your lawyer, your banker cannot save you from your sins.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The One who seems so insignificant, who was born in lowly Bethlehem, who was rejected by those in his home town of Nazareth, and who was crucified outside of Jerusalem is your hope.
The insignificant One followed the will of God for you. The unimpressive One took upon himself the responsibility for your sins. The One incapable of doing anything great died for you.
As a gift, Jesus gives you forgiveness and life. He takes away your guilt and shame. The heavenly Father pronounces you a saint for the sake of his Son’s life, death, and resurrection.
Like the mustard seed grows into a plant that provides a resting place for the birds of the air, so Jesus provides a resting place for you in his outstretched arms. In him, you are free from sin and death, from guilt and shame. You are free to be people of God.
How Can You Be Sure
How can you be sure? You can be sure because Jesus comes into your life to assure you. He comes to you in the means of grace. Jesus comes to you in what seems like the most insignificant ways.
Jesus was the living word of God that came into the world like and insignificant mustard seed. Now he comes to you in words that tell you what he has done for you. We hear them every Sunday.
They sound like the words of a pastor, “God in his mercy has given his Son to die for you and for his sake forgives you all your sins.” These are God’s words for you. They proclaim to you that in Jesus Christ God has had mercy on you.
Jesus came to you with the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” They might have been spoken by a pastor or a nurse or a parent or a grandparent, but they were the words of Jesus. These words include the promise that your sins are washed away. In baptism you are covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
Jesus comes to you with the words, “This is my body given for you, this is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Again, it might have sounded like the words of a pastor, but they are the very words of Jesus. As you receive him, you are receiving forgiveness and faith.
The Living Word of God and spoken Word of God are inseparable. The are like a mustard seed, they are given to the church so that the Kingdom of God can grow. The church proclaims the Word of God and the Living Word of God is here so that you can have a resting place.
Christ is with the church, his Word proclaims it. He is here so that those in the world who are restless might come and rest in Christ.
I can guarantee that you will not hear about what happened here at Gloria Dei today on the evening news. You will not read about it in the newspaper or on the internet tomorrow morning. Jesus and his Word, the Good News about God’s grace, seems insignificant. They seems like no news at all.
By God’s mercy and grace, you are part of the Mustard Seed Kingdom. You are part of the Kingdom of God. The Word of God says so and when God speaks it is so. Jesus is the Living Word of God and through him you are forgiven.
Ezekiel recorded the words of God. The Lord said, “I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” The Lord has said that by grace you are saved through faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. He has done it, you are saved by grace.
Soli Deo Gloria