One from the Barrel
One from the Barrel
Words of Faith 9-4-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
There are a couple of competing theories among preachers about recycling sermons.
One theory says: You never preach the same sermon twice because each "preaching event" is unique. Preaching "old sermons" is like re-heating old food.
Another theory assumes that any sermon worth preaching once is certainly worth preaching again. Some traveling preachers have a handful of finely tuned message while other accumulate what they affectionately call their "barrel" of sermons, refined messages over years of preaching them in different churches.
Which brings us to our text. The first thing we notice as Jesus speaks is that we have heard this sermon before! Sure. Matthew chapter 6. It was part of what we call the Sermon on the Mount. It is not unusual to have a verbatim parallel passage in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), especially when two Gospel writers are obviously recording the same event. But in this case, the time and events are different. This appears to be the same "sermon" preached twice.
Matthew recorded the Sermon on the Mount early in the ministry of Jesus, while Jesus was in Galilee, at the height of His popularity preaching to about fifteen thousand people on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. Now, on His way to Jerusalem, amid a great deal of turmoil and growing conflict, Jesus brought back these same powerful thoughts. "Don't worry about what you eat... drink... etc."
How are we to interpret this? Was Jesus just running low on material? Was this the equivalent of a Saturday Night Special? No time to prepare on the road? One from the barrel? Was Jesus preoccupied with the looming reality of Jerusalem such that He chose to fall back on some tried and true stuff? Is this a major vote for preaching theory number two? Or is there something else going on here?
A third option is that we may hear the same words uttered in a different setting, inspired by the Spirit of God, and it is, in fact, a different sermon. And if Jesus bothered to say these things at least twice, perhaps it is something that we should listen to even more carefully.
Maybe this message is one that Jesus knew the people, and especially the disciples, would not easily grasp and apply to their lives. Or perhaps Jesus wanted to be sure that we understood that this was not just a teaching for the good times but one that applied to the difficult times as well. These are not idealistic thoughts that work well in Galilee but not in Judea.
So let's look at what it was that Jesus thought was so important that He said it twice.
1) Do not WORRY. We often think about spiritual renewal as resolving to worry more about certain things. "I am going to walk more closely with God and worry more about how much I read the Bible, how much I pray, how much time I spend with my family." Now there is always a place for new beginnings and repentance but the basic message of the Kingdom not to worry more but to trust more. Don't worry so much. God really will take care of you.
2) Do not set your heart of food or drink. Of course it is one thing to worry over whether there will be provisions for our families, but we also are a culture that obsesses over food, beverage, snacks and vitamins. We spend billions worrying about what we will eat and won't eat. The summer diet and exercise ads are coming! It is interesting that most experts agree that diets don't work. Why? A theological reason why most diets don't work is that most diets are motivated by vanity. Anything that begins centered in self will not change our basic problems. Without a component of faith that surrenders to God and trust Him to transform us, we remain a prisoner of our appetites. The world says: try this diet, health club, or home gym. Jesus says: Don't do as the world does. Don't follow the latest trend of the pagan culture around you. Trust in God.
All this is familiar from Galilee, but then there is a new ending.
3) Do not be AFRAID. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." This is a different word from "worry". Jesus has already said: Don't worry or fret over your life what you will wear or eat. Now Jesus says: Do not be afraid. The Greek word here means "do not be terrified". Those closest to Jesus were probably afraid. If they had eyes to see at all, they knew that Jerusalem was a frightening place.
There are a lot of things to be afraid of these days from hurricanes to terrorists to bird flu. We sometimes forget who is in charge. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. We may not have things but we have the kingdom. We may not have all that the world tells us we are supposed to have, but we have the Kingdom of God. We may not have all the stuff or the trappings that we thought constituted happiness, but we have the Kingdom.
4) INVEST in KINGDOM THINGS. Jesus made some Kingdom suggestions. Instead of worry and fear that is self focused, sell something and give to the poor. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Instead of worrying over investments, invest in something eternal and you will gain a purse that does not wear out.
You can have a treasure stored in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Most of all, we can gain a heart that is in the right place. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. That is a powerful and penetrating truth. The one sure fire way to tell the condition of a man's heart is to look at what they invest money, time and energy in. Your heart follows your money. Your money follows your heart.
Wow. I can see why Jesus preached that one again.
Father, build in me a walk of faith. Teach me to trust You in all circumstances. Teach me to walk without worry or fear because of the confidence that You are watching over me and those I love. Thank you for entrusting to me some of Your stuff. Help me to know how to invest it so that it is never exhausted. In Jesus' name.