July 5, 2009
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
1. "Don't worry!" That's what Jesus says. "Don't worry about what you will eat or what you will drink in regard to your life, or about what you will wear in regard to your body!," says Jesus. For the time being, right now, we have food. But, if you were eating and you ran out of food. [Then] you must procure something to eat. What do you have to eat tomorrow or some future time after that? How would you even be able to live? Worries of that nature do come up. Right now we are not without clothing on our persons. But, when we have to get all dressed up, we have to procure other clothing. Worries over what in the world we should wear do come up. "Worrying" like that has an effect on the future, which is why Jesus says, "Don't worry about tomorrow!" We're the same way about this. The kind of worrying [we do] is different, even though it is not about what we are eating or what we are wearing, generally speaking, this figure [of ours] worrying about tomorrow and the future is the same as the folks in that time and place [of Jesus].
2. But then there is the one who gives to us, the worriers we are, this message of "Don't worry!" Jesus, in whom we believe, says, "Don't worry about tomorrow!" It is a cause for joy that there is such an one who speaks to us in this way with all sincerity. If they were just words, then there could be others around us who could say similar things of like nature. "Don't fret over what lies ahead!" We can appreciate what they say, but the meaning in what Jesus is saying in "Don't worry" is different.
3. Jesus, we recall, did say, "Look at the birds in the sky. They never sow seed, nor do they reap, nor do they store [anything] in a granary," (verse twenty-six). The reference to the sowing of seed and the storing into a granary are operations that assume a future. Birds basically never do anything like that. Rather than living and thinking of the future, we could say that they do their best to live the present. Therefore, another potential lesson out of this is "Look at the birds. Aren't they doing their best to live the present? You too should live the present with all the strength you got. Don't fret over what lies ahead!" Even secular folks [can] tell us this much.
4. However, the important thing that Jesus is trying to say lies on ahead. "But, your heavenly father nourishes the birds. Are you not more valuable than the birds?" In this way then, Jesus is not speaking about birds but on the father in heaven. By saying, "Don't worry," he is pointing us to the father in heaven. Jesus is not arguing for the existence of God, but is living as the son of God. As the son of God, he lived with the heavenly father, he trusted in the heavenly father, and he lived in thanksgiving to the heavenly father. That kind of son of God was speaking on the heavenly father. And he said, "Don't worry!"
Your Father In Heaven
5. But no, Jesus did not just speak about the heavenly father, he said, "Your father in heaven [is ...]" "Your father in heaven is nourishing the birds." Also after this he says, "Your father in heaven knows that you all need these things," (verse thirty-two). What does he mean when he said "your heavenly father (or your father in heaven)?" Isn't it the same as his saying "You are the children of God?" Jesus had them take a look at a relationship with the heavenly father. The disciples were also being invited to a relationship with the heavenly father. And the Lord has also invited us as well. Just as Jesus had taught, when he prayed, "O our father who is in heaven," that's what he was saying, that, we are the children of the father in heaven.
6. But hold it, Jesus didn't just give us that prayer. He didn't just say to us "Your heavenly father [is ...]" When we read ahead, we come to the scene where Jesus is put on the cross. Jesus completely removed the divider between the heavenly father and us, and made it so that we could truly live as the children of God. That is, he bore upon his own back every sin of ours who have been living with our backs turned against God, and he was put on a cross, and thereby paid the redemption for our sins. As persons forgiven of sin, we do not need to hesitate about anything but can declare that "We are the children of the heavenly father."
7. Thus, as persons whose sins have been paid for, as persons forgiven by God, when we live calling God "[our] heavenly father," we are not, no matter how you define it, worthless, meaningless beings. By no means must we ever regard ourselves as if we were worthless beings to the heavenly father. "Are you not more valuable than the birds?," says the Lord. God has been seeing us as valuable persons. He has been seeing us as the children of the heavenly father. We are already the children of the God who created the universe and the one who is the king of kings. Therefore, the Lord says, "Don't worry!"
"You, Weak Ones In Faith!"
8. In addition, there is another very joyous statement. "You, weak ones in faith!," (verse thirty). Aren't you glad to hear this? Of course, had he told us "Your faith is splendid" like that woman of Canaan, (15:28), I would feel very glad, and even if it were the words, "You, weak ones in faith!," this would truly be very joyous words for us.
9. There are certainly many grounds for worry. When you begin to worry over the future, you'll never run out of things [to worry over]. Many of the causes for worry lie outside our control. Things like problems at home, problems at work, the many different relationships with others, illness and so on. There are so many needs that must be met. As we [try to] meet one need after the other and when we can't remove one [detail] after another in a problem, we suppose that we are not set free from worrying, and so we may very likely feel hopeless and frustrated; because for the most part, when we think we got rid of one worry, then another weed of worry sprouts up from some where else.
10. But Jesus is saying that those individual situations are not the problem. He says you don't have to find solutions to the individual matters of "What shall I eat?," "What shall I drink?," or "What shall I wear?" He says, that's something the Gentiles, that is, those without faith do. If I may put words in the mouth of Jesus, this is a problem of faith. Therefore, the Lord says, "Ooh, you people of weak faith!"
11. In that case, we have hope, don't we? We should just seek for faith, shouldn't we? The scripture says, "you people of weak faith," but originally the expression is that of "[Your] faith is small." Doesn't it amount to his saying that if you're faith is small right now, then you should just seek for your faith to grow and increase in size? It seems like we need a lot of things. But, what we truly need is just that alone.
12. Going the next level with this then, okay, you say [have] big faith, but then I wonder how large should it get to? Jesus speaks to this in a later part of this gospel. "I truly say to you. If you have faith about [the size of] one mustard seed, then even if you turned to this mountain and commanded it, 'Move from here to there!,' it would turn out exactly as you said. There is nothing you cannot do," (17:20). Thus, Jesus says, "[Your faith] should be about [the size of] one mustard seed."
13. Let's rejoice greatly at the words, "You people of weak faith." Let's rejoice because he says that we still have hope. We don't need to feel depressed saying, "I'm useless because my faith is so weak." To begin with, there are no useless persons. It's a message that there are only persons along the way to growth. If your faith is small, you should seek for great faith because Jesus says, [your faith] should be like a mustard seed. A mustard seed is very small. But though, because he says "That's sufficient," then we should seek for [this].
Seek The Kingdom Of God And The Righteousness Of God!
14. There is something else important here, though. Because Jesus is saying, "you people of weak faith," you should seek faith, but Jesus does not merely say here "Seek faith!" What is he saying? "Above all else, seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God! By so doing therefore, all these things will be added to you," (verse thirty-three). The Lord is saying that.
15. It certainly is important that we stop being "people of weak faith." It is important that we pursue after faith and that we seek to grow as believers. But the purpose of that is not merely so that we live set freed from worrying. What the heavenly father wills for his children is not just so that they can live in a care free manner set freed from worries. That would be wonderful, but that is still just half of the blessings.
16. What our heavenly father wants is that his children might seek for the heavenly father's will to be fulfilled, and that they might see the heavenly father's will fulfilled. Jesus taught us, saying, "Pray!, 'May your kingdom come! May your will be done! In earth as it is in heaven.'" [What our heavenly father wants is] that we live and pray seeking in that manner; that is, that we seek for the kingdom of God and for the righteousness of God. For example, when we have worries about our homes, [instead of] seeking just for ourselves to be freed from worries, we ought to seek that the kingdom of God come to it, for the rule of God's grace to come, and that our homes would serve the Lord with joy. Thus, we ought to seek that the will of the heavenly father be fulfilled in it. We ought to seek in prayer and believe in all sincerity for it. The children who seek for the kingdom of God will come to see the kingdom of God.
17. Our heavenly father wills that we thus by faith come to seek for the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God first of all. When we seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God first, then there is no need for us to worry over our future or over tomorrow; because the heavenly father will meet every need of the children who seek for the will of the heavenly father to be fulfilled.