Proper 14 • Luke 12:22–34 (35–40) • August 7, 2016
It is always important to consider the context of the assigned readings. Therefore, look at Luke 12:16–21. Jesus tells a story about a rich man who has an abundance of earthly goods. He has so many earthly goods that he is considering a plan to tear down his current barns in order to make way for bigger barns. Jesus does not tell this story in order to hold up the rich man as a godly example. In fact Jesus calls the rich man a fool (Lk 12:20). However, the story of the rich man sets the stage for the assigned reading. In contrast to the rich man, Jesus tells the disciples to consider the ravens (Lk 12:24). Ravens have no barns; they are scavengers who daily look for food. This distinction between the rich man and the ravens is important because it helps us to understand the relationship between trust and worry.
The rich man trusted only in himself. He idolized himself and his ability to collect so many earthy goods. Some people might be in awe of the rich man and all the treasures in his possession. Yet, there are two kinds of treasures. One kind of treasure grows old and rots while the other last forever. The rich man trusted in the treasure that grew old and rotted. Although he did not seem worried about growing old and rotting in the grave, he should have been. When we put our trust in our own abilities, we don’t put our trust in God. And for many people this misplaced trust causes worry, anxiety, sleepless nights, panic, and even physical discomfort. This is why Jesus said, “O you of little faith” (Lk 12:28). When we fail to trust in God, we end up trusting in things that should cause us to worry. That is the point Jesus is making with the rich man. The rich man should have been very worried because he trusted in himself, but the ravens trust in their creator and do not worry.
In order to address worry we need to assess what we trust in. When we trust in things that grow old and rot there is a lot to worry about. We end up being anxious about what we will eat and what we will wear. But when we trust in God for our daily bread there is no need to worry. “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds” (Lk 12:24). When we place our trust in God there is no need to worry because God does not grow old and does not rot. We trust in God who not only provides for our earthly needs but also our spiritual needs.
God provides purses that will not wear out, treasure that will not be exhausted. Look to the cross and see Jesus hanging naked, hungry, and thirsty. He hung there so that we have the best treasure of all, forgiveness of sins. No matter how many barns the rich man had, no matter how much he trusted in himself to maintain the level of his wealth, it does not compare to the treasure we have in the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are ravens living every day trusting in God to provide. And he does provide! Fear not! Do not worry! Be not anxious! We trust in God who sacrificed his Son to give us the treasure of salvation that does not grow old and does not rot.