Submitted by Pastor David, Klappenbach,
First Lutheran Church, Rock Port, Missouri
A reading from Luke 12:16-21, then (Jesus) told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
I did a children’s sermon where I had the children count the number of times that rich farmer used the word ‘I’ or ‘my’ in this story that Jesus told. They came up a number of nine or 10. Whatever the number was, it was a lot for just a few verses. I suppose the point is that the struggle for us is that God gives us all things of life, house and home, spouse and children, land and animals, food and shelter and all the other things of life that it is so easy to forget that God is behind everything we see, touch, feel, smell and taste. It is easy to take all this for granted. The rich man in the story simply forgot that God is the giver of all good gifts.
During these days we drive down the road and see the crops growing and we can certainly be thankful for the farmer who plants and cares for a crop through the harvest, but it is easy to forget that it is God the Father Almighty who provides the farmer with the skill, knowledge and strength, the sun and rain, who is the source behind all these gifts.
When God created this world he gave mankind the opportunity to be a co-worker in caring for this creation. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to care for it and tend it” (Genesis 2:15). This work was to be a joy. Tragically, mankind fell into sin, and ate the forbidden fruit. The work that was intended to be a joy and a delight, became dull and burdensome. The teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes, the second chapter, complains about this. You work yourself to the bone and look what it gets you. When you die it all gets left to all who follow to enjoy. The riches that one accumulates does not bring about true meaning. In the end it comes down to our relationship with God.
The Psalms have a word for a person not interested in God or a relationship with Him. Psalm 14:1 – “The fool says in his own heart, ‘there is no God.’ ” That is the same word Jesus Christ, the Son of God begotten of the God the Father from eternity calls the Man in the story. A fool.
The problem was not that the man was rich. He is the fool because he has left God out of his plans. He has not thought about his eternity. He has no relationship with the Lord.
Jesus tells this parable as a response to a questioner who wanted Jesus to divide an inheritance with his brother. Jesus, who knows the hearts of all, quickly sensed that there was more going on here than just equal distribution. There was greed and covetousness involved. Jesus could see his heart was not in the right place. Disputes of this kind arise because people set their hearts on the wrong kind of riches. God offers a better way, a way that is not dependent on earthly wealth and success as the true source of meaning. Those things come and go. The true joy and riches that are eternal cannot be found in the stuff of this world. They are gracious gifts of our heavenly Father who gives both eternal riches and unending joy through the life of His Son Jesus Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world as King of kings and Lord of lords with no fancy clothes and no place to lay his head. Yet at the last every knee will bend and bow before him. Why, because he was poor? No, because he carried out His Father’s will to save us. He came to buy us back from sin, death and evil through the atoning sacrifice on the cross. Through His innocent suffering and death and his glorious resurrections he has claimed us as His sons and daughters. We have a priceless inheritance that is not measured in dollars and cents, in land and animals that we may own, or even the number of barns we fill up. As God’s children through His grace and faith in Jesus Christ, we are destined to inherit everything that is His, and that means everything.
Therefore, we can and should give thanks for all the blessings and abundant harvests we experience, and the material blessings we receive.