Audio
Click the play button below to begin streaming the audio, or click here to open this player in another window.
download this mp3
(right-click on the link above and choose "save link as" or "save target as" to download this audio)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
September 8, 2013
Central Passage
Matthew 6:24-34
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Having heard the Lord’s instruction not to worry about tomorrow or about what you will eat or what you will put on, having heard Him say that the pagans and unbelievers chase after these things, but that His people are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, it is not too improbably that one would ask, “What and where is the kingdom of God and His righteousness that I may seek it?”

We pray in the prayer our Lord teaches us, “Thy kingdom come.” How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity. (Small Catechism)

Our Lord speaks often about the kingdom of God, usually in parable form; saying “The kingdom of God is like…” And when He sent out His servants to preach the good news of the kingdom and to heal the sick and raise the dead, He told them to say to those that listened and those that didn’t that the kingdom of God had drawn near to them. And once, having cast out a demon and been called demon possessed Himself, He said that He casts out demons by the Spirit of God, which means the kingdom of God had come upon them.

The kingdom of God is established by and upon Jesus who is the Christ, the Savior. By His innocent suffering and death, by His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God, the kingdom of God is established. And from there, from the right hand of God, the Lord sends the Holy Spirit to work faith when and where He pleases in those that hear the good news that for their sakes Christ suffered, died, was buried, rose again, and ascended on high. By this gospel the Holy Spirit creates faith and so brings the kingdom of God to the ears and hearts of men.

So what and where is the kingdom of God? It is the establishment of peace between God and man by the blood of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus who alone is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. By His obedience He has done away with sin and death and brought eternal life and peace with God. That’s what the kingdom is. Where is it? It is wherever the gospel of Jesus is preached and proclaimed in word and sacrament.

We immediately see that we cannot have the “what” without the “where”. It does us no good to know what the kingdom of God is if we don’t also know where it is that we might seek and find it and His righteousness. But the kingdom of God is not like the kingdom of men where we can find a map and point to it and say, “Here it is” or “there it is”. Rather we find it when we find the preaching of the apostles and the administration of the sacraments. For the kingdom of God is not found by the eyes of men by their ears.

It is not established by treaties and contracts, but by the word of God. But not just any word of God. The Law of God does not establish or define the kingdom of God. Those who do right by the Law, keeping their hands from murder and their lips from lying or their eyes from wandering, they are not necessarily in the kingdom of God, and do not by their good works or high morality have the righteousness of God. At best such people have the righteousness of the Pharisees; good before the eyes of men. But unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

Rather, it is those that hear the good news of Jesus Christ to whom the kingdom of God has drawn near. It is those whose ears are opened by the Spirit of God, and upon whom the Spirit rests that have found and entered the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God has come to those to whom Jesus has come and given His gifts of life and immortality and peace with God.

To seek the kingdom of God, then, we must seek Jesus who is our righteousness before God. To seek the kingdom of God we must hear His word. But not just the generic word of forgiveness or love or peace. Any pagan can speak of forgiveness, love, and peace. But we must seek the forgiveness for us by the blood of Jesus. We must seek the love that comes down from above and washes us clean of sin and the stink of death. We must seek the peace that comes by the cross of Christ and not by the words or agreements of men.

In short, to seek the kingdom of God one must seek Jesus. Not to know of Him like one knows of Moses or King David or even Abraham Lincoln. But to know Him as your divine and eternal Savior and King who bled and died for you and is risen and lives and reigns by mercy and grace issuing forth from His throne.

His kingdom is not stopped by the boarders of men or by their laws and customs. His kingdom is carried by the Spirit who creates faith when and where He pleases in those who hear the good news of Jesus, the Son of God. And the good news is that Jesus is your righteousness. When you have found the Christ, not in books and lectures, but reigning from His throne in peace and mercy, giving His hard-won forgiveness, then you have also found the righteousness of God.

And where else does the King reign in His kingdom than from the treasures that bestow on you His love, mercy, and grace? It is not a small thing to gather to receive the blessed sacraments of Christ. It is not something born only of devotion or tradition. But these things, so weak in the eyes of men and so common in their distribution among men, are the very pillars and legs of the throne of the Son of God. They are the footstool of the Great King. They are the constitutions and treaties and declarations of the King of kings and Lord of lords. They are His kingdom, worked by the power of His eternal Spirit and given to those that seek the kingdom of God. For it is promised: seek and you shall find, ask and it shall be given, knock and the door shall be opened.

The door has been opened to you and you have found the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Will the Great King not now also take care of your mortal body, having given you the secrets of His eternal kingdom?

+ In Nomine Iesu +