Sermon on Matthew 6:24-34 (by Martin Damašek)

Dear brothers and sisters,

today, the zeitgeist, the spirit of the time, is a never ending dialog that is believed to cover all differences and join together whatever essentially different things or loyalties or to make things complicated or muddy so truth is hard to see. The old evil is still using the same deceiving tactics: “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1) Who is to be trusted? And human hearts are restless in despair, torn apart by passions, pierced by hatred, cast away and wasted by evil – even in our own “tolerant” and “progressive” times. 

But the Lord breaks in with authority and states clearly: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.“(Matthew 6:24) This is not a never ending dialog with both! This is an either-or situation with eternal significance! Either you will belong and devote all yourself to one or the other. There is no “both”, a servant cannot belong and devote himself to two masters, lest he hates or neglects one of them.

The evil foe successfully muddied the truth and seduced Eve who then seduced Adam. We know the results of this fall very well and feel them in our own lives: They are, among other, the pains of a necessary work to have food on our daily table, pain and death. And the law daily mirrors our sinfulness and condemns us to the terrible results of our every-day lives and, ultimately, to death. But one more suffering was a result of that fall and of breaking the law: Fear. When God called for Adam, the man answered: “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

The same result of breaking God´s law, the fear, we find in the Gospel text of today. Jesus mentioned man´s fear of losing life, of having nothing to eat or drink, of having nothing to put on. We all fear about these things, we all have our sleepless nights, we all are sometimes consumed by our fears and often, suffering of these fears is worse than the actual thing of which we fear. During Communism here, there was a well-known experience: They do not have to come for you, they were won over you by your own fears that had overtaken you. The same with Adam. The Devil managed to separate man from his Creator not only by Adam´s braking God´s commandment but also by Adam´s fear of God, so man hid from God.

Yet, man cannot help himself: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“ (Matthew 6:27). The answer is obvious and nobody can cheat around it no matter how hard he tries. Actually, worrying does most of the time the opposite, it consumes man and strips the rest of freedom from him. We all fall prey to this horrible predator of fear.

So, does the law throw us to this beast of fear to eat us up?

Already in the Genesis, we see God´s gospel: Lord God called to the man “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). God searched for man, he looked for him, man was not left to his fear and to the Devil.

Likewise, Lord Jesus comes to our world and lives full of fears and speaks to us His word of peace:  “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25, 26).  Christ not only chases away our fears, but brings us peace, shalom, pokoj. What are we to do, where shall we turn to? Christ’s answer removes our minds from our fears and ourselves and brings our attention to our Master from whom Eve was seduced: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.“ (Matthew 6:33). Seek not your own righteousness, do not fix your mind on yourself and your fears but seek Father´s kingdom and Father´s righteousness. Be found by God like the fallen Adam, trust Him as the birds of the sky or the flowers of the field that both live and grow without fear and are sustained by God´s care. Jesus invites us to faith in God´s care: The Father knows that we need all the things about which we worry (Matthew 6:32) and at the same time Jesus assures us that His Father cares for us much more than for the birds of the sky that He feeds daily (Matthew 6:26).

Brothers and sister, we are free, we are freed from our fears and from all the pains and death that result from the convincing law. Lord Jesus took all of them upon Himself on the cross. Christ offers to us His peace and eating His broken body and drinking His shed blood we may comfortably and joyfully confess and rejoice: His grace is sufficient for you and me… (2 Corinthians 12:9), “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow…” (Matthew 6:34), instead, dwell in His grace and peace and serve your neighbor.