So often when the Lord Jesus speaks, his preaching is profoundly pregnant, each statement being packed with themes that interconnect with the rest of Scripture. Thus in Luke 12:32 (from Sunday’s Gospel) Jesus promises: Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Do not be afraid. God repeats this comforting clause throughout Holy Writ, for we truly have plenty to fear! We are afraid of guilt, afraid of sickness and injury, afraid of death, afraid of Satan, afraid of hell, afraid of failure, afraid of a just God…and the list goes on. Christ’s perfect love casts out fear, and we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us, a love shown uniquely at the cross.
Little flock. Jesus speaks here of a flock of sheep. The Lord is our shepherd, so the Scriptures echo. As sheep of God’s flock we belong to Him and He cares for us. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture, because the Good Shepherd laid down His life and took it back up again to save His sheep. The Lord’s flock does not appear to be the flock of the very Creator of the universe, for most of the time (if not always) it is a little flock, consisting only of a remnant, only a relatively tiny group of seemingly helpless sheep. However, this little flock consists of those who know their Shepherd and He knows them and He gives unto them eternal life, carrying them through the valley of the shadow of death.
For your Father… When we were born into this fallen world, we were of our father the devil. But when the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Christ’s redemptive work at the cross was to give us the adoption as sons, to bring us back into the family of our heavenly Father. Now we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of us who have been baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ. As surely as Jesus is God’s Son, so too we who in our Baptism were completely clothed with Him are then seen by God the Father to be His Son.
…is pleased to give you the kingdom. Why is the heavenly Father thus pleased to give us the kingdom? It is only because of His beloved Son, with whom He is well pleased (Lu. 3:22; same Greek word as here). Only in the Son of God can the Father be pleased with anyone, and we are in the Son and He is in us through the Word and Sacraments. The Father is thus pleased to give us the kingdom. Yes, give it to us! Salvation is not earned or merited, it is given; it is a gift purchased by the death and resurrection of the sinless One. And the kingdom which is gifted to us is more than can be grasped. Briefly the kingdom is all that has to do with the person and work of the King of kings. It is forgiveness, it is membership in the body of Christ, it is the indwelling of the Spirit whose work is to constantly point to Christ, it is faith, it is newborn love for our neighbor, it is the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, it is heavenly bliss beatifically realized when see Jesus as he is.
As surely as Christ is risen from the dead, do not doubt His promise: Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.