Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Jesus calls us a little flock. That suggests we suffer from a certain poverty. Jesus’ little group of disciples and followers seemed like an insignificant number of people compared to the vast world population. Do we feel the same? Even where churches are growing Christians are in the minority.
Nor are sheep the most powerful or assertive animals in the world. They aren’t the roaring lions or crafty foxes of the animal kingdom. They are vulnerable, dependent, and defenseless. As Jesus’ little flock of sheep, we perceive the same weaknesses in ourselves. We are vulnerable. Perhaps the year just past has exposed more of our personal vulnerabilities than we care to think about: health concerns, family struggles, financial worries. We are at the mercy of the changing world around us. Political uncertainties upset us. Uncontrollable forces of nature threaten us.
Our status as Jesus’ little flock, his command that we not be afraid, suggest that there is an issue of trust with which we must struggle. In the context Jesus was speaking these words to his disciples. He knew that it was easy for them to worry about their earthly supply. He had taught them that God considered them incomparably more dear than the rest of his creation, things like birds or flowers. Despite this knowledge, they still found it difficult to be certain he would take care of them.
Our sin-sickened senses share the same fears. We withhold our trust. We base our conclusions on what we can see with our eyes instead of what God promises to our hearts. We may object that our fears are defensible, even sensible, but our lack of trust still calls for repentance.
Then Jesus leads us to look in the right direction to build that trust up again. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Look at what we have! Even before we look at the gift, look at the Giver! We have a Father who is pleased to give us things. It makes him happy to see us open his gifts. At Christmas you watched as your child or friend opened a gift you know they wanted. You saw their surprise and joy, their gasp or squeal, and it gave you a deep feeling of satisfaction.
The difference is that our Father is pleased to give us his gifts even when we look inside the box and we don’t get it right away. We may react with a disappointed, “oh.” That doesn’t stop him. He keeps on giving generously. He keeps on being happy to do so.
Then there is the obvious difference in value. One Christmas a brand new car appeared in my neighbor’s yard with a great big bow attached to the top, just like you see on TV. That is a worthless trinket compared to the gifts our Father gives. He is God, and his gifts literally cost him everything. God gives us himself, and the Lord of Lords and King of Kings becomes our Servant. God gives us his Son. He sacrifices the most precious life to save us from sin, and he doesn’t resent the cost. He is only happy to give it.
That leads to the gift Jesus promises here. He says our Father has been pleased to give you and me the kingdom! Now don’t we look silly worrying about something to eat or something to wear or how we are going to pay for things. We worry about plastic beads when all this time we have been holding gold and diamonds in our hands.
Remember the musical “Little Orphan Annie?” It’s a bit schmaltzy, but it plays like a modern day fairy-tale: poor little orphan gets adopted by lonely, rich industrialist and they live happily ever after. Our real story is more amazing. It is more than rags to riches. The Lord of the universe has snatched us from death, cleansed us from sin, adopted us and made us the children of God. He has given us his kingdom as our very own. What, then, is left for us to fear?