Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Even Jesus calls us a “little” flock here. That suggests that we suffer from a certain poverty. Just as Jesus had his little group of disciples and followers who seemed like an insignificant number of people compared to the vast world population, so we Christians may feel like a little flock. Our churches don’t consist of vast numbers of people. More and more our minority status in our nation and our world becomes clear.
Nor are sheep the most powerful or assertive animals. They aren’t the roaring lions or the crafty foxes of the animal kingdom. They are generally 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. The pandemic has ruled our lives since March. It has killed over a quarter million people in the United States alone and destroyed a wide swath of our economy. Police violence and racism, dangerous and destructive riots in reaction, the political divisiveness of an election year have all added to our sense of helplessness.
As Jesus’ little flock, his command that we not be afraid suggests that there is an issue of trust with which we must struggle. In the context, Jesus was speaking these words because he knew that it was all too easy for his disciples to worry about their daily provision. They knew that God considered them incomparably more dear than birds or flowers or other created things. Despite this knowledge, they still found it difficult to conclude that he would take care of them. They still worried about fulfilling their basic needs.
Our sin-sickened senses share the same fears. We withhold our trust. We base our conclusions on what our eyes see rather than what God promises our hearts. At times we may believe that our fears our defensible, even sensible. Such lack of trust still calls for repentance.
Then Jesus leads us to look in the right direction. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Just 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. Perhaps you have had a similar experience this Christmas. You watched as your child or friend opened a gift you know they wanted. Their surprise and joy, their gasp or squeal, 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, even when our reaction is a disinterested, “oh.” That doesn’t stop him, but he keeps on giving generously, and he keeps on being happy to do so.
Then there is the obvious difference in value. One Christmas there was a brand new car sitting in our neighbor’s yard with a great big bow on top. Such a gift is still 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, and he sacrifices the most precious life to save us from sin, and he doesn’t resent the cost, but he is only happy to give it.
Then there is the gift he has given us here. Jesus says that he has been pleased to give you and me the kingdom! Now don’t we look silly worrying about something to eat, something to wear, or how we are going to pay for things. We are worrying about plastic beads when all this time we have been holding gold and diamonds in our hands. The Lord of all the universe has snatched us from death, cleansed us from sin, adopted us and made us his children, and given us his kingdom as our very own.
Our Father has taken care of the big things, the hard things. He will not run out of the resources necessary to care for us in the smaller things. The Apostle Paul once said, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him graciously give us all things.” This year we can be sure we have nothing to fear in light of such gifts.