Sermon preached by The Reverend Dr Sam Cappleman
You can’t take it with you, or can you? - Luke 12 v 13 - 21
The moral of the story from the gospel reading today would certainly seem to be ‘You can’t take it with you!’
I remember a item on the Esther Rantzen programme many years ago where they were running an investigation into selling central heating by going from door to door
One aspiring sales rep knocked on the door of an old man and asked whether he would be interested in getting central heating fitted
The old man replied that he wasn’t, saying ‘I’m not going to be here long enough to make it worthwhile’
‘That’s no problem’, said the salesman, ‘we’ve go a scheme where you can take it with you’
‘Listen mate’, said the old man, ‘Where I’m going I won’t need central heating’
Whatever the spiritual destiny of the old man, his response certainly made the young sales man think
A bit like today’s gospel reading
Is it just about not being able to take things with us when we die?
Or is it about the focus of our lives whilst we’re here?
I went to a sporting event this week
It was interesting watching the photographers take pictures
From time to time they would change the lens on their cameras to enable them to change focus and change their position to get a different perspective
Perhaps in this passage Jesus is challenging his listeners to change the focus and perspective through which they see life and to get a different focus and perspective for themselves
It starts off by someone, knowing Jesus was well versed in Jewish law, asking Him to tell his brother to divide his inheritance with him. Tell him not to be greedy and let me have some.
In Jewish law at the time, inheritance was strictly governed; when the father died the estate (mainly land) was passed to the sons, the eldest son getting a double portion and the rest being split equally
So it could be interpreted that the man asking the question has already received his inheritance too but his brother has got more and so he’s asking Jesus to get some more for him, perhaps to even things up a bit – now who’s being greedy?
But life then was much the same as it is now, we often want what other people have, especially if we think they’ve got more than we have and we’ve been badly done to…
Being concerned with inheritance has always been important for the Jews, whether that was the Promised Land or the lands that passed through the family
But Jesus stops them in their tracks and says it’s not the physical inheritance that’s critical, it’s the spiritual inheritance
The Jews were still focused on the physical inheritance of the Promised Land but had almost forgotten their spiritual inheritance as being he chosen people of God
They’d got the wrong lens on their cameras and needed to change to get the right perspective
And Jesus was telling he man who asked him the question that he was focusing on the wrong things
Paul, in Colossians puts it this way, he says, ‘set you hearts on things above… …not earthly things’
And that’s a difficult thing to do
So often we are like the questioning man, we want more worldly things and possessions for ourselves
We don’t think we’ve got our fare share, irrespective of what others have got, we want more
But as we begin to focus on God it puts other things in their rightful perspective
Jesus is not saying money isn’t important – but He is saying it’s not the most important thing in life
So the question to us today is, ‘Where is our focus and perspective?’
Are we worried and concerned that we won’t have enough?
Do we think we don’t have our fair share?
The Gospel shows that it doesn’t matter what we have or what we accumulate in a physical sense, that’s not important
What’s important is focusing on God, trusting in Him to proved not just for our needs today, but for our eternal inheritance through Jesus Christ, an inheritance we can take with us
That’s not to say we don’t need to play our part in meeting our physical needs
But Jesus reminds us, as he reminded the questioning man, we shouldn’t focus on them to the exclusion of everything else, especially a focus on God, the ultimate provider.