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Jesus Died Naked With No Earthly Riches - Psalm 49 Sermon October Prayer Service

Jesus Died Naked With No Earthly Riches - Psalm 49 Sermon October Prayer Service

Prayer Service October 7th - 2015. Rev. Ted A. Giese, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina SK. Psalm 49 - Jesus Died Naked With No Earthly Riches       

          Hear this, all peoples!

                   Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

          both low and high,

                   rich and poor together!

          My mouth shall speak wisdom;

                   the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

          I will incline my ear to a proverb;

                   I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

          Why should I fear in times of trouble,

                   when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,

          those who trust in their wealth

                   and boast of the abundance of their riches?

          Truly no man can ransom another,

                   or give to God the price of his life,

          for the ransom of their life is costly

                   and can never suffice,

          that he should live on forever

                   and never see the pit.

          For he sees that even the wise die;

                   the fool and the stupid alike must perish

                   and leave their wealth to others.

          Their graves are their homes forever,

                   their dwelling places to all generations,

                   though they called lands by their own names.

          Man in his pomp will not remain;

                   he is like the beasts that perish.

          This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;

                   yet after them people approve of their boasts.

          Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;

                   death shall be their shepherd,

          and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.

                   Their form shall be consumed in Sheol,

                   with no place to dwell.

          But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,

                   for He will receive me.

          Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,

                   when the glory of his house increases.

          For when he dies he will carry nothing away;

                   his glory will not go down after him.

          For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed

                   —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—

          his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,

                   who will never again see light.

          Man in his pomp yet without understanding

          is like the beasts that perish.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. This Psalm is addressed to you, it's a teaching Psalm. It's message is to the rich, to the poor, to the powerful and to the lowly; it is for everyone and it is for you. The Sons of Korah ask this challenging question, "Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?"

Why? Their money gives them power - that's why. Their money gives them time to plot, time to scheme - that's why. Their money gives them influence - that's why. What does St. Paul say, "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils."[1] Their money, their love of their money can become a temptation to do evil against me - that's why I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?  Those Christians under the influence of ISIS, they are surrounded by iniquity, they are cheated out of their money by threats, they must leave - convert - or pay the tax,[2] a tax that gives marginal protection and in some cases only protects from immediate martyrdom. The Sons of Kora lived during a time when Israel and Judah had many rich and powerful enemies, enemy states surrounding them, all threatening to overpower them. Maybe you're personal worries are less dramatic maybe you simply fret that when you work hard and other work less and make more, it's unfair, unjust -  you think, 'that's why I have fear, fear of not getting ahead.'

It can be tempting to sit up at night and take an account of all the trouble that could befall you, the troubles that encircle you. Yet that question asked by the Sons of Korah has a different answer, their answer is - don't fear. What can they do to you? What can they really do to you? Make you suffer? Enslave you? Kill you? Whatever predicament you might find yourself in - unemployment, sickness, poor living conditions, danger - Jesus says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Words will not pass away."[3] Apart from His word it will all go in the end. Eventually all trouble will pass away. All that will be left of this time, of this place, of these days, will be God and His people, and, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things (will) have passed away.”[4] Saint John also says, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more."[5] That raging sea of trouble gone, gone for good, gone forever.

Specifically Psalm 49 hinges on one simple thing: Once you've crossed the threshold of death everything changes - and everyone crosses that threshold. The rich, "the wise ... the fool and the stupid alike must perish, (they all die) and leave their wealth to others." So don't worry about them, even if they are successful and prosperous what will it gain them in the end. When they die, what do the rich gain from having been rich? Jesus teaches you this parable, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Jesus prefaced this teaching with a warning saying, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”[6] Therefore as the Psalmists say, "Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him."

But ... but ... 'money bothers me, my lack of it, their abundance of it. Will I have enough for my retirement, will I have enough for this week?' Jesus says, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."[7] 'Ok then how about today?' You ask! Jesus says, "do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"[8] In His prayer that He gives you to pray - the prayer He prayed to His Heavenly Father - Jesus says, "give us this day our daily bread." You've been struggling with contentment, you've coveted what others have, you have broken the 9th and 10th commandments. Jesus lived and died for these sins. In life He resisted temptation, at the cross He was paid the wage earned by your sin, remember what St. Paul says, "the wages of sin is death."[9] He exchanged His innocent blood for your black heart. Innocent blood free from sin from conception to crucifixion. 

St. Matthew tells us that, "Jesus (after His baptism) was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But [Jesus] answered, “It is written,

          “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

                   but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

          Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written,

          “‘He will command His angels concerning You,’


          “‘On their hands they will bear You up,

                   lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’”

          Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed [Jesus] all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to [Jesus], “All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

          “‘You shall worship the Lord your God

                   and Him only shall you serve.’”

          Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him."[10] Those stones, those kingdoms will all pass away, but God's word would not, has not, will not pass away.

Jesus continued in this way of living, trusting God's word over riches. Of Himself Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”[11] Crowned with thorns at the cross, beaten, crushed for our iniquities, pierced with nails to the wood for our transgressions[12] Jesus hung naked and prayed for those who were crucifying Him saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide His garments.[13] He went to His death with nothing but His trust in His heavenly Father. When Jesus prayed “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”[14] It's good to remember that this is the opening phrase in Psalm 22, a Psalm of deep and surpassing trust in the face of death, and that the final words of Jesus as He died, naked with no earthly riches upon the cross, were words of trust when He says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this [Jesus] breathed his last.[15]

Jesus knew what it is like to have nothing but His faith and to be surrounded by self absorbed enemies. People with a vested interest in seeing Him dead, people dicing for His clothing as He hung their dying in their sight. This means that Jesus is right there with you in your time of trouble. And if Jesus is with you, "Why should [you] fear in times of trouble?"  Like St. Paul in his letter to the Roman Christian says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"[16] The Psalmists say that even the death which comes to all people need not bother you because, "God will ransom [your] soul from the power of Sheol, (the power of the dead) for He will receive [you]."  St. Paul also teaches us that, "We were buried therefore with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."[17]

The Psalmists are saying in Psalm 49 that no amount of money can buy this, that the riches of man cannot ransom another, that there is not enough money in all the world that can be given to God to buy eternal life or even to buy one more day past the time He has allotted for you. "Only one man can pay a ransom for sin. Only one can redeem a life. And the ransom He paid is not for sale. It is a gift of God, given freely to all who believe in Jesus, the man that God sent to pay for sin. This ransom was paid for rich and poor without distinction."[18] And how was it paid? Jesus didn't buy your salvation with money, no St. Peter says, "you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot."[19]

"Although  riches can buy much land, the only real estate (that a faithless) rich man can occupy permanently is the grave."[20] However, the rich man with the love of Christ, with faith in God, gains eternal life as a gift from God in the blood of Christ Jesus - the poor man who hates Jesus and trusts only in his schemes to steal, coveting all day long what isn't his, believing that he somehow deserves what belongs to others, with no thankfulness to God and no repentance will die the second death as much as the one who trusted in his riches in life to the exclusion of faith in Christ.[21] There is a great temptation in life to trust in money and in things - to covet more thinking that having more will make you happy, this is amplified both when a person is very rich as well as when a person is very poor. If you are in the middle of things you too face these temptations because there is always more to have, more things, more money, bigger barns, Psalm 49 says, "This is the path of those who have foolish confidence." The world may fawn over them. But what will it get them?

Whatever your situations be it rich or poor, listen: Eternal riches, eternal life are found only in Jesus, in your baptism cling to Him and to His cross. You've failed and trusted in money and things instead of God? Jesus forgives that. You've looked at the success of others coveting what doesn't  belong to you? Jesus forgives that. You've taken from the rich, from work, what isn't yours telling yourself that it's just and right and fair to redistribute their wealth? Jesus forgives that. You've taken advantage of the poor? Jesus forgives that. Jesus forgives you. Put your trust in Him - go and sin no more. Amen.    

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] 1 Timothy 6:10
[2] The tax is to have the limited protection status of  dhimmitude within an Islamic Caliphate.
[3] Mark 13:31
[4] Revelation 21:4
[5] Revelation 21:1
[6] Luke 12:15-21
[7] Matthew 6:34
[8] Matthew 6:25 
[9] Romans 6:23
[10] Matthew 4:1-11
[11] Luke 9:58
[12] Isaiah 53:5
[13] Luke 23:34 
[14] Matthew 27:46
[15] Luke 23:46
[16] Romans 8:31
[17] Romans 6:4
[18] A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, John F. Burg, Northwestern Publishing House 2004, pg 487.
[19] 1 Peter 1:18-19
[20] Burg, pg 486.
[21] Revelation 21:8