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Trinity 2 – Luke 14:15-24

by pastorjuhl ~ May 29th, 2008

There’s lots of Luther in my sermon this weekend. He says it better than I could.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Every weekend our heavenly Father throws a great supper. We call it “church” or “Divine Service”. It is a great banquet which our heavenly Father and Master of the House has prepared, not just for one, or two, or three, but for the whole world. And were the whole world twice or many times as big, everyone could be nourished and satisfied, that is, be redeemed from sin, death, and the devil, and be saved. All that is necessary is to believe the Gospel and eat of this food (BML).

You would think no one would want to miss such an opulent feast. All a person needs to do is come, for all things are now ready. Seemingly everyone has an excuse. We pastors hear some lousy excuses why people don’t want to come to church. But the excuses in our Lord’s parable take the cake. Whoever heard of buying ground sight unseen? Sure, it’s been done. But it’s a lousy thing to do. People would think the man a laughingstock buying ground sight unseen then waiting until an invitation to a great supper comes to examine the land.

What’s worse is the man who bought five yoke of oxen and wants to prove them instead of attending the supper. It makes sense that one would make sure the animals do what the seller says they will do before you buy them.

The worst excuse is actually the best excuse. The newlywed man is free from obligations for one year. Missing a supper that you especially were invited to attend is improperly using his liberty. It would be like a devout Christian saying he or she is free from going to Divine Service for a year because they’ve gone so many times before that they time away to enjoy other things.

We chuckle when we hear that last excuse. But what’s yours? It’s understandable if you are sick or perhaps traveling. But with two opportunities every weekend there should be no excuse why you would want to miss this great banquet we call Divine Service. All it takes is one or two weeks away and you could be saying things like, “Well, I pray a lot by myself and read my Bible every day. I don’t need to go to church. I don’t need to show off for those people anymore. I never have time to myself. I’ve got to have time to fish, hunt, play golf, or just be lazy. Pastor, I ask you to have me excused on a permanent basis. I’ll practice my faith from home, thank you.” That sounds just as hollow as blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of heaven.

Those who will eat bread in the kingdom of heaven come to the supper in this kingdom when they are invited. They don’t treat our Lord’s Service to us in Word and Sacrament like a modern-day version of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. This hour together is not merely keeping up appointments with God. This is the feast of victory of our God.

While the Gospel is preached and published in all the world, few people accept it. Jesus calls the proclamation of the Gospel a supper because the Gospel shall be the last word that will usher in the end of the world. This supper is nothing else than a rich, expensive meal that God provides in Christ through the Gospel. He spreads before us great possessions and rich treasures.

What makes this supper unique compared to other suppers is how our Lord provides everything. Jesus Christ is at once chef, cook, host, butler, and food. Jesus Christ allows Himself to be roasted on our behalf. Just as a hen or anything else is not kept on the spit and roasted in order to remain there permanently, but upon being roasted is removed from the spit and placed on the table for people to eat and be nourished, have their hunger satisfied and become stronger, so Christ, having suffered with terrible pain on the cross, was afterwards removed from the spit of the cross, laid in the tomb, risen from the dead, and so on, in order that the whole world might have this food. For Christ was the world’s genuine Bread of Life, for Jews and Gentiles alike.

So now this heavenly food, so carefully prepared and subjected to the intense fire of the cross, is served up and offered to the whole world. Wherever Christians are gathered, there you find the table. The preaching of the Gospel is the dish. The servers are the pastors. Christ is the food. Through the pastor’s mouth the food is laid on the table and served. When the Gospel is preached, this food is served up and offered. It is embraced solely in the Word and is heard by both young and old, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, and the like.

This food is offered in the following way: the gospel is proclaimed, telling how Christ suffered, was crucified, and died for our sins. Everyone in the world is urged to come and not to stay away, to eat of this food, gladly hear the gospel of Christ, and believe what the gospel proclaims. For to the serving up belong three things: first, the dish, which is the Word of God; second, the waiter, that is the pastor’s mouth; and third, to believe it with all one’s heart. When these three things come together, man’s heart and soul begin to eat, saying, “Here is a deliciously prepared hen or chicken; here Christ is proclaimed; I see and hear what this food is, the ‘roasted’ Christ; I am to eat of this; hence, I must believe what is proclaimed and taught in the gospel. Whoever believes this with all his heart eats Christ” (BML).

What was an opportunity to put an end to Jesus becomes the beginning of the supper of victory we partake every Lord’s Day. Christ is roasted on our behalf that we may not be roasted for all eternity. When we eat His Body and drink His Blood, we eat and drink forgiveness, life, and salvation. We are prepared for the journey to the Great Supper in Paradise, where we will see our Lord Jesus face to face.

Saint John says it well in the Epistle: by this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Every weekend we lay down our lives, as it were, and heed the call to come to supper as heard from Solomon in his proverbs: come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding. Blessed indeed are you who eat bread here, for you shall eat the finest of feast in the kingdom of heaven. God grant it for Jesus’ sake.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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