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Trinity 2 – Luke 14:15-24

by pastorjuhl ~ June 17th, 2009

Revised considerably from 2004.

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

The last thing you want at a feast is uninvited guests showing up. There may not be enough food for the invited guests. There may not be enough room for everyone. Careful plans are thrown for a loop. Rather than the uninvited guests being embarrassed, it’s the host who is embarrassed because of lack of preparation.

Jesus Christ takes this scene and turns it on its head when the uninvited losers become the guests of honor! What’s more, still there is room, even after some of those invited made weak excuses for missing the feast.

Few of us would let the opportunity for food, drink, and conversation pass. But that’s exactly what some do in our Lord’s parable. The host sends a servant to make sure those invited attend the feast. One replies I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused. Another says I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused. A third says I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. The last one invited does not asked to be excused because he has an excuse. Deuteronomy chapter 24 says When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has chosen.

Not much has changed since Jesus first told this parable. There is a Great Feast each weekend here at the corner of Second and Pine. All are invited to come to the Feast. Like those in Luke chapter 14, there are excuses. Some are better than others are. Some must work. That’s one reason why we have a Saturday night Divine Service. Other excuses could be called the product of a wild imagination. The Divine Service cuts into people’s fishing, golfing, hunting, newspaper reading, television watching, eating, sleeping, or any other -ing suffix word that can be conjured. If only those invited would be honest. If only they would not make excuses, look the pastor, elder, or any one of us in the eye and say, “I’m not hungry for what is being served”.

Here in this chancel is the Bread of Life that satisfies the hungry heart. Here in this chancel is the Medicine of immortality from the Great Physician that cures the sickness of sin. Here in this chancel is the antidote to death. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to avoid eating and drinking the Means of Grace. Perhaps it’s the menu. The bill of fare is good for some but not for others. That’s like saying your stomach is rumbling, food is on the table ready to eat, but you won’t eat because you believe your pangs of hunger are false. It’s better to go hungry than eat. After all, who knows you better than you do?

Our Lord’s parable is a reaction to a certain Pharisee who said Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! The Pharisees are invited to the Feast but they make excuse after excuse not to eat. They want to kill the Master before anyone eats the food. The Jews are invited to the Feast but many of them make excuse after excuse not to eat. Some Jews think the Master is a liar.

The same thing happens today. Multitudes are invited to the Master’s feast but won’t come because they think they know better than the Master does. Worse yet, they think they don’t need the Master’s food. Simply knowing about the Feast and believing the Feast is for them is enough.

The problem of rejecting the open invitation to the Feast is not new. Saint John writes in today’s Epistle: do not marvel if the world hates you. Still we are surprised, disappointed, stunned, and quite upset that so many people despise the Master’s Feast and the Master’s servants who invite everyone to the Feast. The Master then invites the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind to the feast but still there is room. Last of all are those in the highways and hedges. They are compelled to come to the Feast. You can almost picture the scene. Servants shaking the bushes by the side of the road to flush out the dregs of society so they may attend the Feast.

It just so happens that the dregs of society, the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind are the guests of honor at the Master’s Feast. Jesus has not read Miss Manners. The uninvited are the guests of honor. The invited are no longer welcome. They have made their own feast. They will eat what they want, when they want. Those not invited receive a treat that can’t be compared to anything on earth.

You and I are the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. We are the wise ones. The wise people invited to the Feast are the fools. The world looks at us and thinks us simpletons. Wisdom’s maidens say to the simpletons: come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.

The way of understanding leads to the font, the pulpit, and the altar. Jesus Christ delivers His forgiveness and life at these holy places. The font, altar, and pulpit are more than furniture. They are where the life of the party, the Master of the Feast, delivers His joy. The so-called wise of the world gaze on the cross of Jesus and laugh that a man like Christ would die for the sins of the world. The so-called fools of the world gaze on the cross of Jesus and see their salvation from sin and death. As King Solomon writes in the Proverbs: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Fear is not just being afraid of God. The fear King Solomon writes about is a holy fear; awe at how the King of Grace redeems lost and condemned creatures like you and me. Knowledge of the Holy One is more than just head knowledge that is learned for a time and recalled when necessary. The knowledge King Solomon writes about is the sure and certain hope of eternity with God in the heavenly mansions. As Jesus abides with us now in Word, water, Body, and Blood, He abides with us forever hereafter face-to-face.

Happy are those who heed the call of the servants looking for the poor, maimed, lame, blind, as well as those along the highway and those in the hedges. When the servant cries come, for all things are now ready, they come at their Master’s call to dine with Him around the altar of life. As we sang in the Chief Hymn:

O God, let us hear when our Shepherd shall call

In accents persuasive and tender,

That while there is time we make haste, one and all,

And find Him, our mighty defender.

Have mercy upon us, O Jesus!

Lord, have mercy upon us and feed us with Your heavenly Feast now and forever!

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

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