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Trinity 2 – Luke 14:15-24

by pastorjuhl ~ June 29th, 2011

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

“Supper’s ready!” You can almost hear the pitter-patter of feet running to the table. Everyone wants to get to the table first in order to get the best piece of chicken or the largest helping of green beans. Heads are bowed, the table prayer is prayed, and everyone stuffs their face.

“Church bell’s a-ringing!” Very few feet walk to the Lord’s House. Our heavenly Father turned to you a Father’s heart. He did not choose the easy part but gave His dearest treasure, His only-begotten Son, in order to save you from sin and death. He sets a great banquet before many people and sends servants out to call those invited to the table: Come, for all things are now ready.

Compared to any great banquet you attend elsewhere, our blessed Lord’s banquet is much greater. He serves food and drink that delivers eternal joy. You rest in His presence. He serves you. Everything is laid out before you. You know the words to speak. You open your mouth and His servant puts the food right there. You wouldn’t want to miss a meal like this, would you?

You miss the meal when you make excuses not to be here, just like the excuses given in Jesus’ parable in Luke chapter 14. One has bought a piece of ground sight unseen. He begs to be excused in order to see it. Another begs off in order to test five yoke of oxen he just bought. A third is a newlywed and considers it a great imposition to his life to bring his bride along with him to the banquet.

The excuses then and now haven’t changed. Consider the first excuse given. Some people do have to work on Sunday. They can’t help it. The Church is nice enough to allow for other times where Divine Service is offered. That’s a salutary thing to do. Nevertheless, some still make work an excuse for not coming to the Great Banquet of Word and Sacrament. “I have to mow the grass. The only time I can do it is Sunday morning at 10:00.” “I’ve got a list on honey-dos from here to Chicago and back. The only time I can do them is on the weekend about the time when church is going on.”

Consider the second excuse. Some put off their work that could be done another time in order to create an excuse not to come to the Great Banquet. “Your Church makes it inconvenient for me to come. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do on the weekend that can’t be done during the week.” “The only time I get real quality time with my family is Saturday night and Sunday morning. I have to give them the time they deserve. We’re going fishing. We’re going hunting. We’re going shopping. We’re going everyplace except church as a family.”

Then there’s the sorry excuse of the newlywed. In New Testament times, his excuse is valid. A newlywed was free from all obligatory duties for one year in order to get to know his wife. Using his freedom as a license to avoid attending a banquet that he was invited to attend is very bad judgment. You use the same judgment when you put other things that can wait ahead of the Great Banquet. “I have company and must entertain them.” “I have a party to attend tonight.” “I’m going to the ball game and won’t be back until the wee hours of the morning.” “I’m going to a convention on Sunday morning to beat the crowd.” “You understand, don’t you Pastor?”

For every excuse there is someone ready to take your place, the place prepared especially for you, at the Great Banquet. Repent from making foolish excuses to be elsewhere. The empty pews we see each week tell the story quite well. Even though many are invited, few take our heavenly Father up on His invitation. Why? “I don’t like Pastor.” “I need down time.” “My wife doesn’t believe in God.” “My husband says everyone who goes to that church is a hypocrite.” “We’re not just religious people anymore.”

Fine. The Lord God hears those excuses and answers accordingly. His answer to those who persistently ignore His gracious invitation is none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.

It is as if our heavenly Father would say: “Very well, my supper, too, is something, and what does it profit if it be better than their oxen, lands, homes and wives, when they now despise it, and regard their lands, oxen and homes, more precious? And when the hour shall come when they must forsake their oxen, lands and homes, then they would gladly also taste of my supper. But then, too, it shall be said: Dear friend, I am not at home at present, I cannot now wait on the guests, go forth to your lands, to your oxen, to your homes, they will, of course, afford you a better supper, because you have so securely and impudently despised my supper. Of course, I have cooked for you and let it cost me dear; this you have rejected with disdain. If now you have cooked better things, eat and be joyful, but you shall not taste of my supper” (Luther).

Come, for all things are now ready. What comfort this sweet sentence gives! The time of grace is now. God’s kingdom of undeserved love showered upon His beloved children continues whether or not people accept His invitation. Those who eat bread in the kingdom of heaven are filled with more than earthly food. They are filled with the benefits of Christ’s death on your behalf: sins forgiven, eternal life bestowed, salvation implanted.

King Solomon writes in Proverbs: Wisdom has built her house… She has sent out her maidens, she cries out from the highest places of the city, “Whoever is simple let him turn in here!” As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, “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 wise place to be for those who are being saved is at the Great Banquet of Word and Sacrament. Here in this banquet hall our heavenly Father has prepared a feast of no comparison to anything this side of heaven.

Here is the foretaste of the feast to come. Isaiah gives us a glimpse of the Greater Banquet in heaven: In this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces.

It boggles the mind why anyone would refuse an invitation to this Great Banquet of Word and Sacrament. No excuses! There still is room! Come to the Feast! Delay not, delay not! Why longer abuse/ The love and compassion of Jesus, Your God? / A fountain is opened; how can you refuse/ To wash and be cleanse in His pardoning blood (TLH 278:5)? Come, for all things are now ready.

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

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