TEXT: LUKE 19:1-10 (I CORINTHIANS 11:26)
BECAUSE JESUS STILL SERVES
BEAUTIFUL “GOOD NEWS” FEET ABOUND!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.  Dear hearers of the Word made flesh; Dear attendees at this “Beautiful Feet” conference.

Filthy rich!  That’s what Zacchaeus was!  Tax collectors could legally shake down tax payers to line their own pockets.  Standard Roman operating procedure for tax farmers included some expectation of possible extortion or fraud.   Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector!  This little chief had big wealth.  His possessions, however, were sullied and soiled.  He really was filthy rich!

He had no doubt heard about Jesus – heard of His preaching – heard that He ate with tax collectors and sinners – even heard that He called a tax collector right from his tax booth (Levi) to be His disciple (Mark 2:13-17).  It is no surprise that Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was.

 

TEXT: LUKE 19:1-10 (I CORINTHIANS 11:26)
BECAUSE JESUS STILL SERVES
BEAUTIFUL “GOOD NEWS” FEET ABOUND!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.  Dear hearers of the Word made flesh; Dear attendees at this “Beautiful Feet” conference.

Filthy rich!  That’s what Zacchaeus was!  Tax collectors could legally shake down tax payers to line their own pockets.  Standard Roman operating procedure for tax farmers included some expectation of possible extortion or fraud.   Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector!  This little chief had big wealth.  His possessions, however, were sullied and soiled.  He really was filthy rich!

He had no doubt heard about Jesus – heard of His preaching – heard that He ate with tax collectors and sinners – even heard that He called a tax collector right from his tax booth (Levi) to be His disciple (Mark 2:13-17).  It is no surprise that Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was.

Small in stature he ran ahead on that street in Jericho and climbed a tree.  Both of these actions (running and climbing) were demeaning actions for people of wealth or high position.  But Zacchaeus ran and climbed nonetheless.  From his perch he could see Jesus coming his way.  What he didn’t initially realize is that the one walking toward him - who would soon look up and speak to him -possessed the most beautiful feet in the world!  “How are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  Not only did the One who looked up and spoke to him in the tree preach the good news perfectly – but in truth – He is the good news for this dying world!  How beautiful the feet of the one passing by the way of Zacchaeus in Jericho that day!

Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must abide at your house today.  So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.  Jesus entered to lodge with Zacchaeus.  With lodging came eating in the home of this sinful man.  It was an amazing culmination to the meals Jesus had with sinners throughout His ministry. His abiding in Zacchaeus’ home took place shortly before He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  

The grumbling outside the house did not prevent beautiful words inside the house!  Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.  In place of his filthy riches Zacchaeus had received the ultimate treasure – Salvation – from the presence and the preaching of the One with beautiful feet.  In place of a greedy, grasping heart – the Lord had created a new, large, generous heart in this little man.  The presence and the preaching of Jesus enabled this chief tax collector to know that he was the chief of sinners.  In joyful repentance he stood as to make a speech.  “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.  And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.  

It was a great reversal!  This tax collector and sinner is now a son of Abraham – not through physical descent – but in faith!  This little man now had beautiful feet simply by receiving in joy the salvation Jesus’ brought to Him.  It is Jesus who calls Zacchaeus!  It is Jesus who says it is necessary for Him to abide at Zacchaeus’ house!  It is Jesus who brings Him salvation!  Yet consider how beautiful the feet of this little man are for us – joyfully receiving Christ – standing to confess the work of Christ in His house.

Dear fellow-redeemed; your feet are most beautiful in a similar way.  It is a way far too easily overlooked in the Church today!  It is a way astounding in testimony to the love of God in Jesus Christ.  It is pure Gospel preaching that God does through you – often without your being aware of it.  Pastors may sometimes lack in their Gospel proclamation – but never this proclamation you make.  

As with Zacchaeus, it is proclamation that depends upon the presence of Jesus in your house – your house of worship!  It is proclamation that flows directly from your joyfully receiving what He is present to give – even as Zacchaeus received what Jesus gave to him in his house.

That forgiving, saving gift is the gift Jesus comes among His gathered people to serve at His table.  The Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to speak of it this way in His first letter to the Church at Corinth.  “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).   The meaning here is literally you all proclaim.”  This is grace upon grace from the God of grace!  By God’s design there is a beautiful proclamation made by those receiving Holy Communion.  This reality is made clear by the mission word proclaim – the same word used throughout the Book of Acts for the apostolic proclamation of Christ.  

As receive what Jesus serves – on bended knee at the altar – or standing - as your practice may be – how beautiful are your communal feet!  The whole congregation together in unity proclaims the death of Christ – even as they receive the body and blood of their Lord for the forgiveness of their sins.  C. F. W. Walther therefore called the Lord’s Supper the pulpit of the laity.  How beautiful are the feet of those who preach (who proclaim) the good news!   It is not the chief reason we hunger and thirst for the heavenly food the risen Christ comes to serve in weekly worship.  The chief reason is to receive this healing, restoring, releasing, forgiving, recreating food from his hand.  But make no mistake about this beautiful proclamation God does through you even as Jesus serves you.  

There can be no better news to proclaim to this dying world than the death of Christ!  It’s what Jesus left Zacchaeus’ house and continued on His way to Jerusalem to accomplish!  The proclamation of Christ crucified never competes with His glorious resurrection.  Instead the open tomb of Jesus casts a brilliant light on the world’s redemption that Christ finished on the cross!  

Jesus is life itself!  It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him – impossible (Acts 2:24).  He had repeatedly said He would rise on the third day and his Word always does what He says.  There was no panic in heaven over what took place on Calvary.  Indeed all heaven still proclaims what took place there – “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12).

The crucial matter for us dying sinners is this.  Could He through whom all life is created, who is high and lifted up, who is holy and sinless, who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, could He come down into our dying world in the flesh?  In that flesh could He be made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21)?  Under the crushing load of our sin could He offer a sacrifice so complete as to satisfy God’s wrath against sin –as to make peace for us with God by His blood?  

The answer is yes!  Oh blessed yes!  Oh beautiful yes!  Because He did - it is finished!  He came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.  As He said to Zacchaeus…the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. As John the Baptist said of Him – Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  Because He did – because the Son of God humbled Himself under our dying and damming penalty – because He gave not half His goods but all that He is for us - there is joyful reason to live in Him and for Him and every day that He gives us life!  

How beautiful are His feet – driven through and pinned to the dead wood of the cross.  How beautiful are His feet – as His corpse is taken down from the cross and wrapped hastily for burial.  How does the hymn verse state it?  Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ to breathe our poisoned air, To drink for us the dark despair That strangled our reluctant breath.  How beautiful the feet that trod The road that leads us back to God!  How beautiful the feet that ran To bring the great good news to man!  

How beautiful are His feet on the morning of the third day as He appeared to Mary in the garden!  How beautiful are His feet on the evening of the third day as He preached a seven mile sermon on the road to Emmaus.  How beautiful are His feet as He ascended to receive all authority in heaven and earth - to be with us more than ever through the work of the Holy Spirit.  How beautiful are His feet as the living Christ comes among you in weekly worship to teach you and to feed you still today.  

Today salvation has come to this house
He said of His presence at Zacchaeus’ home.  Today salvation comes to this house of worship He says by His presence and His peace-bestowing gifts – even as He enters under the roof of your mouth in weekly worship to abide with you.  He clothed you with Himself in your baptism (Galatians 3:27).  How beautiful you are to the Holy Trinity!  Wonder of wonders – grace upon grace – even as you receive from Jesus His holy body and His holy blood He gives you beautiful feet together!
He came not to be served but to serve and He is still serving!

God help us to speak of His love in our vocations!  God help us to support the mission of His Church through our gifts and our prayers and our time and our service.  God help us give even our lives in His mission, should He so lead us.  God help us also to find our deepest joy in the ongoing service of the risen Christ – in His ministry to His gathered people.  No filthy riches or fleeting treasure there!  Only the rich robes of His righteousness for His people!  Only the beautiful proclamation of His death through His people until He comes again!  

Everything depends on Him!  Because He did!  Because He still does – for you and for others through you!  

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a