SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – JUNE 29, 2014
LUKE 14:15-24; EPHESIANS 2:13-22; PROVERBS 9:1-10
THE LORD LOVES TO BANQUET YOU!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University student center, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Lord loves a banquet!  He is happiest when His people are gathered at table with Him.  This is in keeping with His delight in giving out good things!  He gives us delightful, ordinary things each day.  He gives things far beyond ordinary – the solar system – flinging out the galaxies and nebulae and more beyond that.  He gives us our bodies and their extraordinary abilities.   


The Holy Spirit caused Solomon to write - Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.  This Wisdom is the pre-incarnate Christ who designed the world (Proverbs 8:22-30) This Wisdom is Christ whose joy is the human race (8:31).  Pre-existent Wisdom became incarnate and calls out – “Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  Leave your simple ways, and live and walk in the way of insight.”  The Lord loves a banquet!  He is happiest when His people are gathered at table with Him. 

 

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – JUNE 29, 2014
LUKE 14:15-24; EPHESIANS 2:13-22; PROVERBS 9:1-10
THE LORD LOVES TO BANQUET YOU!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University student center, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Lord loves a banquet!  He is happiest when His people are gathered at table with Him.  This is in keeping with His delight in giving out good things!  He gives us delightful, ordinary things each day.  He gives things far beyond ordinary – the solar system – flinging out the galaxies and nebulae and more beyond that.  He gives us our bodies and their extraordinary abilities.   


The Holy Spirit caused Solomon to write - Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.  This Wisdom is the pre-incarnate Christ who designed the world (Proverbs 8:22-30) This Wisdom is Christ whose joy is the human race (8:31).  Pre-existent Wisdom became incarnate and calls out – “Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  Leave your simple ways, and live and walk in the way of insight.”  The Lord loves a banquet!  He is happiest when His people are gathered at table with Him. 


Jesus – on His way to Jerusalem tells of a banquet.  One of those who reclined at table with Jesus had heard him speak of who to invite if you gave a feast.  Jesus said not to invite your friends or the rich who could repay you but rather the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  He ended – For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the Just.  The man who heard these things then said – “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  Was that man stating the same thing that Jesus had just taught?


In reality, his statement would seem to be a challenge for Jesus to express His views on the great end-time banquet with the Messiah.  The Jews anticipated that the Messiah’s age would begin with a banquet after a military victory.  Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah had spoken of a banquet on God’s holy mountain (Isaiah 25:6-9).   He described a feast of rich food and well-aged wine for “all peoples.”  God would swallow up death forever – the veil that is spread over all nations.  The Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.


The Jews, however, had largely rejected Isaiah’s vision of the banquet God would give.  The Targum (an Aramaic interpretation of the Hebrew Bible) said of this banquet that the Gentiles would be killed with plagues.  The Book of Enoch – a non-biblical Jewish work present in the centuries before Christ - said of this banquet that the Angel of death would destroy the Gentiles.  The Messianic Rule of the Qumran community said of this banquet that no Gentiles would be present - nor anyone lame or blind or crippled. (Bailey – Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes – p.311ff.)  The Lord loves a banquet but Jesus’ view of the end-time banquet differed markedly from their views!

He said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  But they all alike began to make excuses.  The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field and I must go out and see it.  Please have me excused.  This was not a valid excuse – but a clear public insult!  With water scarcity – rocky soil – terracing needs – no one bought a field without first carefully inspecting it.  And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them.  Please have me excused.  This was an even clearer public snub for such an unseen purchase was simply not done!  Oxen had to pull together and tire together to be of any use.   No one would bid on even one pair without first testing them carefully.  And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’   This man doesn’t even ask to be excused.  The reason he offers isn’t his wedding day but simply that he has domestic duties as a married man – so thanks for the invitation – but no thanks!  Fellow-redeemed, these refusals of God’s invitation display a remarkable disdain for the banquet He offers. I’ve got plans and they come before the master’s invitation.


So the servant came and reported these things to his master.  Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.  Scripture says that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20).  But consider the new and unprecedented action that flows from God’s anger here.  ‘Come for everything is now ready’ is the invitation!  “Not interested – leave me alone” is the reply.  Yet the anger of the master does not lead to immediate retribution against those who have insulted Him.  It does lead to immediate bestowal of this blessed invitation on others! 


The very ones the Pharisees considered unclean – those reduced to begging by poverty or blindness or crippling disease are sought out and invited.  The very ones the Qumran Community determined to bar from the Messianic banquet are energetically included.  Those despised by the world are loved by God.  And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.   The highways and the hedges are outside the city indicating God’s reaching to the Gentiles.   As St. Paul preached to the Church at Ephesus - But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace who has made us both one…


The Lord loves a banquet and He has prepared it for all peoples.  A multitude comes from the east and the west to sit at the feast of salvation.  With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the blest, obeying the Lord’s invitation (LSB – 510).  The Lord loves a banquet and He intends for you to be there feasting with Him.  O God, let us hear when our Shepherd shall call in accents persuasive and tender, That where there is time we make haste one and all, And find Him, our mighty defender.  Jesus came first to Old Testament Israel – but not only for Old Testament Israel.  There is unspeakable love shown by God in these words!  He is immeasurably more ready to give than we sinners are to receive.  


The master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.  What does it mean that God compels people to come in?  This is nothing like the Spanish inquisition.  This is nothing like threats of force or imprisonments or violence made by other religions in our day.  Dr. Luther rightly taught that this is not an outward but an inward compelling.  It includes accusing sin into the conscience and the despairing of self.  It includes speaking the peace won by the blood of His cross and the gracious invitation to sit down at the table of this rich Lord and eat. 


The compelling Jesus sets forth here is nothing forceful but everything faithful in keeping with the Gospel.  It is a word to those who are “outside” who know they do not belong.  It is a sweet word of invitation to those who see themselves as totally unworthy.  It is a delightful and drawing word for those who think “He doesn’t really want me - I don’t measure up to this invitation.”  It is for those who are most offensive to you and to me – those despised by the world.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  Those you know who have never heard the Lord’s invitation – those you know who have despised the Lord’s invitation – those who are religiously making false invitations of the law or claiming elite human wisdom of naturalistic religion denying God – God desires all of them to repent and live.  God gives no “approval” to write someone off from His desire for them to receive His grace. 


The compelling Jesus sets forth here is also for you.  You once were blind – but now you see – you see Jesus and His forgiveness.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…You desire to walk in the way of insight – but how lame and crippled that walk sometimes seems.  Excuses bubble up in your mind and heart also to the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Holy One.  Surely no teams of oxen seem more important to you than God’s invitation – but what about sports teams – domestic duties – the pressures of work and possessions – just life itself?  


How centered is your daily life on Jesus’ wondrous invitation – ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  Is daily prayer that proceeds from the reading of His Word your most treasured time?  Or is a more ready thought – Please have me excused.  In view of Jesus’ gracious invitation – ‘Come, for everything is now ready’ - how joyful is your anticipation of weekly worship?  Is it that which anchors your week – healing medicine you have to have?  How fully and faithfully do you pray the second petition – “Thy Kingdom Come?” - Committing the first-fruits of your treasures proportionately to further the Gospel proclamation and genuinely desiring the return of Christ and the coming of the Last Day?  ‘Come for everything is now ready.’  Or are the thoughts more strongly present – Please have me excused – not now with the prayers – not now with the proportionate giving – not now with the promised return of the lord. 


Yes, you were once blind and now you see Jesus in faith – but how easily – how constantly – cataracts of earthly concern work to cloud out that brilliant light.  The Father the Son and the Holy Spirit loves a banquet – and you have a place at His table.  He did not put His name on you in the washing of rebirth in order to exclude you.  Dear Christians – God is immeasurably more ready to give to you than you are to receive!  We are so naturally dull to the wonder of our status – as His invited guests – and to the fullness of our eternal future.  Truth be told – we also deserve the last word Jesus speaks here – “For I tell you, none of those men invited shall taste my banquet.”  Therefore – keep on leaving your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”


God demands to be the love of your heart and the holy fear of your life – nothing less!  His reproof and correction for your failure on both counts hits me as squarely as it hits you.  Fear and love of God are not inherent qualities in any of us.  God must continually give us what we do not ourselves possess.  How does He do so?  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.  He constantly reproves and corrects you with his Word of Law and that hurts!  But His reproof is good!  He disciplines those He loves!  So repent!  Turn from those earth-bound perspectives – greed, worry, pride!  Keep on deleting those tired old excuses to God’s invitation that keep on popping up on the display monitor of your mind and heart. 


Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.   God does not stop with reproof.  He continues with instruction in righteousness – which is only for the humble - the lame - the beggars.  Only those who are beggars before God receive in faith the invitation of His grace.  Christ is the cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  Yet our cornerstone - our rock and fortress - crumbled under the simple ways of our sin.  To break down the dividing wall between God and us required that it be broken down in the flesh of He who is incarnate Wisdom.  To bring us near who were far off required the blood-letting of the Son of God as the Father stood far off. 


Now there is peace!  He Himself is our peace!  He came and preached peace to you who were far off and to those who were near.  Risen from the grave – He is still preaching and says to you “peace be with you!  He is persistent – inviting and reaching out again and again!  His grace will fulfill His plan to save the lost – to fill the master’s house!  In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.  The Lord loves a banquet!  He is happiest when His people are gathered at table with Him.  Come and eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a