20th SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 10-13-2019
LUTHER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, SHOREWOOD, WI
Rev. Michael Larson
Introit: Psalm 48
The Lord is righteous in all he has done to us,
For we have not obeyed his commandments.
Glorify your name, O Lord;
And deal with us according to your great mercy.
1 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God, his holy mountain.
9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
In the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
And to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Collect of the Day:
O Lord, grant to Your faithful people pardon and peace that they may be cleansed from all their sins and serve You with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament: Isaiah 55:1-9
The Compassion of the Lord
1 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
hand I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Epistle: Ephesians 5:15-21
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Alleluia. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Holy Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants1 to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
This morning Jesus tells us what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about. It’s a Feast. It’s compared to a King who throws a lavish wedding feast for his son. So, he sends out prophets and messengers to ring the dinner bell. “Come,” they say, “Everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” But those who were invited made light of that invitation. They spurned that gracious invitation. Being filled with hatred, they even killed the King’s messengers.
But that the King would not tolerate. So he sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned the city to the ground.
The King said again, “The wedding feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you can find.’ So that’s what the King’s servants did. The invitation went out to all, the bad and the good, so that the wedding hall was filled with guests. The tables filled. And what a glorious feast it was.
So the King came in to greet those guests. But one was not wearing the proper attire. He wasn’t wearing the wedding garment. So he was bound hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness – a place where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Ok now. What can learn from our Lord’s teaching? Well, first, who is this King who lays out this lavish wedding feast? Well, it’s God our heavenly Father, a great and rich King He is! Who prepared for His beloved Son, Christ Jesus, a splendid, extravagant wedding. A marriage feast between Christ, the bridegroom, and His bride, the church.
And who are the servants in today’s Gospel – those messengers who go out with the invitation, “Come, for everything is ready?” They are the holy prophets and apostles, the evangelists, who summon and call the guests by the preaching of the Gospel.
But how is that preaching received? Indifference, outright hostility, and murderous rage. King Manasseh, after all, took God’s messenger Isaiah, and ordered him sawed in half. Jehoiakim took God’s messenger Jeremiah and put him to death. The priests had Zechariah killed. King Herod took John’s head. Caiaphas and the chief priests rejected Christ our Lord, the greatest messenger of all, and begged Pilate to crucify Him. The Pharisees and Scribes ordered St. Stephen, God’s preacher of grace, stoned.
When the King in the parable heard of the refusals of the invited guests, our Gospel says he became angry and sent out his army and destroyed those murderers and set fire to their city. This is exactly what happened in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, when everything, city and temple, fell to ruin. Punishment came down hard on the city. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!”
So the King said again, “The wedding feast is prepared, but the guests are not worthy. Go therefore into the highways and invite whomever you can find to the wedding.” What does this mean? Well, sadly, the Jews rejected this gracious and lavish King. So now the election of the Gentiles has begun in full force. Recall the words of Christ our Lord after His resurrection: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … preach the Gospel to all creatures. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.”
That’s us folks. Our ancestors. The Germanic peoples, Anglo Saxons, and Vikings, were worshipping trees and rocks before those first Christian missionaries came. But the Gospel came to them – preached right into their ears, that they would know the true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, being baptized and delivered, and so enjoy the lavish feast of God’s glorious kingdom.
This morning Jesus lays bare the Kingdom of God with this story. He sends out the kindest and gentlest of invitations: “Come, for everything is ready!” Isaiah puts it so nicely this morning: “Come, everyone who thirsts … eat what is good! Delight yourselves in rich food. Listen to me, come to me, that your soul may live!”
So you, dear Christian, are invited. But today’s Gospel gives a stern warning and exhortation as well. Beware of those church signs that say, “Come as you are,” which suggest an attitude that God should accept us just the way we are and that we need not change a thing! Because guess what? It’s the way we are that’s the problem. It’s the way we are for which God threatens to cast us into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
That was the mistake of the man who showed up to the feast this morning with no wedding garment. And that’s nothing new. Goes way back to our first parents, who lost this garment when they transgressed God’s commandment and followed the serpent. There they stood, sinful, naked, and ashamed, and no fig leaf would do.
So Adam and Eve had to be stripped and clothed again with costly garments at the cost of a lamb’s blood. So remember now, howH clothed you with even costlier duds, a wedding garment that came at the cost of the blood of God’s Son, freely given to you in your Baptism.
That’s why when a Christian is baptized there is a custom of putting on a baptismal gown. And the pastor says this: “Receive this white garment to show that you have been clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers all your sin. So shall you stand without fear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the inheritance prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
So sorry, folks. It’s never “come as you are” in God’s Kingdom. Take to heart the warning of the man cast out of the feast. And know that there is a specific dress code in the kingdom of heaven.
So think what it cost God to clothe you with the holiness of His Son. He took on flesh and blood for you. Consider how they treated Him with shame. Stripped Him naked and nailed Him to a tree, and there He was clothed with the guilt and shame and filthy garment of our sins. On Calvary He took our sin so that in Baptism He might give us His righteousness. Pastor Martin Luther called this the happy exchange. We have nothing to give but our sin, and He will take nothing else from us. And what does He give us but His righteousness, and the garments of salvation, which He freely bestows? St. Paul put it this way: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.”
So what do you do with this wedding garment that has been given to you? You wear it! You put it on. You repent of your sins. You believe the Gospel – that what Christ suffered He suffered for you. What He has done was done for you! Atoning for your sins. Destroying your death. Opening your grave. All for you! Yes, in that garment, in that Baptism, you arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. You live a new life!
So therefore, when you pray, when you stand before the King who has invited you to the feast, don’t stagger in demanding He accept you as you are. For in the Kingdom of God there is a strict dress code: You come robed in the righteousness of Christ, or nothing at all. Say, “Dear Father in heaven, I come before You, not on the basis of my own righteousness, which is nothing but filth, but I come before You only on the basis of the righteousness of Your own Son.”
All so that when you come into this church for the last time, your casket will be clothed with a white pall, a white robe, draped over your coffin. A confession that your righteousness is only what you were given in Baptism: Christ Himself.
But until that day, come, come to the table. Eat, drink, and be merry. For the kingdom of God is a feast. And we should act like it. God is to be enjoyed. He is the God of laughter, of full bellies, and second helpings. So come to the table of the Lord. For in His presence, says, David, there is fullness of joy. So come! The feast is ready. And there’s a seat with your name on it. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: “Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior” LSB #627
Author: John Hus, c. 1369-1415
German Version: Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Translator: F. Samuel Janzow, 1913-2001
1 Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior,
Turned away God's wrath forever;
By His bitter grief and woe
He saved us from evil foe.
2 As His pledge of love undying,
He, this precious food supplying,
Gives His body with the bread,
And with the wine the blood He shed.
3 Jesus here Himself is sharing;
Heed then how you are preparing
For if you do not believe,
His judgment then you shall receive.
4 Praise the Father, who from heaven
To His own this food has given,
Who, to mend what we have done,
Gave into death His only Son.
5 Firmly hold with faith unshaken
That this food is to be taken
By the sick who are distressed,
By hearts that long for peace and rest.
6 Agony and bitter labor
Were the cost of God’s high favor;
Do not come if you suppose
You need not Him Who died and rose.
7 Christ says: "Come, all you that labor,
And receive My grace and favor:
Those who feel no pain or ill
Need no physician's help or skill.
8 “For what purpose was My dying
If not for your justifying?
And what use this precious food
If you yourself were pure and good?”
9 If your heart this truth professes
And your mouth your sin confesses,
You will be your Savior's guest,
Be at His banquet truly blest.
10 Let this food your faith so nourish
That its fruit of love may flourish
And your neighbor learn from you
How much God’s wondrous love can do.