June 25, 2017
St. Luke 14:15-24
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The profound and simple meaning of the Gospel in our text today is: “Come; for all things are now ready.” This is the simple meaning of your forgiveness and salvation. Come it’s for you, and it’s ready right now! It’s not dependent upon your preparation or your promises to improve your life. It’s finished. The banquet is prepared and you’ve been invited.
Jesus speaks this parable in response to the man (presumably a Pharisee) who said, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.” On a particular Sabbath, Jesus had been invited to eat at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. They were looking to catch Him in false teaching so that they could condemn Him as a phony. This is the fourth and final thing recorded for us by Luke about what happened at that dinner. What the man said seems harmless and even pious. “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God.” But Jesus knows the underlying issue. They don’t believe that He is the Messiah. They won’t listen to His claims of being God in the flesh, come to save the world from sin. They reject and make excuses at His invitation to be children of God. They won’t believe that all things are ready right now in Him for their salvation. So, He tells them this parable.
The banquet to which the certain man in Jesus’ parable calls the guests is nothing else than the rich, expensive meal, which God has provided through Christ’s sacrifice, by which He spreads before you great possessions and heavenly treasures, divine food, an eternal divine banquet in heaven.
The invitations have all gone out. This banquet is no secret. The invitation has been the same since it was first extended to Adam and Eve after the Fall. The Patriarchs, the Prophets, and the Priests in the Old Testament have all preached this message of salvation and invitation. The Apostles and pastors today in like manner have all extended this inclusive message to all people.
Luke records, “The Lord sent out his servant to invite the guests to this costly supper.” It says “servant” singular, not plural. This is meant to show the unity of the message no matter how many messengers there have been throughout the Old and New Testament. The Apostles were all sent forth with one and the same word the Prophets preached to all the world. With one voice, they preached: “Come; for all things are now ready.”
And they are ready now, because God has come in the flesh to make the singular sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Christ has been crucified, has destroyed sin and death by his death, has risen from the dead, has ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit has been given, and in short, all things pertaining to your salvation are now ready. It was all prepared so that it did not cost you anything; for the Father through Christ bore all its expenses, in order that you without merit or worthiness might enjoy his treasures beginning now.
This parable is about urgency and invitation. All things are ready, except the guests. They have lingering commitments and desires for themselves. The Host is ready. They are not. So they make up excuses. They don’t come right out and say that they don’t want to come. They just don’t want to come now. We can clearly see where this foolish behavior is going. Those who were originally invited reject the call, so the Master of the feast casts the invitation to a wider circle. We are pleased that the host invites the dregs of society, the poor, the lame, the maimed, and the blind, and that still there is room. We are glad that it’s not an exclusive party only for the rich and powerful, for that means there is room for us.
But for how long? This is a parable about urgency, about the desperate, current need we have now. We scoff at the men in the parable who thought themselves too busy to attend. But what of us? Are we ready for the banquet doors to be shut? Are we eager and expectant? Do we conduct ourselves with a level of urgency appropriate to our true need? Not quite.
We all have plans and dreams for ourselves in this world. People think or say that they are not quite ready for the return of Christ, because they have other things that they want to accomplish first. They want to enjoy retirement. They want to become financially stable so that they can enjoy the “finer” things in life. They want more time for leisurely past-times. Students want to complete school. Young men and women want to find a husband or wife. They want to find a “dream” job. They want to live on their own. Those are all fine things to wish for, but just like the excuses in Jesus’ parable, our sinful flesh makes them distractions from the one thing needful, from the rich man’s feast, from the Gospel of Christ. Satan uses the proper and decent things in our lives to take our focus off of the eternal banquet. Everything in our lives can become an idol. Family, friends, work, hobbies–they are all great things to have and gifts from God, but they can’t take God’s place.
Repent! No believer will be disappointed in the Day of Glory. No believer will look back longingly on this vale of tears or desire anything in it. What far better joy to have your Christian spouse, your Christian children, your Christian parents, your Christian friends let out of this pain early and to be joined to them in a perfect communion in heaven. What joy it will truly be in the presence of your heavenly Father, before the throne of your Redeemer and Lord.
And, yet, the sad fact is that some don’t give [eternal life] much focus. Some don’t think about heaven a fraction of how much they think about their next vacation or day off. We don’t consider being raised from the dead, we dream of worldly pleasures. We even overlook what we have now in this world from God’s hand. We are constantly yearning for something else, something better.
Repent. The feast is ready now, today, at this Divine Service. There is a present reality of the feast. You don’t just have to wait until heaven. We come to the Divine Service to hear the Word of God and to receive the Sacrament as a foretaste of the feast to come. Discipline your wandering thoughts from straying from the Words, hymns, and actions of the Divine Service.
Today is an appetizer for what awaits in heaven on the Last Day. Today, you are eating bread in the Kingdom of God. Today you are hearing the living Word of your merciful God. Today you are living in your Baptismal grace and being joined to your heavenly Father. Today you eat and drink Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. You are in the presence of God, right now! The Divine Service is today’s reality of the future glory that awaits you.
All Christians will dine with God in eternity, but for those with eyes to see, for you – you are already God’s adopted children, forgiven by Grace. And already now, here, He gathers you around Himself, feeds you with food that money cannot buy, with Bread that will not waste, with crucified Flesh and spilt Blood that is not dead, which satisfies righteousness.
Everything is ready. It is all finished. All your debts are paid, all your sins are removed, all shame is forgotten in the death He died once for all, and in the resurrection, He rose to open heaven’s door to you. There is nothing left to do but to receive. Come, beloved. The feast is now ready. Be filled by Him.
In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.