Luke 14:15-24 (6/5/16)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Luke 14:16: Then [Jesus] said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many…”
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our Lord… In our text Jesus is hanging around Pharisees and sinners, and He is teaching them about the kingdom of God. “One of those who sat at table with [Jesus]” responded to His teaching by saying, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Then Jesus told the story about a man who had a great supper. When the Supper was ready he sent out his servant to call to the supper all those who were invited. But every single one of them came up with excuses not to come: one man had just bought land and had to go look at it; another had just bought oxen and had to go test them; still another had just gotten married and was preoccupied.
The man who was giving the great supper became angry and sent his servant into the city to find others who would come to the banquet. When he realized there was still more room, he sent his servant back out to beat the bushes, so to speak, and invite even those who were not residents of the city to his great supper.
Jesus was speaking about the Pharisees who rejected Him. They, along with the rest of the religious society, had in their hands all the prophecies and promises of the coming Messiah. They of all people should have been waiting with great anticipation for the coming of Christ. And yet, when He finally comes and calls them to Himself, they reject Him.
So then, Jesus called others into His kingdom: the poor and lame, the sick and diseased, all those who were known in society as great sinners. He called to His banquet the rejects of society, those who could not defend themselves, those who needed an advocate. And if that were not enough, He also called into His kingdom the Gentiles.
But as we look at this text, there is more for us to see. The main activity for us is to eat bread in the kingdom of God, for Jesus said “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” This bread in the kingdom is nothing less that the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ Himself. There is Salvation in this Meal, for it is nothing less than communing in Christ and being one in Him.
This meal is the ongoing heavenly banquet in which the saints of heaven gather together and dine with and upon Christ. And as we gather together on Sunday and come to the Lord’s Supper as Christ brings it into our midst, this Supper is nothing less than the participation in that same heavenly banquet. For as we eat and drink the Lord’s Body and Blood, we are eating and drinking not only Jesus but also in the very presence of the angels, archangels, and all the hosts of heaven.
This is Christ’s meal, not ours. His Word does what it says. “Take and eat,” our Lord tells us; “this is My Body.” “Take and drink,” He says; “this is My Blood.” How are we to understand our Lord’s words other than to believe what He tells us? And so as we kneel and eat, it is not only bread that crosses our lips and enters our mouths, but the very Body of Christ. And as we drink, it is not only wine that touches our tongues and quenches our thirst, but it is the very Blood that was shed on Calvary’s cross for our salvation. To participate in this meal is to participate in the very life of Christ. And apart from Christ, there is no life. In His desire for us to be saved, Christ calls out to you and to me and invites us to dine with Him, to dine on Him, and to come to the Feast.
But we have the same problems the Pharisees had. Like those in the story, we too struggle with our possessions and relationships. We too have purchased property and livestock, things and possessions of this world. We too have invested much of ourselves in developing relationships with each other, and those relationships often result in marriage. These are important things in our life, they are gifts from God. And so, it is not right and proper to neglect the gifts which God bestows upon us. It is not good for us to neglect the land and livestock, and all the other areas of life. Neither is it good for us to neglect our spouses and other relationships.
But even though these gifts are from God, they must never become an obstacle for us to dine with Christ; they must never come between us and Christ. And therein lies our problem. How dare we put these things above the importance of dining with Christ. How dare we allow these things to become our “new god.” Consider how often we desire to do something else on Sunday morning rather than come into God’s House and dine upon Christ. The devil surely knows your weaknesses. And so, oftentimes the desire to go hunting or fishing, or to play soccer or basketball or baseball, or go on a picnic and barbecue with friends or any number of other things – overwhelms the desire to come into God’s House and dine on Christ.
It is so easy for the devil to move us to do anything other than come into God house on His day. This is a struggle we all face. And yet, when we come into God’s House and dine on Christ, Christ gets all the credit for our being here! For we can neither come into this House, nor dine upon Christ without His specific invitation. On the other hand, when we choose to stay away, Christ is not the blame – we share the full burden of that decision on our own. And for those who turn their backs on Christ and His Meal, He says to them, “none of those men who were invited shall taste My Supper.”
Dear friends, you have been called by Christ to come to the Feast. Make no mistake about it – you are here by His specific invitation. In the Waters of Holy Baptism He made you an heir to the kingdom of heaven. As an heir to the kingdom, He has provided for you a seat at the table. The Feast which Christ lays out, He lays out for you. For you have been given new life in Baptism, and now He desires that you eat and drink His Meal in order to nourish that life which He has born in you.
Throughout your life, He has sent pastors to you – preachers of His Holy Word through which He continually calls you to come to the Feast. For as the Word of Christ is preached, it draws your heart and mind to focus only upon Him, the true Source of your Salvation. And in His Supper you get to see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and taste with your mouth the goodness of Christ that is yours. Yes, it is hidden under bread and wine, but the eyes of faith reveal to you Christ’s true presence in His Body and Blood.
And so Jesus says, “Come to the feast.” Come and see the Christ who gives Himself to you and for you. Come to the feast; taste and see that the Lord is good. Come to the feast and meet Him who comes to you for your Salvation. Resist the temptations of this world which would cause you to reject this gracious invitation, and come see Christ, for “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Blessed are you when you dine upon Christ, your Savior!
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.