“Welcome to the Feast”
April 2, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bossier City, LA
INI + AMEN.
(1. Oops!: Nothing worse than excuses)
There’s nothing worse than excuses. We hear excuses all the time. It often seems that most, if not all, politicians are the kings and queens of excuses. But we also get it in our every-day lives. We get excuses from people at work. We get it from our friends, even our family members too! We ask them to do something, and, when it doesn’t get done, we get all sorts of excuses. We get the grown up equivalents of “the dog ate my homework.” Or maybe just: “I didn’t have time.” “I forgot.”
It’s all very frustrating, We hear excuses not only for things we ask people to do, but we hear them when we want to do something for others. We want to have a get-together, go on a special vacation, make a special dinner, and we hear all sorts of excuses about why they can’t come, why it’s a bad idea, and how they want something else for dinner. It’s more than frustrating. Excuses seem to be the name of the game in our lives and in our parable this evening: “One and all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I bought a field, and I must go to see it. I ask you, have me excused.’ Another said to him, ‘I bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to inspect them. I ask you, have me excused.’ Another said, ‘I married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.’”
(2. Ugh!: We make excuses.)
But it’s not just other people who make excuses, is it? You make all sorts of excuses. I do too! Excuses for why we couldn’t do something we were asked to do over and over and over again. “I forgot.” “I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do.” We’ve got our excuses when it comes to people wanting to do something with us: “Sorry, I don’t have time.” All sorts of excuses. Maybe we’ll stretch the truth a bit too far in our excuse: “I’m not feeling to well,” when you’ve only got a slight headache, or whatever else. Maybe we’ll just lie: “I’ve got other plans,” when those plans include sitting around doing nothing. Each of us is full of excuses. Excuses when people want to do something for us: “I don’t like that…so could you do something else for me?”
If all these excuses weren’t bad enough—and they are because excuses aren’t for loving our neighbors but loving ourselves—if these weren’t bad enough, we’ve got our excuses for God too. That’s where this Parable of the Great Feast gets us. “A certain Man made a great feast, and He called many.” He’s calling one and all to come to His feast. His invitation comes from His own generosity. It’s not a potluck. It’s not a BYOB party. “He sent His servant at the hour of the feast to say to those who’d been called, ‘Come, because things are already prepared.” He provides everything His guests could possibly want. Great food. Awesome music. The best drinks. Everything at 5 star quality. Yet, as we just heard, they all made excuses.
This man is God Himself. Our heavenly Father invites us to taste and feast upon the riches of His bounty in Christ Jesus. He invites us to Himself, and we, one and all, make our excuses. When it comes to the Lord’s gifts that He calls us to enjoy, we need to consider these questions. Have I listened to and read God’s Word faithfully? Have I kept every day holy with the reading and meditation upon God’s Word? Does my attendance on Sunday suffer because of my other weekend activities? Have I done things that have weakened or hurt my faith in God?
We can come up with all sorts of excuses. How are sports, or hunting, or vacation more important than the Lord’s banquet, than eternal Life? Than His Word and gifts? “Well, it’s just a choice that I’ve made.” “I bought a field.” “I bought some oxen.” “I got married.” “It’s a new deer lease.” “It’s just one weekend getaway.” “My schedule’s too busy to come, to pray.” What excuses have you made? You might even be thinking them now. But what’s the Lord’s final judgement on the last day to any and all excuses: “The master of the house was filled with rage…I say to you that none of those who were called shall taste of My Feast.”
(3. Aha!: The Lord still invites you.)
In this parable Jesus tells us about the heavenly Father who calls us poor beggars to eat and drink with Him at His table in the kingdom of heaven. He chastises, denounces, and condemns the rude and appalling hard-heartedness of those who spurn His graciousness and the wonderful meal that would’ve satisfied their hunger forever. But their attachment is to earthly things, and in the process they forfeit the kingdom of heaven.
In spite of all our excuses, the Lord still invites us. He compels us to come. His house must be filled. Only out of His grace and mercy does He call us. He must continue calling. He says to His slave, “Go to the highways and byways and compel them to come in so that My House is full.” The Lord says, “Keep calling. Keep inviting. Drag them all in. I want a big party to share all My goodness with. Send the invitation!”
(4. Whee!: We’re invited to feast on Jesus.)
The heavenly Father is that rich man and host. He’s prepared His own Son as the feast and banquet. Jesus is the sacrifice prepared. God permitted His dear Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of the virgin, and to suffer, be slaughtered, cut to pieces and readied, just like we prepare a meal. As one butchers a chicken, puts it on a spit, and roasts it, so the heavenly Father allowed His Son to be butchered, nailed to the cross, and offered up in fervent love, as the true Passover Lamb sacrificed for the sins of the world.
But a chicken doesn’t stay on the spit permanently. It’s removed and put on the table for all to enjoy and be satisfied. So also Jesus. He suffered the pain of the cross, but was removed from the spit of the cross, laid in the tomb, risen from the dead, so the whole world might enjoy Him, for He is the Bread of Life. We are invited to feast on Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Jesus Christ, our heavenly food, was prepared and endured the intense fire of the cross. Now He is served up and offered to the whole world. Wherever and whenever Christians gather, there you will find the table. The Gospel is the dish. The servers are the pastors. Christ is the food. Each of us receives as much as anyone else. Christ satisfies and fills all who are hungry and thirsty.
The Gospel that says Christ suffered, was crucified, died for our sins, and raised for our justification—that Gospel is delivered. We’re all invited to come, receive, and believe. The Word is the dish. The pastor is the waiter. Christ is the food. Eating and being nourished is receiving with faith. When this all comes together, our soul begins to say, “Here is Christ proclaimed. I see and hear what the food is, the ‘roasted’ Christ.” So also tonight we remember especially what our Lord gave to us on the night He was betrayed. We enjoy it every Lord’s Day: His body and blood given and shed for you is placed into our mouths for us to eat and drink. The Gospel, Jesus Himself is the meal for us tonight, and every time His Supper is offered.
(5. Yeah!:) THE LORD INVITES YOU TO HIS FEAST—TODAY AND FOREVER.
The Lord’s invitation to feast isn’t just for our lifetime. Surely He invites us to feast on His Son in His Word, and especially in His body and blood. But all that’s preparing us for a feast of eternal proportions. We hear it prayed often: “Gather us together we pray from the ends of the earth to celebrate with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.” The Lord calls us to His eternal party. It’s all prepared. Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection is the source. You’re predestined in Him for it. You’re on the Guest List. Being Baptized, you’re name’s written in the Book of Life. You’ve partaken of the feast of His body and blood in this life, you’re prepared for the life to come. No excuses. Just an eternal party where we will glory in the presence of the Lamb who looks as if He’s been slain. He was for you. Welcome to the feast!
INI + AMEN.