The master of the house said, “Go out quickly and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame…” “Compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.”
᛭ INI ᛭
The Father wants all at His Supper, His eternal Supper. The one where He “will swallow up death forever,” (Is 25) “the marriage feast of His Son, the Lamb, in His kingdom that has no end.” “He wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the Truth” (1 Tim 2), to have faith in His Son.
The Son wants all people at His Supper, too. Not just the eternal party. Not just the eternal marriage feast, where He will celebrate with His bride, the Church forever and ever. The Lord Jesus wants all people to come to the Supper of His body and blood. He instituted it for all, instituted it for you. Of all the things He could’ve done for His Last Will and Testament—He established this: His body and blood for you for the forgiveness of your sins.
(Now, I’ve got to say that the historic and helpful practice of Closed Communion is of a different matter. The desire of Jesus to have all at the Supper does not disagree with the reality that, as Paul says, “There must be factions among you to prove who’s genuine.” (1 Cor 11) Nevertheless, we don’t seek division. We recognize that teachings matter, and we seek to overcome them so that we could commune with all. How wonderful it would be to extend, truly extend, the right hand of fellowship at the Altar! Communion at the Lord’s Table would then be a sign a true unity among believers, rather than a false whitewashing, as happens among so many Christians.)
Anyway, Jesus, like His Father, wants all to be saved. All people everywhere. All people who’ve ever lived. All people who ever shall live. He wants them all saved. Saved from their sins, their sinful desires. Their thoughts, words, and actions that make them ashamed, or should be ashamed. Jesus has much to say about our sins—yours and mine—in His Law. Shall we listen to His diagnosis? Or shall Proverbs 9:8 be fulfilled in us? “Do not rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you.”
“All things are prepared.” The Lord does that. Only He does. Only He can. It’s His Supper. The host hosts. The guests guest. The host prepares, invites,and puts on the dinner party. The guests are invited, they attend, and they enjoy the party. When it comes to the party, one side is active, and the other is passive. For one side there is all the work, and for the other it is all gift, free gift, nothing to “do” but enjoy.
The Father sends out His Son, His Servant. The Son is the Servant in the Parable. The Father is the Master of the House, the Head of Household. The Son is Servant. At Jesus’ Baptism, the Father declares, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” This fulfills Isaiah 42: “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My Chosen, in whom My soul delights.”
The Son is most dutiful servant. “What You commanded is done.” “It is finished” was the Word given at Calvary. “When I am lifted up I will draw all people to Myself,” Jesus says. At Calvary all your sins—there isn’t a single one left out—were on Him. He became your sin, your uncleanness, your guilt, your shame. “[The Father] made [His Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we would be come the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5)
Jesus is the sent Son, the sent Servant, and He invites all to the Supper. He doesn’t invite the high and mighty, the good, the holy, the ready. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” was the condemnation of the Pharisees. “How dare He!”
But the Lord Jesus invites those His Father sent Him to invite: ”the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame.” ”I did not come to call the righteous but sinners,” Jesus says. For “it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.” ”God wants all to reach repentance,” that is, faith in the forgiveness of sins His Son sin at Calvary.
Some don’t come. They have other priorities. They’d rather work the farm. They’d rather work the cattle. They’ve only got this one time off. They’d rather prioritize family time. “What does it profit a man if He gains the whole world but loses His soul?” “Whoever loves [family] more than Me is not worthy of Me,” Jesus says. “…the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful.”
Those who don’t want the Supper, won’t get the Supper. Those who want other things and other people other relationships first, will prioritize themselves out of the Supper. Not just the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood. No, the eternal Supper which the Father puts on for His Son, the Lamb. The party that never ends. “I tell none of those invited shall taste of My Supper.”
But “those brought in, those compelled to come, the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame,” those who can’t prepare, those who can’t repay, those who can’t do anything except what the Father’s Son does for them, those with the only thing going for them is that the Son says “Come, it’s ready! Eat! Drink! Be merry! Your sins are forgiven! My Body and Blood for you!” Those people, you know, you and me—sinners—we receive the benefits. Because they received in faith. Faith is receiving. No receiving; no faith. No faith; no receiving.
The Supper is for the sorts of people who can’t earn it. It’s for those terminally sick with sins. It’s for those who are poor in spirit. It’s for those who are blind. It’s for those who are crippled and lame, who can’t do anything to help themselves, for all the attempts you’ve made, the promises you’ve made, the oaths you’ve made to fix it.
All of it taken away, silenced, you are forgiven. Calvary much. Empty tomb much. Supper of Jesus much. For all your excuses and unfulfilled promises are silenced. Can’t talk when you’re eating and drink. “Eat My body, drink My blood for you for the forgiveness of all your sins.” And faith says, “Amen.”
We’re not talking here about crass sinners, who don’t actually want their sins forgiven and taken away. (LC V) They want to live in their sins, not just blatant sins, but sins like prioritizing other things with the comfort that they’re nice and good people, that they’re better than others, like holding grudges in their hearts and words and actions. “Whoever does not love remains in death.”
But the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood does far more for you than you can ever do yourself. What you can’t pray away, what you can’t make up for, what you worry about, what makes you bitter and anxious and angry and cynical—all of it swallowed up in the blood of Jesus. The real body and blood of Jesus for you, into your mouth. Can you get more forgiven than that!?
With that Supper comes sight! Now you can see that your fellow members are also people for whom Jesus bled and died. Same for anyone else in your life, and the reality is Jesus wants them to receive the Supper with you! (Compel them to come!) What bad blood can remain when the blood of Jesus binds you together?
And this Supper prepares you, just as Jesus prepares you for the Supper. Faith from and through and toward the Words! For “that person is truly worthy and well-prepared who has faith in these Words: ‘given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’” “Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say, the forgiveness of sins.” (SC VI) “We reject the teaching that worthiness comes not only from true faith, but also from a person’s own preparation.” (Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, Article VII, 124)
But the Supper of Jesus body and blood prepares you. Prepares you, teaches you to love God and to love your neighbor. It prepares you for the eternal Supper. “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” Salvation and life from sin. Salvation and life from death. Salvation and life from grave.
“This is the medicine that bestows eternal life that we would not die forever but live forever with Jesus Christ.” It’s what Jesus prescribes for terminal sinners. For “it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.” “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.” (Jn 6)
“Come, for everything’s ready!”