Trinity Two Sermon 2004
The value of this banquet is greater than the value
of anything else that occupies our time and attention in this world.
Those who despise the invitation by placing business and family
matters above the banquet show what they value in life.
They think that making a living and managing a home are more
important than being fed by God. That
is a fatal mistake.
God invites us to church for a banquet.
The kingdom of God is the church.
We call the church on earth the kingdom of grace and we call the
church in heaven the kingdom of glory, but there are not two churches.
There is only one church. The
church is made up of those who eat the supper prepared by the Lord
The value of this supper is described in today’s
Old Testament Lesson. “And
in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of
choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of
marrow, of well‑refined wines on the lees.”
Jesus does not offer us leftovers.
He doesn’t give us a few dollars and send us to some cheap
restaurant where you don’t know where the food came from or even what
it is. No, He invites us
into His Father’s home and He feeds us with the best choices of meat
and the very finest of wines. The
meal is not prepared haphazardly and no expenses are spared.
The Old Testament Lesson continues:
Accepting the invitation to the supper is accepting
the invitation to go to church to receive what Christ has given the
church to give. It is to
His church that Jesus has bound Himself as bridegroom to bride and as
head to body. It is to His
church that He promised, “Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the
age.” It is to His church
that he has entrusted the giving out of the bread of life.
The banquet is here.
Jesus alone can give life.
He is the bread of life. Those
who come to Him and believe in Him are not left hungry and thirsty
because He satisfies their deepest need.
What is your deepest need?
When the job and the family keep you from coming to church on a
Sunday morning, what remains your deepest and most pressing need?
I’m not asking you what you want.
I’m asking you what you need.
Do you think that when the time comes for you to leave this world
you will regret that you spent too much time in God’s house listening
to the gospel? Will you
wish you hadn’t gone to the Lord’s Supper so often?
Will you regret the fact that you heard the absolution too many
What is valuable?
I’m not asking you what you want.
I’m asking you what you need.
Consider the guests invited to this banquet. I don’t think we will be able to appreciate the value of
this supper until we take a close look at who’s invited. When the despisers of the supper gave excuses that revealed
their values, the master of the house said to his servant, “Go out
quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the
poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.”
These are the kinds of people who are invited to the supper.
So are you poor?
Are you maimed? Are
you lame? Are you blind? Or are you rich, with everything you need?
You’ve got the job, the family, the home, the status, and the
comfort you want. Are you
spiritually whole? Can you
can stand before God and look Him in the eye and tell Him that you have
loved as He tells you to love and so you have lived as He requires you
to live? Or must you admit
in sorrow that you have failed God, your brothers and sisters, and the
promises you made to Him to be faithful to His truth and to His word?
The invitation goes out to people whose jobs and
families cannot fulfill their deepest needs.
It is for those who have failed.
They’ve lost the job because of their own fault.
They’ve angered others because of their own sinful pride.
They’ve make and broken promises.
They’ve started out with great intentions only to live in
service to their own appetites and egos.
Instead of loving their brothers and sisters they have loved
themselves most of all. And
they know it. And they are
hungry. Their hunger is not
primarily for success in business and home.
It is a hunger for righteousness.
It is a hunger for the forgiveness of sins.
It is a hunger for the words of Jesus that the church has to
give. These words from
Jesus derive their authority from His crucifixion and resurrection. These words pronounce, bestow, and thereby guarantee the
forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.
If you are poor and maimed and lame and blind this
is the place for you. This
is where the Lord Jesus invites you to come.
For here is it that He gives you the food for your soul that will
make you wealthy, give you true health and vigor, and open your eyes to
see the truth by which you will be forever blessed.
You belong here in Christ’s church.
Only those who enter into the kingdom of grace here on earth will
find their way to the kingdom of glory in heaven.
A better job and more time with the family are not
going to take away your sins. More
success in business and a bigger paycheck are not going to provide you
with the assurance that God in heaven loves you and is smiling on you
and celebrating true life with you.
You need the supper.
The supper is for those who are washed in Holy
Baptism. They soil
themselves every day by their sins and they need to return to be
absolved. The forgiveness
of sins that the minister pronounces is the forgiveness of sins God
intends for all His children. It
is not the pious wish of a pastor or the uncertain hope of the penitent.
Jesus Christ bought this
forgiveness. He loved when
we hated. He obeyed when we
refused to obey. When we
were running after the concerns of this life with no concern for eternal
life it was Jesus who with single-minded devotion gave His life to the
task of taking away our sins and making us into saints.
The only way He could do that was by taking our sins upon Himself
and suffering the full punishment that they deserved.
This is the same Jesus who absolves us, proclaims us to be
righteous, and feeds us with His body and His blood in the Sacrament of
We come to church to find Jesus who satisfies our
true spiritual needs. He
feeds us so that our hunger is taken away.
He gives us to drink so that we are not thirsty.
And He is the only one who can satisfy us.
The invitation to the supper comes from Jesus and
from Jesus alone. No one
who is not invited by Jesus can come in.
Those who come in embrace in faith the gospel and the sacraments
of Christ. Only those who
receive what Christ gives in His gospel and sacraments receive Christ
and the eternal life He alone can give.
This is why, when we are confirmed, we promise that we will be
faithful in the use of the means of grace.
This isn’t a promise to do God a favor.
This is a promise to receive God’s favor.
God promises us eternal life in Christ.
Christ promises to be present as our Savior to save us wherever
His gospel is purely preached and His sacraments are rightly
administered. This is why
we insist that our pastors preach God’s word purely and we won’t
have any fellowship with pastors who don’t. This is why we promise to receive the purely preached gospel
and the rightly administered sacraments.
This isn’t devotion to a church ritual that by going through
liturgical motions we satisfy some kind of a religious rule. This is coming to the supper to be fed. This is receiving the choicest and richest and most delicious
food from God Himself and finding in that food true satisfaction.
It is the peace of sins forgiven, the joy of having God’s pure
love, and the confidence that God will surely provide us with everything
we need in our jobs, our businesses, our homes, and every other facet of
Christians go to church.
That’s where the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind
find true riches, health, sight, and life.
It is our true home in this world and the gate to heaven.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus