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Welcome to the Wedding Feast!

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Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost                    Trinity Lutheran Church

15 October 2017                                                      Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Matthew 22:1-14

 

God’s salvific Good Friday It Is Finished Salvation reign on the earth is like a blow-out-no-expense-is-too-much wedding banquet. At Trinity we praise it. We relish in it. It goes like this: “This is the Feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!” The Good Friday Mount Calvary salvation marriage feast is prepared and ready. It’s like eating the finest of marbled meats. It’s like drinking the rarest of vintage wines. As Isaiah preached it: “On this MOUNTAIN the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” And more! With that mountain-fest feast day the LORD will “swallow up death forever … and wipe away tears from all faces and the reproach of His people he will take away from all the earth.”

 

Wow! God the King promises salvation. God the King gives salvation. He does it in, with and under His Good Friday Son Jesus. On the mountain we call Calvary. Isaiah preached it and promised it: “Behold, [that dead man on the cross] … is our God; we have waited for Him that He might save us. This [dead man on the cross] is the LORD; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

 

You’d think coming as fast as you can to the wedding banquet of salvation would be a no-brainer. You’d think that anyone invited would gladly come and enjoy the premium prime rib with all the trimmings of salvation. Who could ever say “no” to such a salvific meal? Who would dare to say “no thanks, not hungry,” to eating and drinking such a salvational meal in the presence of God the King and His Good Friday Son Jesus?

 

Incredibly and sadly, many do. Too many exclude themselves. Some give a flat-out and repeated “No!” Others couldn’t care less and blow off the invitation. Indifferent. Apathetic. Some are too busy. Other cares and concerns trump the wedding banquet of salvation that was prepared for them and was theirs for the taking. One went to work on his farm. Another to his business. The farming and business concerns were too great to take the time to relax and enjoy the King’s feast. “Too busy right now! Maybe another time.” Others were quite hostile in their rejection. They murdered the King’s servants for daring to bother them with the invitation for salvation in Jesus.

 

As it was in Jesus’ day, so it is today and until the end of time. Many still say “no” to God’s feast of salvific fatty fare. Filling the time for divine service with work or play. You have your excuses. And they are legion. If I had $100.00 for all the excuses I’ve been given over the years about why people won’t or don’t come to the blow out feast of salvation held every Sunday for free I could retire richer than Warren Buffet and Bill Gates combined. But all the pious excuses ring hollow compared with the extravagant spread of salvation that God has prepared for you in Jesus His Son.

 

Really! I know for a fact that if I offered you a diet that would not only prevent but also cure cancer, you would do anything to come get it. You would do anything, make any sacrifice, spend any amount of money to have it. Right? Of course you would.  Now, just imagine if I had for the taking a cuisine and a beverage that promised to cure death. Guaranteed. Why … you’d beg me for it. You’d empty your pockets, wallets, purses and bank accounts. You’d do anything for it. I know you would.

 

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is such a food and drink. It is THE medicine of immortality. THE antidote to death. And it is right here for you every Sunday just as Jesus promises: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.” Yes, in the Lord’s Supper Jesus feeds you with His body and His Blood. The body and blood that He offered on the cross as the one and only sacrifice that atones for the sin of the world. Now, today — in the Supper He promises you His full and complete Good Friday forgiveness. For all your sin! He doesn’t exclude any of your sin from His forgiveness. Where there is forgiveness of sins you have live and salvation. Or as Isaiah salvationally preached it: the Lord will “swallow up death forever … and wipe away tears from all faces and the reproach of His people he will take away from all the earth.”

 

If you have ears to hear the excuses about work and business, play or whatever do not hold a candle to the wedding feast of salvation that God has prepared FOR YOU. So, in the parable God the King is relentless. He cheerfully invites all to His banquet hall. The good and the evil. When the respectable folks refuse, He invites the deadbeats and losers. When most high and pious Israel had no use of Jesus and rejected Him, God went to the Gentiles. As Western Europe and the United States reject Jesus and have absolutely no need of Him for salvation God moves elsewhere – Africa, China, South America, etc.

 

Now, I offer you one more tidbit from the parable. Did you notice that the King spies a man who isn’t properly dressed for the wedding shindig? He’s a dude that insists on not being given to. Bullish on having a salvation of his own – illustrated by adamantly wearing what he wants and NOT WHAT THE KING GIVES. He’s a salvational party pooper! So the King calls His royal bouncers. They tie up the dude’s hands and feet and throw him out – not to the pit of despair “Dilly! Dilly!” but “into the outer darkness.” “In that [hellacious] place there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

Don’t forget that the King not only prepared the feast of salvation but He also handed out the salvific Joseph Abboud suits and Nordstrom dresses at the door. Not only does He give the salvational food and drink. He also provides the pure white salvific clothes from Christ’s boutique of righteousness! Lo and behold the suits and the dresses of salvation are Christ Himself that contain all His Good Friday saving of sinners benefits!

 

Listen! It’s just as the Bible says: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ,” (Gal. 3:27). God suits and dresses you – or saves you — with His Son. Wraps you up in His perfection. Covers you with His holiness. His righteousness. In exchange for all your sin! Jesus is your wedding garment. He is the seamless and spotless robe of salvation! You have Jesus and all His gifts of salvation in your baptism! You dare not ever come to the King’s party dressed in anything less than Jesus.

 

Now I’ve really got to wrap up this sermon. Again, typical Kuhlman, I’ve gone on and on and you’re getting weary and are starting to get pew butt. So here goes. A parting shot. At the parable’s end everyone was invited to the party of salvation. However, only a bunch of low-lives and deadbeats from the streets end up in the King’s banquet hall wearing the Joseph Abboud suits and Nordstrom dresses eating prime rib and sipping Peter Michael Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Salvation is won by Jesus’ Good Friday dying and His Easter Morning resurrection and only broken-hearted beggars take Him up on the invitation to be fed and clothed by Him. So Jesus says: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

 

When Jesus says this He’s not giving an explanation. He’s just making an observation. It’s His way of saying: “All are invited but few wind up enjoying the feast of salvation.” As a pastor I’m like the King’s servants that He sends out — constantly inviting people to attend and enjoy the King’s wedding feast for His Son. However, rarely does anyone take me up on the offer. And many people go after the pastor verbally: “How dare he!” “Who does he think he is?” You should hear some of the names that I’ve been called. Can’t repeat them here and keep this sermon G-rated. I think some that I invite and beg would like to do me bodily harm.

 

“Many are called, but few are chosen.” Why? Well, don’t blame the servants like me that the King sends with the invites and by all means don’t go off and blame the King. Don’t get mad at Him. It is not God’s fault when people refuse to be given the feast of salvation. This feast is for all but He forces no one to eat and drink. If you insist on not coming, no matter what the excuses, or attending without the righteousness of Christ and with your self-justifying garb as your wedding garment, it will be hellacious. Sadly, you’ll only have yourself to blame, not God. Seriously.

 

I can’t help myself. I’m a preacher. Here is the finale. Jesus died FOR YOU. He rose from the dead FOR YOU. He reigns FOR YOU. He clothes you in holy baptism. He forgives you in His absolution. He feeds you with His body and blood. The mountain banquet hall is here! You are the King’s honored guests. So let it be said today: “Behold, [that dead man on the cross] … is our God; we have waited for Him that He might save us. This [dead man on the cross] is the LORD; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

 

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God’s Good Use of You!

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Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost                 Trinity Lutheran Church

1 October 2017                                                        Murdock, NE

 

Philippians 2:1-4, 14-18

 

Paul writes from a Roman prison. Who knows how long he’ll live. He knows his time on earth is short. He writes to a persecuted church. So there’s no messing around. No chitchat. His pastoral care is keen. Exquisite. Most caring. It’s goes like this. Jesus is Lord. He rules over all. He has dominion over everything and everyone. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him.

 

Why? Here’s why. To be Servant of all! To give His life as a ransom for many. “The Son of Man did not come to be served BUT TO SERVE AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY” (Mt. 20:28). Jesus “made Himself a nothing.” Jesus took on “the form of a servant.” Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

 

Lord Of All and yet Servant Of All Jesus. Most High Exalted and yet Humiliated Jesus! Divine and yet Man Jesus! His Majesty and yet Self-Sacrificing Jesus! He did that FOR YOU! You are redeemed. Died for! Saved! Forgiven! You are in Christ. He’s given you His divine and saving Name in Baptism. He feeds you with His most holy body and blood in the Sacrament. The Holy Spirit has called you to faith in Jesus through these gospel gifts. FAITH is a living, resolute, total confidence in Jesus. A trust so certain that it is willing to die a thousand deaths for its belief only in Jesus.

 

You FAITH-ERS IN JESUS “are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” FOR SOMETHING. “For good works!” (Eph. 2:10). In view of God’s mercy you “offer your body as a living sacrifice,” (Rom. 12:1). Yes, faith in Jesus naturally produces the life of sacrificial love, not for yourself, BUT FOR OTHERS, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ here at Trinity, Murdock. It’s what you as a disciple of the Lord Jesus want to do. Really you do. Thanks be to God!

 

So, here is God’s good use of you here at Trinity and in the world: “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

 

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”     

 

A crooked and twisted generation is self-seeking, self-serving, curved in on itself and conceited. It’s the Genesis 3 spiritual problem all over again. “You shall be like God. You will call the shots. That’s good! That’s evil.” Look around you! It’s all over the place. Pretend divinities are everywhere. From Washington to Lincoln. From Lincoln to Berkeley. Idolatry of the self! God-within-ism! Better words than the Lord on everything. Just name the topic. Don’t you give in to it! It’s disastrous. It’s hellacious! Not only for you but for everyone around you. Because then you don’t trust Jesus as the Savior and you live only for the self.

 

You who are in Christ by faith are called to live differently. You “hold fast to the word of life.” That’s faith. Faith for salvation only Jesus – Jesus who completely, totally, and unquestioningly held fast to the Word of life — who lived by every word that proceeded from His Father’s mouth without “grumbling or questioning.” And then love. Love for others not yourself. “Look to serve the interests of others” and not yourself. You live not to be served but to serve and to offer your life to help others. This is what Paul calls the “sacrificial offering of your faith.”

 

And you do it because Jesus loved you – to death – death on a cross. Because Jesus gave you His salvific name. Because Jesus gives you His salvational body and blood. Because Jesus forgives you of everything.

 

I want to point out one more delicious teaching from the text. And I hope that it’s helpful and edifying.

 

Remember, St. Paul is languishing in a Roman prison and soon he’ll be made shorter by a head for preaching the gospel – for preaching Jesus to sinners as the only Savior. He didn’t preach and pastor for his own sake. There was nothing in it for him. Ministry is all about service. Self-sacrificial service. For the sake of faith-ing sinners in Jesus who died for them.

 

Paul was relentless, bullish and tenacious about this. Always preaching Christ crucified! Never missing an opportunity! He willing sacrificed everything – his professional reputation as a scholarly and well respected and sought after rabbi, all earthly goods, property, wealth and even his life – to preach Good Friday and Easter Sunday Jesus. Ministry was never about Paul. Ministry was and is always about Jesus. His death. His resurrection. FOR ALL. FOR YOU. And if the governing authorities would chop off his head for doing that – so be it!   So Paul amazingly says, “even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering … I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

 

As Trinity gets ready to celebrate her 125th anniversary next Sunday there will be lots of rejoicing. And rightly so. The Lord Jesus has been so merciful to Trinity. So generous. So lavish. He has gathered you around Himself and His Good Friday gifts of Word and sacraments to be His hangers on. His moochers. His faith-ers. “Holding fast to the word of life.” For more good use of you here in this congregation. Love. Self-effacing and self-giving sacrificial service to one another. Or as the text specifically says: “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

 

Why? Well, it’s the Lord’s good use of you. It’s a no brainer. And who knows? The Lord may have good use of Trinity, your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren here for another 125 years to “shine as lights in the world,” drawing even more sinners to trust only in Jesus!

 

What joy! What a cause for rejoicing!

 

In the Name of Jesus.