What A Feast!
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
12 October 2014 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. Matthew 22:1-14
Feasting. Especially wedding feasts. It’s the way the Bible speaks of giving away salvation! Wedding feasts: one of the ways God illustrates what He does and gives for the salvation of sinners. Isaiah proclaimed such feasting. He promises a feast that saves. The feast of salvation that takes place on a mountain that will “swallow up death forever.” Jesus did too in the parable today. And Jesus’ parable of the divine invitation to the wedding feast that puts death to death is full of unexpected twists and turns. It comes with heavy weight, salvation-ly serious warnings like this one: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Jesus does not joke. He’s kingdom of heaven serious.
So, he preaches a feast and feasting! Do you get it?
I’m not sure that you do. After all, the food police forbid feasting. Kibosh it! Ban it! Try to have a feast whether it’s on Thanksgiving, Christmas or whatever occasion and the food police give stern warnings of all the incredible health risks, issue gluttony tickets and hand out big monetary fines in order to protect the homeland from the unforgiveable sin of “FEASTING”!
In addition, all you know are microwaveable Mac & Cheese meals. Drive thru Big Macs and Whoppers. On the run gas station donuts, hot dogs and gas station sushi. Diet pop. Lite beer. Carb counting. Marie Osmond Nutri-System. L.A. Weight Loss.
Food is demanded in 60 seconds or less. Church has to be 60 minutes or less. Now you can even go online and get “Communion to Go” packages – hermetically sealed for your safety grape juice and wafers. Self-Serve Communion as you hectically run to another ball game, practice, the golf course or the cornfield!
No wonder that you’re clueless, puzzled and deeply offended when you hear Isaiah invite you to a sit-down and get-comfortable, “feast of rich food … a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines” or when Jesus invites you to enjoy the never ending blowout “wedding banquet for his son” that includes platter after platter of the reddest meat with all its fat included.
Well, I better repeat what I said at the beginning. Feasting, especially wedding feasts, is one of the ways the Bible illustrates and proclaims salvation! A way that God illustrates what He does for the salvation of sinners. So, when He invites you to a feast He’s calling to you to salvation! All is ready! All is done – for salvation!
So Jesus speaks of a King (that’s God the Father) who loves to be a gracious host. Who loves to serve sinners with His lavish love. So, He spares no expense to throw the party of salvation spoken of as the wedding feast for His Son Jesus’ wedding day! The finest of marbled meats. Rare and vintage wines. Isaiah speaks of it this way: “a feast of fat things full of marrow, with wine on the lees, well refined.” Or to put it in Nebraska words: premium prime rib with all the trimmings washed down with a great Bordeaux. Better than anything Round the Bend could serve!
Again, the invitation to the wedding feast is the divine summons for Israel, for the world, and FOR YOU to be given the Good Friday – Mount Calvary feast of salvation that Jesus, God’s Son, has achieved! No expense is sparred. And attendance is totally free! Just come and enjoy! Be totally given to! Served by the Lord! A feast that is death’s antidote that “swallows up death forever,” the feast of immortality!
Who could ever refuse Jesus’ feast of salvation? Who would dare to impolitely and audaciously say “no” to eating and drinking in the presence of such a magnificent Giver God King and His Savior of Sinners Son?
Incredibly, the ones invited first do. In fact, the first invited to the feast of red meat and fat of salvation “refused.” Flat out snubbed their nose and said: “No!”
Just as inconceivably, God the King sends out more invitations through more of His servants. “‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’” In other words, “My Son has won your salvation. Come. Enjoy. Be given to by Me!”
But the more graciously God the King invites, the more stubbornly those invited refuse! The invited totally blow off the gracious invitation of salvation.
One is too piously and religiously preoccupied with the cares and concerns of this life to care about the party of eternal salvation that is all prepared and stares them in the face. The fields need cultivating. The crops have to be planted and harvested. Chores have to be done. The other has business to conduct. Money has to be made. Have to work! “Good grief Your Majesty! Do you actually expect us to ask the boss for time off to come to your salvation party? Really, Your Majesty! You ask way too much of us!” Others that were invited weren’t so Nebraska nice. They got absolutely and mobsterly nasty and vicious. They execute the King’s servants in cold blood! Why? Well, the King’s servants annoyed them with the merciful and kindly invitation to the Son’s wedding feast of salvation.
How about you? All is “ready!” Now! Salvation is Good Friday-ly accomplished even for you! You are the ones loitering on the “street corners,” the “good and the bad” that the King has invited to His Son’s wedding banquet.
Would you dare, like Israel of Jesus’ day, to say “no” to God’s full of fatty grams and cholesterol wedding feast of salvation? Would you be so audacious to tell the Lord that you have no interest in coming to the wedding feast? Giving the King and His Son the middle finger! As if you have more important things to do than receive the chock full fatty and cholesterol feasting food of Jesus’ wedding feast! I beg you! Don’t even go there! Don’t use the normal stuff of life to sinisterly reject Jesus and His wedding feast. There are eternal consequences.
So I warn you! Consider God’s call to feast as No Biggie – No Big Deal and therefore blow off or reject the salvation that Jesus won for you and it will end hellaciously! With divine damnation! Listen to what Jesus has to say about that: “The King was enraged. He sent His army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”
In addition, don’t dare to show up at the wedding feast on your own terms. As if you’re in charge and not being given to. Wearing the filthy rags of your righteousness! As if you can earn the feast. Like you deserve it. Insist on that and you’ll get bounced right out into the hellish “darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
It’s the Lord that gives out the wedding garments to His guests. And the proper wedding apparel consists only of the divine blood stained victory robe of His Son’s Good Friday sacrifice for sinners! Robes washed white in the Blood of the Lamb! Sinners covered in the perfection and holiness of His Son! Jesus IS THE WEDDING GARMENT of salvation!
Brothers and sisters, when Jesus died on the cross He was made to be sin FOR YOU and He left no one out of His atoning death. Only Israel’s or your own indifference to that divine death, only your stubborn refusal to be fed or to feast, only your own hard-hearted rejection of God’s gifts leaves you out of the Good Friday wedding banquet of salvation. God’s will is to fill His banquet hall with guests. If the invited guests end up weeping and gnashing their teeth in everlasting hell, it’s entirely against God’s will to save them. God wants to throw a party and He’s invited Israel, the world, and YOU!
The King invites all. But only broken hearted beggars take Him up on the invitation to be clothed and fed by Jesus. “Many are called but few are chosen,” Jesus says. That isn’t an explanation. It’s an observation. In other words, all are invited but few wind up at the table.
Why? Well, it’s not the King’s fault. It’s because sinners refuse to feast – to be fed – to be given to. If you miss out on the party and go hungry, you have only yourself to blame.
So, here we are today. Jesus died for you. He rose for you. He lords His Good Friday reign of forgiveness over you. He clothes and garments you with His salvation. He feeds you with His death swallowing and death defying Body and blood at His Supper. The banquet hall is here! And YOU ARE THE HONORED GUESTS!
In the Name of Jesus.